professional genealogy

Genealogy Mentoring: What is it and why do I want a mentor?

Most genealogists are staring at me blankly right now. They’ve never heard the term.

So, what it is it? Genealogy mentoring is a guiding relationship between a less-experienced genealogist and a more experienced one. The relationships can be formed in a variety of ways. A mentoring relationship can be formed between friends. Take a look at the blog on My Heritage for more information. It gives you someone to share stories with, but they not be able to answer detailed questions. Some genealogical societies encourage a mentoring relationship: they’ll act as “guides” around brick walls. They will not do research. See the North San Diego Genealogical Society’s webpage for more information. Finally, it can be formed between a professional genealogist and a client.

The third option is probably the least talked about – and it’s my favorite part of my client work. What do I do as a genealogical mentor? I work actively with a client to accomplish their research goals by checking their work, offering a plan for getting around a brick wall, or when wished, doing some research myself. I can check to make sure a client is on the right track or offer new eyes when they’re stuck. Most important, I know who to ask when an expert is needed. I’m a teacher, and my job in this situation is to teach. Think of it as genealogical “tutoring.” For the client, it has a double benefit: I’m keeping them active in the research – and possibly saving the time and money of heading in the wrong direction – and they’re learning from my experience. Plus, I find having the client involved is that much more fun!

Why not consider a genealogical mentor the next time you get stuck?

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