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Thu Jul 8 12:08:17 MDT 2010


with your initial inquiry as to whether the professional would "review
[y]our gathered research papers that ranged from 1714-1790, read them, and
give . an opinion as to whether there was interest in finding [the]
ancestor."  However, an inquiry of this type sends a different message. What
it conveys is this: "Will you spend your own time glancing over these papers
and telling me if you're willing to take an assignment that deals with this
subject?"  The difference here, of course, is that it would not be
reasonable to ask a professional researcher to invest many hours of his/her
own time doing a thorough and effective analysis of your research problem
and all the documents accumulated up to that point, just to tell you whether
s/he would be interested in accepting your assignment.
 
IMO, if you and your research group have already conducted an extensive
amount of research on this ancestor and you are stumped as to his
origin/parentage/whatever, then the most effective way to break your
stalemate would be this:  
.         Contact a genealogist who is a proven problem-solver with a
specific expertise in your problem area.
.         As your first assignment, ask that genealogist to do three things:
1.     Thoroughly study every record you have on that problem ancestor, his
children, his siblings, and his associates. Don't just send a 'writeup'
summarizing what you feel are the important points. Your expert will need to
analyze your photocopied records or your raw research notes to glean clues
and insight that you and your cousins may have missed. (No offense is meant
here. Every person who reads a document does so from a different
perspective. Someone with expertise in a specific area will see importance
in a simple word, nuance, or situation that might seem irrelevant to you or
I.)
2.     Prepare for you an analysis of your problem---including frank
observations about the depth of prior research and the strength of prior
conclusions, as well as analytical and interpretative comments about
individual documents.
3.     Prepare a research plan, itemizing materials that need to be examined
and approaches that need to be used-things that you and your cousins, as the
clients, might (or might not) be able to do for yourselves.
.         Then re-evaluate your needs after receiving this professional
analysis of your problem. Some things you may be able to do for yourself.
Some may be things that the local expert should do for you. Some may be
things in another locale that your localized expert knew about that you
weren't aware of, things that might require help from an entirely different
person.
The one thing I would never, ever do---if this were my own family
problem-would be to tell anyone that I have all the documents I want from a
particular period. I've learned the hard way, eons ago, that solving a
problem is not a matter of my wants. To solve problems I have to go where
the evidence leads me. Solutions happen when I am diligent about finding and
using all possible records; when I understand the family and society
involved so that I'm actually doing research, as opposed to simply looking
up a name; and when I'm willing to explore materials created by all known
kin and associates, including other locales and time frames that I don't
consider initially because, of course, our initial efforts are more-tightly
focused. 
Best wishes,
Elizabeth
 
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
Tennessee
 

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<body lang=3DEN-US link=3Dblue vlink=3Dpurple =
style=3D'tab-interval:.5in'>

<div class=3DWordSection1>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";
color:blue'>Mag wrote:<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:12.0pt'><b><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:"Tahoma","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New =
Roman";
color:black'>&gt;</span></b><span style=3D'color:black'>I have received =
several
off-list replies to my inquiry that tell me I omitted two key points =
when
submitting my query to this list:<br>
&lt;snip&gt;<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><span style=3D'color:black'>&gt;2. our</span> =
initial letter
of inquiry to the present genealogist was actually a question: would =
that
person review our gathered research papers that ranged from 1714-1790, =
read
them and give us an opinion as to whether there was interest in finding =
our
ancestor. We fully requested and expected review of our research efforts =
from
stated time periods; however, we wanted no research whatsoever of any =
kind
after the year 1815. We had all we wanted from that time period. <br
style=3D'mso-special-character:line-break'>
<![if !supportLineBreakNewLine]><br =
style=3D'mso-special-character:line-break'>
<![endif]><span style=3D'color:blue'><o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:12.0pt'><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";color:blue'>Mag,<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:12.0pt'><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";color:blue'>It is certainly a =
legitimate
request to ask someone to access a body of records, look up a certain =
name within
a specific time frame, and send photocopies of any documents the look-up =
may turn
up. A &#8216;quick &#8216;n dirty&#8217; look-up for an ancestor is =
often the
first step. But it is only a first step&#8212;especially when we are =
working on
a &#8216;problem ancestor.&#8217;<span style=3D'mso-spacerun:yes'>&nbsp; =
</span><o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:12.0pt'><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";color:blue'>If, on the other hand, you =
tell a
professional researcher that you have done a considerable amount of =
research,
that you haven&#8217;t been able to find an ancestor before a certain =
date, and
you want help in finding that ancestor, then you are asking for <i
style=3D'mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>research, </i>not a look-up, and =
the situation
is radically different.<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:12.0pt'><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";color:blue'>Others have pointed out =
that
problems are often solved by (a) researching records created long after =
the &#8216;logical&#8217;
time frame; and (b) researching not only the elusive ancestor&#8217;s =
children
but also collateral kin and associates. They have pointed out the need =
to <i
style=3D'mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>understand</i> the family to which =
your
problem ancestor belonged.<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:12.0pt'><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";color:blue'>From your No. 2 above, it =
appears
that you attempted to address these issues with your initial inquiry as =
to
whether the professional would &#8220;review [y]our gathered research =
papers
that ranged from 1714-1790, read them, and give &#8230; an opinion as to
whether there was interest in finding [the] ancestor.&#8221;<span
style=3D'mso-spacerun:yes'>&nbsp; </span>However, an inquiry of this =
type sends a
different message. What it conveys is this: &#8220;Will you spend your =
own time
<i style=3D'mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>glancing over</i> these papers =
and
telling me if you&#8217;re willing to take an assignment that deals with =
this
subject?&#8221;<span style=3D'mso-spacerun:yes'>&nbsp; </span>The =
difference
here, of course, is that it would not be reasonable to ask a =
professional researcher
to invest many hours of his/her own time doing a thorough and effective =
analysis
of your research problem and all the documents accumulated up to that =
point,
just to tell you whether s/he would be interested in accepting your =
assignment.<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:12.0pt'><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";color:blue'><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p>=


<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:12.0pt'><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";color:blue'>IMO, if you and your =
research
group have already conducted an extensive amount of research on this =
ancestor and
you are stumped as to his origin/parentage/whatever, then the most =
effective
way to break your stalemate would be this:<span =
style=3D'mso-spacerun:yes'>&nbsp;
</span><o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoListParagraph =
style=3D'mso-margin-top-alt:0in;margin-right:0in;
margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:.25in;text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 =
level1 lfo2'><![if !supportLists]><span
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-font-family:Symb=
ol;
mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:blue'><span =
style=3D'mso-list:Ignore'>&middot;<span
style=3D'font:7.0pt "Times New =
Roman"'>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;
</span></span></span><![endif]><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";
color:blue'>Contact a genealogist who is a proven problem-solver with a
specific expertise in your problem area.<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoListParagraph =
style=3D'mso-margin-top-alt:0in;margin-right:0in;
margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:.25in;text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 =
level1 lfo2'><![if !supportLists]><span
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-font-family:Symb=
ol;
mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:blue'><span =
style=3D'mso-list:Ignore'>&middot;<span
style=3D'font:7.0pt "Times New =
Roman"'>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;
</span></span></span><![endif]><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";
color:blue'>As your first assignment, ask that genealogist to do three =
things:<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoListParagraph =
style=3D'mso-margin-top-alt:0in;margin-right:0in;
margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:.75in;text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l3 =
level2 lfo3'><![if !supportLists]><span
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";mso-fareast-fo=
nt-family:
Arial;color:blue'><span style=3D'mso-list:Ignore'>1.<span =
style=3D'font:7.0pt "Times New Roman"'>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;
</span></span></span><![endif]><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";
color:blue'>Thoroughly study every record you have on that problem =
ancestor,
his children, his siblings, and his associates. Don&#8217;t just send a =
&#8216;writeup&#8217;
summarizing what you feel are the important points. Your expert will =
need to
analyze your photocopied records or your <i =
style=3D'mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>raw</i>
research notes to glean clues and insight that you and your cousins may =
have
missed. (No offense is meant here. Every person who reads a document =
does so
from a different perspective. Someone with expertise in a specific area =
will
see importance in a simple word, nuance, or situation that might seem
irrelevant to you or I.)<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoListParagraph =
style=3D'mso-margin-top-alt:0in;margin-right:0in;
margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:.75in;text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l3 =
level2 lfo3'><![if !supportLists]><span
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";mso-fareast-fo=
nt-family:
Arial;color:blue'><span style=3D'mso-list:Ignore'>2.<span =
style=3D'font:7.0pt "Times New Roman"'>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;
</span></span></span><![endif]><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";
color:blue'>Prepare for you an analysis of your problem---including =
frank
observations about the depth of prior research and the strength of prior =
conclusions,
as well as analytical and interpretative comments about individual =
documents.<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoListParagraph =
style=3D'mso-margin-top-alt:0in;margin-right:0in;
margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:.75in;text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l3 =
level2 lfo3'><![if !supportLists]><span
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";mso-fareast-fo=
nt-family:
Arial;color:blue'><span style=3D'mso-list:Ignore'>3.<span =
style=3D'font:7.0pt "Times New Roman"'>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;
</span></span></span><![endif]><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";
color:blue'>Prepare a research plan, itemizing materials that need to be
examined and approaches that need to be used&#8212;things that you and =
your
cousins, as the clients, might (or might not) be able to do for =
yourselves.<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoListParagraph =
style=3D'mso-margin-top-alt:0in;margin-right:0in;
margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:.25in;text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l2 =
level1 lfo4'><![if !supportLists]><span
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-font-family:Symb=
ol;
mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol;color:blue'><span =
style=3D'mso-list:Ignore'>&middot;<span
style=3D'font:7.0pt "Times New =
Roman"'>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;
</span></span></span><![endif]><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";
color:blue'>Then re-evaluate your needs after receiving this =
professional analysis
of your problem. Some things you may be able to do for yourself. Some =
may be
things that the local expert should do for you. Some may be things in =
another
locale that your localized expert knew about that you weren&#8217;t =
aware of,
things that might require help from an entirely different =
person.<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:12.0pt'><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";color:blue'>The one thing I would =
never, ever
do---if this were my own family problem&#8212;would be to tell anyone =
that I
have all the documents I want from a particular period. I&#8217;ve =
learned the
hard way, eons ago, that solving a problem is not a matter of <i
style=3D'mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>my wants</i>. To solve problems I =
have to go
where the evidence leads me. Solutions happen when I am diligent about =
finding
and using <i style=3D'mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>all possible =
records</i>;<i
style=3D'mso-bidi-font-style:normal'> </i>when I understand the family =
and
society involved so that I&#8217;m actually doing <i =
style=3D'mso-bidi-font-style:
normal'>research</i>, as opposed to simply looking up a name; and when =
I&#8217;m
willing to explore materials created by all known kin and associates, =
including
other locales and time frames that I don&#8217;t consider initially =
because, of
course, our initial efforts are more-tightly focused. =
<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:12.0pt'><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";color:blue'>Best =
wishes,<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:12.0pt'><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";color:blue'>Elizabeth<o:p></o:p></span><=
/p>

<div =
style=3D'mso-element:para-border-div;border:none;border-bottom:solid =
windowtext 1.0pt;
mso-border-bottom-alt:solid windowtext .75pt;padding:0in 0in 1.0pt 0in'>

<p class=3DMsoNormal =
style=3D'margin-bottom:12.0pt;border:none;mso-border-bottom-alt:
solid windowtext .75pt;padding:0in;mso-padding-alt:0in 0in 1.0pt =
0in'><span
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";color:blue'><o=
:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p>

</div>

<p class=3DMsoNormal style=3D'margin-bottom:12.0pt'><span =
style=3D'font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";color:blue'>Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, =
CGL,
FASG<br>
Tennessee<o:p></o:p></span></p>

<p class=3DMsoNormal><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p>

</div>

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