Whether it's for a school project or simple curiosity, tracing your family history can be a fun family project. With so many tools at your disposal, it's never been easier – and more complicated – to search for your ancestors. It's easy for kids to get involved, too.
But what happens if you hit a roadblock? Should you hire a professional? A genealogist will have the experience and tools to find information that may not be easily accessible to you.
You Might Need a Genealogist If...
You're Stuck – Really Stuck
Sites like Ancestry.com make it easy to start tracing your family history. They offer a wealth of resources, with records from all over the world. But sometimes, even with millions of documents at your fingertips, you hit a brick wall.
When researching my own family history, I hit a wall with one particular relative on my mother's side. I could not find a grave site, death certificate – nothing. It was as if he just disappeared after moving to Ohio.
Others have also asked about this relative on message boards. Experts chimed in. Nothing. If I hired a genealogist, I could probably find the information I need.
If you just want to solve the mystery once and for all, it may be time to work with a genealogist.
You're Pressed for Time
If you don't have tens of hours to dedicate to researching your family history, you may want to hire a professional.
It can be particularly time-consuming to research family history if you have sparse information about your relatives or you have family all over the world.
If you have a busy schedule, a genealogist may solve all of your problems.
You Need to Prove Lineage for Legal Purposes
In some cases, you may need to prove your lineage for legal proceedings or to prove dual citizenship by descent. In these cases, it's absolutely necessary to ensure that your research is accurate.
When you hire an experienced genealogist, you can be sure that the research and results are accurate. Professionals understand records – which ones to look for and which ones are available. They know how to tackle roadblocks that you might encounter, and they may have access to additional records.
You Might Not Need a Genealogist If...
You Love the Pursuit and Discoveries
If you're the type of person who loves the process of researching family histories, you may not want to hire a genealogist. The thrill of the chase – to find out just a little bit more information – can make the entire process addicting.
When you trace your own family history, you make fun and exciting discoveries. You find new stories to tell. And you get the satisfaction of knowing that you did all of the hard work yourself.
You're Not in a Rush
If you're not in a rush to find all of the information, you may not need to hire a professional. You might enjoy doing some research during your free time on weekends or on your lunch break.
If the research isn't time-sensitive, you may be better off doing the work yourself.