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What does it COST to do Family History Research?

This is a frequently asked question as we always like to know what it costs before we commit to buying something. Before we consider the cost of Family History Research, let’s consider something ‘simple’ like a loaf of bread. When buying bread, we consider many factors such as plain or fancy, mass-produced or handmade, gluten-free, plus many other factors before we make that final decision of which loaf to buy.
This might be a low priced loaf or a much higher priced loaf, but both are ‘just’ a loaf of bread.
Why does the price of bread vary so much?
What is taken into consideration before setting the price of a loaf of bread?
Naturally, the retail price reflects the cost of raw materials plus labour costs. Overheads such as shop rent and cost of equipment required to produce the bread must be recovered plus a profit margin added to make all the effort worthwhile for the seller. The most expensive loaves of bread still sell, so many people must think they are ‘worth’ the higher price.

What is the cost to perform family history research?
A professional researcher will probably offer an hourly rate for their work and most people will probably think,”Hmmm, that is expensive”.  Let’s look at the thousands of dollars worth of expenses and the equipment that the professional researcher has at their disposal, and then consider whether they are ‘worth it’ or not.

You should also consider the amount of time and money you will save by NOT doing it yourself.

Paying a subscription to a website without the knowledge to fully understand could be as crazy as a brickie’s labourer buying the tools required for a brain surgeon. Attempting to use the tools without the knowledge to use them properly can be downright dangerous. Family history research is very complex and has many facets. Many family trees on Ancestry and other websites contain errors that can give very poor results if copied. One wrong ancestor and the rest of the research will be like a train on the wrong track that will arrive at a very different destination. This is very inconvenient for train travellers but it is far more critical for Family History research where it is a waste of so much of your time and money. Professional researchers follow a workflow and prove each step of the journey via the Genealogical Proof Standard. Professional researchers will also collaborate with other professionals when required.

Most researchers find they have a niche, a specialty, maybe Irish or German Family History is their passion and expertise. It is rare to find any experienced Family History Researcher who would claim to be an expert in every area, although there would certainly be many inexperienced researchers who would claim to be able to ‘do it all’.

University Diplomas can cost thousands of dollars and can take years to complete. This is an overhead that a professional researcher must pay, similar to an apprenticeship in any trade, so their charge rate as a professional should include a fee for this huge cost and their ‘unpaid time’ training to do your research.  

Seminars and tutorials are a constant requirement to keep up with the changes in family history research. These expenses and ‘unpaid time’ spent by the professional researcher will be a great benefit to you because an experienced researcher may unlock the key to a problem in a few hours when you may have spent years unsuccessfully working on this one problem.

There is a lot of free information available on the web but there is a lot of critical information that is only available if you pay a subscription to access a website, such as Ancestry, My Heritage, Find My Past, to name just some of the major sites. There is a myriad of other specialty websites that also hold the key to unlock many of the roadblocks encountered in family tree research. Family History Groups and Associations also offer a myriad of services and they all require membership fees. These subscriptions can amount to thousands of dollars per year for a professional family history researcher.

If you are lucky enough to visit the workplace (or home) of a family history researcher, there is one thing I am sure you will find – lots of books and other resources. These are costly to buy but invaluable to the research they perform for you. A quick reference from a book on the shelf can save many hours of research.

Of course, a researcher will have a computer but they will have many other electronic gadgets required to gather information and record information. These can include standard scanners, printers, large format scanners for scanning oversize documents, external hard drives, book scanners, negative film scanners, text to speech recorders for recording interviews, and much more. These are also very expensive items but they are worth their weight in gold because they save many hours of research.

Other overheads
Websites, Domain Names, business cards, and other marketing costs are also costs that need to be recovered. Many happy customers would have never even started the research if they did not first find the researcher to do the work for them in the first place. Family History Researchers also need to pay accountants to calculate the tax required to be paid and have overheads just like any other professional.

So, when you look at the hourly rate charged by a Professional Family History Researcher, remember that you will benefit from so much experience, training, equipment when you engage a professional. It also saves you a lot of time and the cost subscriptions and equipment to do this research yourself.

The research packages at Family Tree Search are reasonably priced and designed to suit any research needs, from a few questions about your heritage to a published book about your family tree.
CLICK HERE to see our research packages and prices.

Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten. 

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