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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
Beth's Weekly Moultrie Observer Column - Week 24
(This appears here courtesy of The Moultrie Observer)

Many times, those who wish to research their own family history don't want to do it themselves. This might be because they don't have time, are not interested or just think it is too complicated. (It's not, really.)
Whatever the reason, there is professional help out there to do the work for you - or to get you past a genealogical brick wall.
Professional genealogists offer a variety of service. Most of them conduct research on individual families and may specialize in geographic areas or ethnic groups. They may specialize in particular time period or even in particular records. These people have experience analyzing lineages, planning research strategies and evaluating the evidence they find.
Many professional genealogists also lecture and teach and publish. Some even translate foreign language records. A few will develop genealogical software or provide consulting services. Some may even do on-site consulting in libraries or archives for those who prefer doing their own research, but need some advice on the best way to go about it.
There are professional genealogists who offer research on family health histories or legal cases.
Some professionals document historic sites or conduct biographical and local history research for popular and academic writers.
Some of the professional genealogists work independently and others are employed by genealogical business firms, libraries or other organizations.
How do you find a professional genealogist?
Usually, professional genealogists are not licensed by governments or by professional agencies, so private screening programs have come to be. Names of genealogists who have been tested and who are untested, can be obtained from genealogical periodicals and from historical societies in the area of your interest. Many screening organizations and professional associations maintain on-line rosters available on the World Wide Web.
It doesn't matter where professional genealogists live. They have access to research sources and have colleagues elsewhere. Even if the person you first contact does not accept assignments such as you need, they may be able to refer you to others or even to subcontract the work while they maintain overall supervision of your project.
When you write a professional genealogist - or send any genealogical mail - be sure and enclose a SASE (Self-Addressed-Stamped-Envelope). If you are writing to someone in another country, include International Reply Coupons, available at the USPS. You should be sure your coupons will cover airmail reply.
How do you know the professional is qualified?
Contact several professionals who work in the appropriate areas of your genealogical need. Be sure and ask for credentials and about their education. You'll want to know their professional affiliations. Have they been published? What foreign languages do they read and write and speak (if applicable in your own research)? To what records do they have access?
If you have special projects, ask if the genealogist has had experience in a completed family history in book format. Have they conducted oral interviews with distant family members? Can they provide on-site photographs?
If your research involves adoption or special ethnic origins, or uncommon problems, ask what experience the genealogist has in those special areas.
We'll learn about the costs involved and how to define the researcher's work next week.
Remember, we have The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library right here in Moultrie with our own resident expert genealogists - Irene Godwin, Ann Glass, Katherine Bryant and Monique Green. Come see them Monday through Saturday 8:30 til 5:30. The Odom Library is located in the south wing of The Moultrie-Colquitt County Library.

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