What Information Should I Provide to a Professional Genealogist

What Information Should I Provide to a Professional Genealogist?
You decided to hire a professional genealogist to do a bit of research. The important thing for you to remember is that you need to give enough information to the genealogist for them to do adequate research.

If you want the person you hired (and are paying good money to) to succeed, you need to give as much information as possible on the family. It is best to compile the information and present it in a readable fashion. I strongly urge against a sheet of paper that has many family notes photocopied on to it. You are then paying someone to decipher the notes. Your money can be better spent on actual research. Do yourself and the genealogist a favor and put together a Family Group Sheet. This sheet will bring together all the relevant information you have on the family you want researched. Sometimes, it might be helpful to fill these out for two generations to make sure you provide a full picture of the family to the genealogist.

Here is information that you should provide to your professional genealogist:

  1. What is your goal or the question you want answered with the research?
  2. The full name of the ancestor you would like researched.
  3. Date of birth.
  4. Place of birth.
  5. Date of marriage.
  6. Place of marriage.
  7. Spouse’s full name.
  8. Spouse’s information (see #’s 3 and 4)
  9. List of children’s names (also include information from #’s 3-8, if possible)
  10. Any other information you might have found.

It is fine if you do not have all the above information, but you should provide as much as possible. Otherwise, you run the risk of not getting any new information.

I have created a spreadsheet to help you pull the information together. It can be downloaded in the following formats: Excel, Open Document or CSV. Just open the file, insert your information and save. Then, send it to the professional genealogist you have contracted. Or simply use the form to help you keep the information on your ancestors straight.





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One Comment

  1. I ask clients to fill in a special request form, one page of which is a modified family group sheet. As well as the details you mentioned, Terri, I also ask for the subject’s occupations and places of residence, with dates (because they are very important when I’m deciding which Archive record series to search first), and (if applicable) immigration details – or last known event overseas and first known event after arrival.

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