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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Find a record? It's like the winning G9 on your bingo card.

In this genealogical climate of cases and brick walls so much is written within the confines of the skill and art of this field, yet not much is penned concerning the client and the genealogist as individuals other than the demographic makeup of age, gender and salary range and so curiosity of such stories are the theme of this topic. We feel it high time that the individual reasons for the love of genealogy be known and heralded. After all, if not for both, the field would be left to statistics alone without the battle cries and kudos of the journey and arrival.

For the genealogist the drive appears to be for the love of history and puzzles; a need to best one self in what can, at times, be a solo venture. Let’s face it; not everyone is as enamored with the finding of great, great grandpa Jeremiah as say … you. Often the glazed look of the recipient to our discovery tales is indicative of the yawn they suppress or a roll of their eyes, or worse yet the calculated measuring of the distance to the nearest exit. None of what you’re telling them is boring .. to you; so why don’t they get it? I think the birds of a feather synopsis best applies; however other researchers show signs of weary slumber as well when the ancestors discussed are not their own and although there is an appreciation to your findings it is not quite the same as finding THEIR gg-grandpa Jeremiah. Think of those moments when you had your nose buried in film number 189…. And then Sally who has the reader to your right squeals in delight of breaking what would appear to be the DiVinci code. Were you 100% thrilled when you murmured your platitudes or completely oblivious to anything other than the Latin text you were just then perusing? In turn, have you not at least once, consciously or subconsciously, squealed out loud and heard the same platitudes from those around you? It’s part of the package; the winning G9 on your BINGO card. You succeeded and it’s next to impossible to keep a secret of it.

The above description may imply a kind of narcissism to the genealogist, but it’s anything but. There’s intensity to the job at hand, yet there is a generosity to the researcher in that if asked for help on a particular quandary then it has been my experience that help is easy to acquire as the element of camaraderie of mates in common takes hold. It is then that the interest in THEIR gg-grandpa Jeremiah becomes your interest as well. This then leads me to the relationship between the genealogy seeker, or in other terms, the recreational genealogist or family historian and the professional researcher or genealogy freelance specialist. The relationship of client and professional is an exercise in tandem and it is one of great satisfaction, in most cases, for both.

As a professional I must say that the common denominator of the many clients I have had throughout the years is patience. It may be that I specialize and therefore; I presume that most of my clients have performed a good deal of their own research prior to their contact with me and have knowledge of the time necessary to be thorough, but I am also inclined to believe that there is an innate sense of decency to these folk in that beyond the puzzle solving there is a true desire to honor their ancestry and with honor there is almost always a kind soul. In all my years I can honestly report that I have never had a disagreeable client. Am I lucky; I don’t think it’s about luck. I think that it’s a combination of the desire to know and appreciation of taking the journey with another who’s on the same road, one who can discuss Jeremiah and his lineage in detail and who can rejoice in findings or ponder new possibilities if findings are few. Finding a record can at times, be a matter of course; however there are some instances where feeling a bit like Santa is not an exaggeration when a client is so completely appreciative.