Hiring a professional genealogist
Hiring a professional genealogist can be an excellent way
to discover your family roots. If you lack the time and
skills for research or if you encounter a very challenging
research problem, you may need the assistance of an experienced
When you compare the fees charged by professional researchers
with those for comparable services, professional genealogists
are not expensive. Have you engaged a plumber lately?
Many people are quick to criticise services they have purchased
from professional genealogists but usually an investigation
reveals that the person they have engaged was not a true
professional. One of the problems the profession faces is
that anyone can hang out their shingle advertising their
services as a professional genealogist without any of the
real skills of the business. To ensure that the service
you engage is truly professional you need to seek out an
accredited professional genealogist. These people have not
only proved to their peers that they are competent professional
genealogists but they also follow best practice principles
in small business. Moreover, they are accountable to their
peers for their performance and so in the very rare case
of a dispute, the customer has an appropriate recourse from
Many professional genealogists are also record agents but
it is possible to concentrate solely on one aspect of the
profession rather than both. Often professional genealogists
start their career as record agents in that they locate
and secure records for customers and as their expertise
and knowledge base increases they become genealogists. A
genealogists adds another dimension to the work in that
such a person undertakes much more than just recovering
records but rather determines the appropriate records to
locate and once located interprets them for the client.
They also undertake the drafting of family trees or charts
and work closely with their clients to provide a full family
history service with regular reports in an understandable
and logical format. They have the skills to not only locate
the data but also evaluate it in the light of other evidence
available. They are very experienced people with a high
level of competence in their field.
Many professional genealogists specialise in certain complex
fields of research and a thoroughly professional genealogist
will often refer clients on to their colleague who has special
skills in a particular field.
Accreditation in our region amounts to membership of AAGRA
(Australasian Association of Genealogists and Record Agents)
that was founded in 1977. Members are proud of their membership
which was not easy to come by and cannot be maintained if
standards are allowed to slip and as a result you will always
know when you are dealing with a member of AAGRA as they
will make it quite evident to you.
As members of AAGRA, they subscribe to a Code of Ethics:
Article 1 The profession of genealogy calls for
scholarly and personal accuracy and integrity: thus, the
genealogist is obliged to be honest in research, adhere
strictly to the highest standards and methods, and be discreet
in relations with clients and the public.
AAGRA widely advertises it membership in family history publications
and also maintains a web site (www.aagra.asn.au)
detailing its professional genealogist members.
Article 2 The genealogist, whether employed in independent
research or acting in a paid, consultative, advisory or
assistant capacity, must not engage in exaggerated, misleading
or false publicity or knowingly publish as fact anything
known to be false or unproven, nor to be a party to such
actions by others.
Article 3 The genealogist must respect the confidential
nature of the relationship with his or her client; shall
not, without the prior consent of the client, divulge any
information concerning the client or the client's affairs,
nor publish the results of research for which clients have
Article 4 In undertaking research, the genealogist must
try at all times to examine the original, rather than printed
sources, and avoid, so far as possible, the misquotation
of documents or the citing as authoritative of any questionable
Article 5 The genealogist in dealing with a client, must
make reports as clear and definite as the facts allow, offer
candid advice concerning the possible and probable results
of lines of research, and avoid unnecessary duplication
of effort and research.
Article 6 The genealogist shall not knowingly injure or
attempt to injure the professional reputation, prospects
or practice of any other bona fide genealogist or record
Article 7 The genealogist must strive to uphold at all times
the integrity and reputation of the profession, and not
to act in a manner detrimental to its best interests.
You owe it to yourself and your research to ensure that the
next time you seek professional genealogical help that you
insist on a member of AAGRA or a similar body.
Graham Jaunay BA DipT MACE AAGRA