Expert answers for the beginner, befuddled and anyone hitting a brick wall.
. I’m at the point where I need to get some records from
archives in Europe, but I don’t know the language and can’t really afford to
travel there. How would I go about hiring someone to do the work for me? I’m
worried about the expense.
A. First, check whether the records you need are available
on microfilm through the Family History Library. Search the
library catalog with the name of the country and/or town of origin, and explore
the records in your search results. If you find a promising microfilm, you can
order it for $5.50 for viewing through your FamilySearch Center.
see if one of FamilySearch’s foreign letter-writing guides (click a country on this page) can be of help in
composing your request.
a professional researcher who specializes in the geographic area you’re
researching can be a money-saving move because you can avoid many of the
problems you’d experience if you tried to go it alone—language problems, not
knowing which archives to look in, lack of familiarity with record-keeping quirks,
and more. The cost, of course, depends on the scope of the project, where the
research will take place and whom you hire.
You can cut costs by doing research
stateside to narrow as much as possible where your ancestors lived, what
records are available and where the records are located. You’ll want to provide
the researcher with a summary of your research and photocopies of any pertinent
records or resources to check.
you decide to work with a pro, he or she should write up a project proposal
that estimates the costs involved. To help control unexpected costs, you can ask to OK expenditures up to a certain amount and be able to approve additional ones. Make sure you ask for (and check) references and
get a signed service contract.
to look for a professional researcher? You have lots of options. The
Association for Professional Genealogists website has an
online member directory that helps you find researchers by geographic or other
area of specialty. You also can check with ethnic genealogical societies, such
as the Federation of East European Family History Societies;
members may provide professional research services or be able to offer
recommendations. And you’ll find a plethora of professional genealogy firms by
googling “professional genealogist.”
You also can find research help—for big research projects or small, record-retrieval tasks in faraway repositories—through services such as Genlighten