Genealogical Research - How much will it cost?

Genealogical Research - How much will it cost?

Vladimir Bohinc, Professional Genealogist

How much will cost?

This is one of the first questions. Often asked even before any details of the possible research are known. With this article I would like to give more insight into the subject, to help you with your evaluation and decision .

What is research?

It is going into dark, unknown. When talking about the genealogical research, starting from known into unknown, it may happen, that at the very beginning certain information will be found, that will confirm something, you still remember or you have heard about, but were not sure whether it was important or not. Further on, only new, unknown facts will be revealed.

Very often, this new data suggest, you must modify your initial research plan. Things appear, that were not considered or thought possible at the beginning. These may be:

  • illegitimate birth of your ancestor
  • multiple marriages of your ancestor
  • migration of your ancestor
  • appearance of obvious connection to families you did not reckon with
  • appearance of siblings, not known before
  • unexpected nobility status
  • partial non-existence of records, that makes further research not possible
  • too close blood relations

for some to mention.

For the above reasons, the research may eventually take a very different shape as originally planned.

How long will it take?

The time needed to accomplish the task, depends in general upon following factors:

  • How good are your data; it may happen, that the dates and even surnames, that you have in the start, are not correct. This may take some extra time to find the correct spelling and date of birth for example.
  • Place of birth not known; this is an extra subject, that would require another article. It is one of the biggest problems in genealogy. If this is the case, I would split the research in two major tasks; finding the place of birth as one and researching the ancestry as two. In a somewhat milder form, this problem may occur any time later again, when one of the spouses joined the tree, coming from the unknown place.
  • Religion not known; If there are several religions in the same place, maybe more than one set of records will have to be searched in order to find the first lead.
  • Size of the Parish; In my practice in Slovakia I experienced the differences among the Parishes in their size of population in relation of one to ten. The largest having about 600 births per year and the smallest about 60. It is obvious, provided there is no index, that the search in a larger one may take up to ten times longer than in a small one. This is a big difference, that directly translates to the cost of research. Indexes are there only sporadically and also not for all years or not for all events. Especially searching for the death record of a person can be lengthy, since in most cases, we can not make any guesses, when somebody may have died and look only in that time span. Looking for death for example in a 500 deaths/year community for a person that died age 62 would mean checking 31000 records to find only one date.
  • Quality of the records; It is also obvious, that , since the records were written by priests, we come across all kinds of handwriting. From very nice to not readable. Also the quality of ink may vary very much. Some parts of the records will be written with very weak ink, that makes the record hardly recognizable. Not to mention the languages, which are being used for the records; Latin, Slovak, Hungarian, German. Typically, the older the record, the worse is the reading and the reading speed drops dramatically.
  • Marriages; A relative disadvantage of a small parish is, that more marriages of male spouses have been made in other, usually surrounding parishes. There can be up to ten parishes, that come in question, and they have to be searched for a marriage or possible marriage of one person from our original Parish. Marriage records are also a very good source of information for connecting the families. If they are good, they provide names of spouses, their ages and profession, location of their origin and names of their parents. The older the record, the less information is provided. So, it is not unusual, that already in 1850, we have no parents noted. To find a parent of a spouse is then a lengthy process, since all but one person with the name of the spouse, that has been born in a given or guessed time period, can be taken as the most likely spouse.
  • Migration; People migrated in all times. It would be naive to expect all of them to live in one place for several hundred years. Since we can hardly know the reasons for such a migration, it is very hard to guess either where did they go or where did they come from. Sometimes luck is of help, sometimes experience or references to other cases. Sometimes it is the dead end.
  • Living relatives; If the task includes finding living relatives, a certain tree structure has to be created in order to be able to address the potential relatives. They may be not living at the original location and are dispersed all over the country. It can happen, that the male surname of your ancestors died out. In spite of the fact, that such surname in general still exists, there is no way to prove the relation, because there are no records old enough. In any case, lines have to be created from your ancestors into the 20th century for consecutive generations, going back in time as long as necessary or possible, to find a relative.
  • Travelling to locations; Sometimes a visit to the Parish office, to the cemetery, to the Mayor's Office or to the living relatives will be necessary.
  • Land Record Research; In the course of the genealogical research, it may happen, that certain facts about the inheritance are discovered, that lead you to start researching the property matters.
  • Documentation; If you want to have the research results fully documented, you will need to order either Official Transcripts or Certificates.

So, how much shall it then really cost?

Taking into account the above, it is clear, that at the beginning, one can not tell, how long it will take and thus how much it will eventually cost.

In order to minimize the risk, the research is being done in parts or blocks, that are limited with a certain amount of funds. This can be anywhere from $50 onwards. Based on the results one can then easier decide, whether and how to proceed . The final cost depends only upon you; how much are you willing to invest into research. Technically, the Family Tree can go back in time up to 10 or 11 generations. Sideways, the expansion of the tree is practically unlimited. For a simple, straightforward task with known starting data, one can make an estimate, based on similar cases from the same, known Parish.

At your discretion you can also stop the research for couple of months or more, and continue at some later date.

Vladimir Bohinc

Vladimir Bohinc of the KONEKTA Genealogical Agency is a professional genealogist serving people with ancestors from the Slovak Republic. His speciality is Western Slovakia. Additional services include locating live relatives and heirs, trip planning to Slovakia and actual visits to relatives. For more information, please visit his web page.


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