What Are You Buying?

Published September 28, 2011 by Steve Watts #

I was speaking with a Genealogy Research industry participant the other day. It was pretty interesting to hear the perspective. One of the points he emphasized with me was that buyers of research tend not to know what they are buying. He also said they have more business than they know what to do with. That seems to me to be 1) good news for the industry, and 2) trouble brewing for this particular participant at a minimum. It seems better that people who are paying you money to do something for them also know what the work product will be.

That said, I do actually believe I understand the point. With all of the publicity out there - ancestry.com ads, Who Do You Think You Are TV shows, etc., it certainly seems like interest should be growing. What do people who are newly motivated to investigate expect? That’s a difficult question since the answers I’ve heard seem to vary almost as much as the personalities of the folks offering their opinions on the matter.

The Genealogy industry seems to think you want facts and they’ve geared up to provide those facts and the documentation to go along with them. The process of hunting down these facts and resolving the mysteries that come along with them can be part of what you think you are buying. Detective work and solving puzzles and mysteries is compelling to many. If that’s what you are looking for, then you are in luck. You can get lost in the mazes and come out in a couple of years with lots of rewarding experiences and lots of good family history and documentation.

Along your journey, you’ll likely find at least a few, and perhaps many people who will be willing to collaborate with you in your efforts. This is also something the Genealogy industry seems to think you want. This seems a safer bet than the prior paragraph for most people. For our part on our own family research, this has been the biggest benefit. The connections we’ve established in our research have been rewarding in communication value and in terms of the information people have been willing to share with us. These things take time as well, but they are rewarding to say the least.

In more than one case, we’ve gotten “spare me the details, I just want the interesting stories” about where my family is from, and what they did while there. You can’t really get to the point where you can credibly tell these stories without the details, and, so, the DIY (do-it-yourself) industry hasn’t quite gotten there for these folks.

There is lots more than can be said on this topic. It’s crucial to any supplier/customer relationship. We hope you won’t be bashful about what you want from us or anyone you choose to help you. Our goal is to delight you as our customer throughout the process, and this demands your feedback and involvement.

Understanding that Genealogy is generally a search for information that may or may not exist is crucial. In the not-so-distant past, pursuing a Family History tended to be a life endeavor that one handed down from generation to generation, finding tidbits and very occasionally troves here and there along the way. The new computer-based tools have made finding many of the tidbits simpler, although there are often (always) many more that these new tools can’t find yet. Someone must make the information available, and there are a great deal of records out there. Some haven’t been made available and some, unfortunately, are even still guarded from view for one reason or another. Some of the more interesting troves come about when you find a family member (close or distant) who is also researching and is willing to share and collaborate with you. Since people are not all interested at the same time, it can take some time to make these connections if they are going to happen, but it can certainly be very rewarding when it does happen!

Happy hunting and story telling - we hope that you will honor us by letting us help you immerse yourself in the history of your family.