As a professional genealogist, I have to hire other professionals in the field. So the advice I’m giving you is from personal experience. How do I find researchers with whom I can trust?
I find that if a library refers a list of researchers to me, I then do some research of my own. I look at the researcher’s website, credentials if applicable, and areas in which they feel comfortable working. I send e-mails with my initial inquiry and then I judge how the genealogist responds to me.
A professional may come back and decide not to take on your case. That is to be respected if it is outside their area of comfort. However, in your initial letter of inquiry, always mention that if they were unable to take on the case would they recommend someone.
If a professional tells me what realistically can and cannot be done, I am most appreciative. If the researcher shares with me local sources that I was unaware of; then I am practically sold. If they assure me they will not duplicate my research already done, then I’m ready to write the check out.
There are organizations, which will certify genealogists. Among them are the Board for Certification of Genealogists and The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists . As stated above, archives and local genealogy societies typically have lists of researchers, even if they are not allowed to recommend anyone specific. These can all be excellent resources.
It is important to remember, just because a researcher has received credentials through a reputable organization, like the ones mentioned above, this does not guarantee that person has a regular caseload of clients or the experience to do your research. These types of organizations do not provide work, only credentials to those who pass their rigorous tests. The amount of work a professional actually does, hone their skills and provide them with valuable experience.
Sometimes, I find “word of mouth” is the best way to find a trustworthy genealogist. If I need something in England, for example, I ask other professionals who they use working out of a particular record office. That method has worked well for me. I don’t have to worry about the qualifications of that researcher as they have already been tried and tested on another colleague of mine.
If I cannot find a trusted researcher by “word of mouth” then I’m left with the list of researchers furnished by an archive, library or genealogy society. Still not a bad option as I would doubt respectable libraries and archives would want people on their list who are less than professional.
If you would like help with your genealogy please call 385-214-0925.