Are you stuck on a Southeastern line?
I would love to help you solve your research problem. There are several approaches we might take, to best fit your need and your budget.
1. Analysis & development of a research plan:
The first step to resolving any research problem is to critically evaluate what we have already. Sometimes, a skilled analysis will actually reveal an answer—often because direct evidence of value has been obscured by a document’s archaic or legal language. In other cases, a solution can be pieced together from bits and pieces of indirect evidence scattered across several records already at hand. Many times, too, the records we accumulate have silent clues that are easy to miss if we are not yet an expert on that type of record, that particular region, or that type of problem.
Whatever your situation, my detailed analysis of your evidence will highlight resources that remain to be researched and information of questionable reliability that may have thrown roadblocks into your research path.
I will then develop a detailed research plan that includes time estimates for pursuing each step and, if needed, background information or guidance on more-complicated materials. You, then, have options. You may pursue that research plan yourself or, if you lack access to records or time to explore them, I’d be happy to assist you with the research.
2. Core research
Once you have reviewed the research plan, if you wish to authorize research, you may proceed in one of two ways. You may choose a particular item (or items) from the plan; or you may authorize a specific number of hours that should not be exceeded in that assignment.
Your research will be conducted primarily in original records, the gold standard for accurate and successful results. Background research may be conducted in finding aids or published abstracts. Legal statutes, maps, historical monographs, and other materials may be consulted where necessary to properly interpret records or historical conditions that critically affect your problem.
Collateral kin and associates should be included in the research. When elusive ancestors did not, themselves, create records that explicitly state their identity, parentage, or origin, that information can often be found in records created by their close kin and associates. When working in frontier areas or burned counties, it may be impossible to find the records to prove identity or kinship without studying your ancestor in the context of the cluster of people genealogists refer to as the ancestral FAN Club—Friends, Associates, and Neighbors.
Your report will explicitly identify all sources searched, together with the results of each—both positive and negative. For key documents or maps that affect your ancestry, you will receive photocopies. Relevant records that do not provide direct evidence of identity, origin, or kinships are typically abstracted; if you later wish copies, you may obtain these using the complete citations that I provide.
Whatever the hours you authorize, payment is due in advance. If your objective is reached before your assigned hours are used up, you will be refunded the difference.
3. Extended biographical research
Genealogists who are preparing a family history, as well as academics working on historical figures, frequently need extended research to complete a biography or to separate the identities of same-name people who lived contemporaneously in the same locale. As a trained historian, as well as a Board-certified genealogist, I offer a relatively unique set of skills to assist you with this kind of research—particularly if you are working with a Southern ethnic minority or a frontier region.
If you wish me to assist you
Please provide the following:
A concise statement of your objective.
A summary of your problem and whatever basic details you have on the problem person—dates, places, known relatives and associates, etc.
Image copies (not your only copy) of all material you have found on this problem ancestor—documents, research notes, published assertions, or whatever you have gathered.
The analysis of a client’s materials and the development of a research plan typically requires five to fifteen hours. An advance of ten hours is requested. If the analysis can be completed in less time, the remainder will be applied toward actual research. If your materials take longer to analyze and develop, you will be billed for the additional time, up to two hours. If your materials are so extensive that they cannot be analyzed within this time frame, you will be contacted to discuss the project before any work begins.
Prospects for a solution
No researcher can promise a solution within any specific number of hours. Success always depends upon (A) the nature of the individual and the records he or she created; (B) the researcher’s knowledge of the region, the time frame, and the sources available; and (C) the researcher’s skill at applying advanced research techniques.
Factor A is entirely beyond any researcher’s control.
Factor B is an important one to consider when engaging a researcher. As a research professional, my practice is to accept no assignment unless I feel I can deliver the highest quality service.
Factor C is the one that has enabled me to solve most client problems across the 25 years that I have been Board-certified.
$74 per hour plus expenses (travel, photocopies, etc)
A minimum of twenty hours is required for all projects.
In all cases, work on your project will follow the standards of both the Board for Certification of Genealogists and the Association of Professional Genealogists. A resolution of your problem will meet the five criteria of the Genealogical Proof Standard:
Skilled evaluation and correlation of evidence,
Resolution of any conflicting evidence, and
A written proof summary or proof argument.
Time frame for delivery
Typically, assignments are completed within four weeks.