When you can benefit from a professional genealogy consultation
One of the best things you can do for your family history research is schedule a consultation with a professional genealogist.
Talking to a professional for even as little as 30 minutes can energize your research and help you make exciting new discoveries.
The best thing about consultations is that they can help you no matter where you are in your genealogical journey, or whether you consider yourself a beginner, intermediate, or advanced researcher.
Read on to learn exactly what a consultation entails, and review some common scenarios in which researchers may benefit from professional guidance.
If you're interested in scheduling a consultation with the NYG&B Genealogist, visit our Research Services page to book a consultation or fill out a contact form so we can reach out with more information.
What is a consultation?
A consultation is an opportunity to discuss your research with a professional - what you already know, and what you want to know - and hear their advice about the next steps.
It's important to note that a consultation does not involve having our professional conduct any research for you - that would be an hourly research project, which the NYG&B can do as well.
When you purchase a consultation with a professional genealogist, you have the attention and expertise of a researcher who is well-versed in hunting down (and finding!) ancestors.
You decide what you want to achieve, and a professional genealogist can help you make a plan to get there.
Researchers benefit the most by doing a little preparation for a consultation to ensure you get the most out of their time.
Read our blog, How to get the most out of your professional genealogy consultation for more information.
When can a consultation help?
The best thing about a consultation is that it's completely tailored to your level and where you're at in your research - it's really an all-purpose tool.
This means that researchers of different experience levels should expect to get different things out of a consultation - after all, each unique research question will call for a unique research plan.
Below are some different scenarios in which a consultation might help.
When you’re just beginning your research
Beginners of all levels can benefit from a professional consultation. It's crucial to form the right habits when you're just starting out, and there's no one better to show you the ropes than someone who has accrued years of experience finding ancestors.
Figuring out where to start can also be overwhelming - there are many options these days. A professional can help you sift through all of the noise and guide you to the best place to start.
When you’re considering hiring a researcher for a paid project
Professionals are also often hired for hourly research projects. If you're thinking of hiring someone to do research for you, a consultation can help you to figure out if that's the best way to proceed before you make a major investment in the project.
Speaking with a professional will help get you thinking about what the possibilities are - what you might get out of a paid research project and where a professional could go with your research problem.
When you have found the easy stuff but don't want to stop there
Consultations are also perfect for those who love to research and have already made progress.
Maybe you have found all of the "easy" records related to your family history, and want to find records that will tell you even more about your ancestors. Or perhaps you've found most of your American relatives, but now hunger to know where your immigrant ancestor came from and research your overseas ancestors.
A professional can help you take your research to the next level by making recommendations for record sets, methodological approaches, and more. Together, you'll figure out what to look at next and why that's the best course of action.
When you have a document or documents you need help interpreting
Intermediate and advanced records can find can be deep and valuable, but also complicated. If you have found some more advanced evidence such as a land or probate record, you want to make sure to get he most out of it.
Analysis is a huge part of success in genealogy, and a professional genealogist can provide an expert analysis of any record to help you learn important things about your ancestor that you may not have realized were even in there.
When you’ve hit a brick wall
We've all been there - sometimes you're just stuck.
Whether it's a record that can't be found, a person that isn't where you think they should be, or any other problem that is giving you fits, a professional genealogist is the perfect person to consult.
Your mystery won't be completely solved in one consultation, but you can be certain that with the advice of an expert, you'll have some solid recommendations for the avenues that you might take next.
When you’ve exhausted all of the online New York records
There are many New York records that are both essential to genealogists and completely inaccessible online. In general, New York State has a complicated records landscape - many key record sets have yet to be digitized (and won't be for a long time).
If you've found that you have exhausted online records when trying to answer a research question, it might be a good time to sit down with a professional genealogist who specializes in New York records.
Professional genealogists who research in New York State can give you the "boots on the ground" perspective you need to evaluate what treasures records held in brick-and-mortar repositories may hold.
When you’re planning a research trip
If you find yourself in the scenario above, a consultation may help you learn that it's well worth your time to plan a research trip to New York State.
Those who plan to travel from a distance to research in New York should go through a careful planning process. A professional genealogist can give you the intel you need to know about each repository you plan to visit, which will help you make the most out of your precious time. In talking to a professional, you may even pick up a tip on a repository you didn't plan to visit, but should.
Professional consultations are a crucial part of any research trip - that's why they are a part of both our Research in Albany Tour and our annual New York City Research Trip.
When you want to give a genealogy enthusiast an awesome gift
Maybe you're not the one who needs a consultation, but you may know someone who does. If you know someone who loves researching their family history, a professional consultation can be a thoughtful and memorable gift.
Our society offers professional consultations that cost $50 for 30 minutes with NYG&B Genealogist, Meryl Schumacker.
When you order a gift consultation you will receive a PDF that you can download and print out, or email to the recipient. The lucky genealogist can then reach out to us and schedule the consultation - in person or over the phone - at their convenience.
About the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society
Since 1869, the NYG&B's mission has been to help our thousands of worldwide members discover their family's New York story, and there has never been a better time to join.
The cost of an Individual Annual Membership is less than six dollars a month, and includes the following benefits:
- Access to over 50 exclusive digital record sets covering the entire state of New York, including the fully searchable archives of The Record.
- A complimentary subscription to all of Findmypast's North American records, as well as U.K. and Irish Census records.
- Access to hundreds of expert-authored Knowledge Base articles and webinars to help you navigate the tricky New York research landscape.
- Exclusive discounts and advanced access to conferences, seminars, workshops and lectures to learn more about researching people and places across New York State.
To learn more or join us, please visit our member benefits page.