Telling people that I'm a genealogist elicits almost inevitably the same few standard responses:
- Oh, do you work for the Church? (This one comes from other LDS people who know that our Church does a lot in the genealogy sphere.)
- I really need to get going on my own genealogy. (This one comes from LDS people for this reason.)
- So, what do you do all day? (This one comes from just about anybody who can't fathom the idea of somebody paying me to research dead people all day long.)
But who can afford to pay to hire you for ten or more hours of research? Well, generally the people are independently wealthy. They usually have an interest in genealogy or else a specific need or task within their genealogy that they want us to accomplish.
People who are just generally interested will often have us research and research and research and research until we've told them that we've exhausted all our resources on that branch and suggest to them that we move to another branch. We have a few clients like this.
Usually the tasks are these:
- Breaking through a genealogical "brick wall." - This means a client is somewhat (or even very) genealogy-savvy but they have gotten to a point where it is too hard to solve the problem, so they ask us for help. This can be finding somebody's birth place, last name, parents' names - whatever.
- Irish passports. If you have ONE great-grandparent born in Ireland, you can get an Irish passport. Lots of people want Irish passports, but it can often be difficult to prove that your Patrick O'Sullivan in Chicago is the same Patrick O'Sullivan in Limerick, and that's where we come in.
- Memberships to organizations - To become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, you have to prove that you are directly descended from a man who fought in the Revolution. There are similar organizations as well, and we can help members prove their ancestry and get in.
- Probate cases - There are a few states that require every single heir to be named before an estate can be settled. I know that Illinois and New York are two such states. Sometimes lawyers hire us to help us track down living heirs who are distantly related to the deceased individual. (For example, a person who died without children, and without nieces or nephews).
- Find living relatives such as distant cousins.
- Determining any possible genetic health concerns.
- Joining a Native American tribe. This is similar to joining an organization, but it is a bit different. Many people have heard from their parents that they are part Native American, and then they seek to prove that lineage so they can get in on the oodles of money that tribes are making these days with their casinos. (This is the topic of my next post).
Does anyone get the reference in the title?