For the past few years I have volunteered my time at numerous places to give genealogy consultations. More often than not, its Irish research. I have noticed a few things while doing this that make it very hard to continue to give my time freely to different organizations. I have spent the past few days debating on how to write this post. I could complain, and tell you all the things I see that are wrong and make giving a consultation (free or otherwise) difficult to do. Instead, I have decided to take opposite road. Give some advice on how to get the best out of your consultation.
- Know your time frame for the consultation. For most of the free consultations you will have 30 minutes.
- Come prepared with questions. Think about what you want to know!
- Understand that a consultation does not mean that your tree or family member will be researched at that moment.
- Pick two families that you are focusing on and decide who is most important in your research. The second family is for if you have more time.
- Realize that if there are multiple people giving the consultation that their time is as important as yours. Do not go person to person asking the same questions.
- Do not force your spouse to ask questions about their family. They might not be interested. If you want to research their family, make sure you use them in one of the two families you pick.
- Bring pertinent information; birth, marriage and death are a good place to start. Know the family you are asking about. We will want to know what records you have. But, that does not mean you need to have every record with you.
- Bring a pen and paper to take notes.
- If the option is available, please submit your questions ahead of time and upload the pertinent documents. When this is shared with the person giving the consultation, you give them time to prepare for you.
- If someone else spent the past twenty years doing research and sent it to you, do not bring that research expecting those who are offering consultations to finish the research. If you want to research the family further, spend your time learning how to do genealogy research.
I hope this helps those of you who take advantage of free consultations that are offered throughout the year. We want you to walk away happy from your consultation, in order for us to do this you need to come prepared.