Commissioning Research from an AGI member
There are no strict rules for professional genealogists to follow when it comes to the step by step process of dealing with clients. Individual AGI members all have their own preferred approach and their own style of reporting. AGI is not legally entitled to regulate the process. However all AGI members should state their hourly rate and terms on receipt of a written request. The following are a few pointers that may help those thinking about commissioning research.
Choosing a genealogist.
Deciding on which genealogist or record agent to engage based only on an advertisement in a genealogical magazine or journal is quite a risk. You are always best advised to approach someone who claims accreditation from a professional body which controls membership by assessment and regulates practice. As the majority of genealogical records are held in repositories in Dublin and /or Belfast, regional specialisation is not a major factor in Irish research and most AGI are in a position to conduct research on families from any part of Ireland. However, some members prefer to concentrate exclusively on certain geographical areas, while many have particular interest in, and knowledge of, certain localities, record types or social or religious groups. It is best, therefore, to carefully scan the AGI membership list before approaching any individual. Because of variations in methodology and differing hourly rates, it is best to make initial enquiries with two or more members.
A brief letter or email is the best initial approach. You should be able to summarise in a paragraph the relevant information on the generation you wish to research. This will allow the genealogist to broadly assess the possibilities of research and to ask you for more specific information if necessary. Attempting to research a remote ancestor who may have been born in Ireland sometime in the nineteenth century is pointless. You need specifics. If you don’t have them, you need to get research done in your own country before approaching someone in Ireland. The very least you need to know is the name of the ancestor born in Ireland, an approximate date of birth (or marriage if they married before emigrating), the county of origin (unless their surname was very unusual) and the name of one parent.
What to expect
Again, individual styles differ, but all AGI members will provide a typescript report detailing positive and/or negative results. Source references will be given in the body of the report and/or in an attached list of sources consulted. Where possible relevant photocopies are also provided.