Genealogy Research Tips for Wayne County, Indiana

What Information Does Your Professional Researcher Need To Receive From You?

by Arnold L. Dean - 2000

Through the years of personal family history research and doing research for others, I have come to realize that the search can be "focused" if the background information is supplied, and the request for information is formulated in a certain manner.  The ideas that I am going to mention will make your search more efficient, and will help a professional researcher have a more complete picture of the family about which you are requesting information.  Also, the "focus" will be more pointed if you present your request in a certain format, rather than a long, rambling description of the family.

First:  Send the professional researcher a copy of all the information you have in regard to the individual about whom you want information.

I am finding in this "instantaneous, right now age", that people want to give the professional researcher three or four lines of information, or three or four minutes of information on the telephone, with about a one line request for information.  Then, the researcher is expected to come up with "the exact information the client wants" and nothing more.

The researcher needs to know, as much as you know, about the parents of the person, the persons wife or husband, and the children.  If you supply that information in a recognized and organized format, it will save the researcher a lot of time, and will save you a good bit of money.

When answering a research request, I have discovered that if I put the request in the following format, the request becomes "focused" to the information sources that are available, and may reveal the information desired.  

Answer these questions, in this order:

When?  did the event take place? -- exact date or approximate time period -- this will create a "focus" on what information sources are available for that time period.
Where? did the event take place?  City, county, or state -- whatever you know or think.  This creates a "focus" on what records or information sources are available for that state or local geographical area.
What Event? do you want to find?  Birth, marriage, death record, etc.  Already knowing the When? and Where?, the researcher will now know whether this information is easily available, or whether alternative research sources will have to be used.
Who? are you searching for?  The family information you furnished will fill in some of the unknowns for the researcher.   This information will help the researcher know if tidbits or pieces of information located pertain to this person or family.

With the "focus" items above satisfied, the researcher can often find the information, which may determine the How? and Why?, so you can fill in the individual or family picture.

Mr. Arnold L. Dean was a professional family history researcher, and was President of the Wayne County Genealogy Society for several years.  His experience included doing research in various research sites from Lake City, MI to Salisbury, NC and from Cape May, NJ to Lexington, NE.  Through the years, he was enrolled in a number of genealogical institutes, conferences and training sessions.  He was the author/publisher of about 25 books of compiled genealogical records. Prior to his death in 2014, Mr. Dean resided in Richmond, Indiana.

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