[APG Public List] Problem with ...

Valerie A. Metzler vmah at keyconn.net
Thu Jul 22 16:00:43 MDT 2010

Well said, Elizabeth!
Valerie A. Metzler, M. A., C. A.
Valerie Metzler Archivist/Historian
114 Ruskin Drive
Altoona, Pennsylvania 16602
814 932 1740
fax 940 0493
vmah at keyconn.net

ect, then it may be beneficial if
>> she
>>   pays you for a research plan she can act on. She may qu[[[[p3-e-ewwww you had 
>> done
>>> yourself and you didn't mention this resource."
>> Message: 6
>> Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2010 13:51:55 -0400
>> From: Christine Crawford-Oppenheimer <christine3cats at gmail.
> ------------------------------
> Message: 4
> Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2010 16:19:59 -0500
> From: <eshown at comcast.net>
> Subject: Re: [APG Public List] Problem with professional genealogist;
> 	formerly, Repeating client's work
> To: <apgpubliclist at apgen.org>
> Message-ID: <037a01cb29e3$a620bef0$f2623cd0$@net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
> Mag wrote:
>> 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:
> <snip>
>> 2. our 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. 
> Mag,
> 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 'quick 'n dirty'
> look-up for an ancestor is often the first step. But it is only a first
> step-especially when we are working on a 'problem ancestor.'  
> If, on the other hand, you tell a professional researcher that you have done
> a considerable amount of research, that you haven't been able to find an
> ancestor before a certain date, and you want help in finding that ancestor,
> then you are asking for research, not a look-up, and the situation is
> radically different.
> Others have pointed out that problems are often solved by (a) researching
> records created long after the 'logical' time frame; and (b) researching not
> only the elusive ancestor's children but also collateral kin and associates.
> They have pointed out the need to understand the family to which your
> problem ancestor belonged.
>> From your No. 2 above, it appears that you attempted to address these issues
> 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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