[APG Public List] Genealogical vs. Non-Genealogical

Jeanette Daniels jeanettedaniels8667 at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 23 08:42:17 MDT 2009

Kathy and John,

Thank you for the summary and comments.  I believe that genealogists involved in this type of research (searching for living non-related people or heirs of deceased persons - depending upon what is needed for the client) are regulated as Missing Heirs Researchers or Private Investigators according to various state laws.  This use of genealogical research skills involves use of lawyers, private investigators, and genealogists (and possibly other types of professionals) working together for a common goal.  That goal may involve closing an intestate estate or finding lost family members.  Usually it does not involve finding others who are not directly related to the case unless needed as witnesses, etc.

Whenever I personally have been approached to find a lost girlfriend, adoptive parents, etc., I have been very concerned about the real reason for finding these people.  I've been surprised even by helping others to trace families in the 1930s and 1920s censuses - later to discover that there were alternative motives (not good).  I agree with John that there needs to be licensing and state regulations followed when any type of research is done to find those who are still very much alive or to find the heirs of newly deceased individuals.  

Thank you for providing an interesting, pertinent question on the APG list.


From: Kathy Gunter Sullivan <sully1 at carolina.rr.com>
To: apgpubliclist at apgen.org
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 8:12:16 AM
Subject: [APG Public List] Genealogical vs. Non-Genealogical

In case some folks are interested in a summary of responses to the question posed, 19 September 2009.

The question: " If a potential client wants to locate an old buddy or a former girlfriend or neighbor (*kinship not involved*), would you consider *that search to be what a professional genealogist does?* I have my own opinion, but want to hear your consensus."

There were many useful comments focused on background issues that might arise in connection with such a search, but did not weigh in on the question.

Responses to the specific question:
1) Not this one.
2) I wouldn't.
3) I wouldn't consider a "missing persons" case to be what a professional genealogist does.
4) Clearly finding someone without regard to their relationship is not core to what a professional genealogist does.
5) While we may have the skill sets I don't see it as a genealogy issue.
6) Searching for people in general, with no information regarding the relationship (kinship) is not valid genealogically.
7) I really think my role is to search for ancestors.

My own opinion is that while a professional genealogist probably has the skill sets to conduct a search for an individual *unrelated* to the client, I would not consider the service to be genealogical in nature because of the lack of *kinship.*

Thanks to everyone for an enlightening discussion overall.

APG Member
Charlotte, North Carolina

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