How does the process of hiring you for genealogy research work?
Each client and request can be different. The simplest request is a record look-up, or several records. These are records that are already indexed somewhere, often online, and I will simply create a digital image from the microfilm at the Family History Library and email it to you. If you require more help with research, I bill at an hourly rate with a minimum of ten hours. When the time is completed, you will receive a report of all my findings, a list of the source documents, and digital images of those documents.
The initial discovery is complimentary. You will send me information about the family you want researched and I will see what records I have access to, if there are indexes, and possibly find some initial records to get started with your research. While we can have a formal contract, I often work with just a simple agreement and a payment from you to cover the first ten hours.
How long will it take to you to research my family?
I can’t really answer this question. Even knowing some details about your family history, I cannot determine how long it will take me to exhaust my resources. I may find that I have no access to records, or I may find vital records in your ancestral village going back two hundred years. Either way, I can never be sure how much I will find about your family. That is why I work at an hourly rate. My first ten hours of research will usually determine if I need to do more. Sometimes I will find the US records listing the ancestral town and begin to do the European research. Sometimes your ancestors arrived so early that I can’t find the ancestral town and will have to keep searching. And sometimes things will be easier and I will find a plethora of European records about your family in the first attempt. Some families are entirely elusive and others seem almost like they want to be found.
In what areas of research are you most experienced?
The areas I’ve research the most would probably be New York City and 19th century Jewish Polish records. I have also worked with records from Ukraine, Hungary, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, France, Spain, Italy, and Greece. I can work in most European languages, but I’m obviously much more experienced at some than others.
How many languages do you know?
I am only fluent in English, but I’m working on that. Reading the records and speaking a language are very different skills. I have worked in records in Polish, Russian, Hebrew, Hungarian, French, Spanish, Italian, Czech, Ukrainian, and German. On the other front, I have been learning to speak both Polish and Russian for my trips to Europe.
Can you do research on-site in Europe?
YES! I took my first trip to Europe in the summer of 2012 where I spent one month mostly in Poland and Ukraine, visiting ancestral locations and doing research in the archives. I found more information about my own family and made a great breakthrough for one client.
As easy as it is to research at the Family History Library, there really is nothing like looking through the original books and searching through records that haven’t been indexed.
Why are you so interested in genealogy?
I have given several answers to that over the years. I used to say that I was looking for cousins with my surname. (My father is an only child, as is his only Feldstein cousin, a female.) The truth is, it’s a lot of things. A fourth grade assignment got me curious, and my grandparents soon told me that they were from families of 5, 8, and 12 children. I went to a cousin’s bar mitzvah when I was three, didn’t remember any of it except that there were a lot of relatives in attendance, and hadn’t been back to Canada since (until I started doing genealogy research). I knew I had a lot of relatives, I just didn’t know any of them.
As another curiosity, I once looked up the Cancer-Leo cusp horoscope (I’m on the cusp, depending on which transition dates you go by) and it actually pointed out that the Cancer-Leo has an interest in family history. Not that I’m saying that I believe in horoscopes, but I know a lot of genealogists who have birthdays right around that time of year.