Hiring a researcher or a genealogist?
When hiring a professional to perform your Italian research there are several things to consider. A professional researcher is not a genealogist. A genealogist has qualifications and a deeper understanding of the process of creating a family tree. He/she can solve lineage problems and know where to find obscure records to continue your family line. A genealogist is invaluable for noble family lines as they are familiar with notarial records that can provide additional information. Genealogists often use researchers to do the ‘legwork’ of the search, reviewing and controlling the information as it is found, and deciding how to proceed. Genealogists cost more than researchers, but are important when there are problems.
Many of the people who respond with information on the message boards do research by payment. Some are located in the USA and use the records microfimed by the LDS for their research. This is perfectly acceptable however the LDS did not film all Italian records and sometimes they filmed only copies which lack some of the additional information that can be found in the town originals.
Some responders are located in Italy and if they are far from the town of origin they too use the LDS microfilms to perform the research.
The films for many towns stop in 1865, others go to 1900 but often those records after 1866 were filmed at the Tribunal and are reconstructed records. This means that if your ancestor left Italy before WW2 their record probably won’t be found.
Ideally you want to hire someone who can go directly to the town of origin and search the archives of the town or parish. You also want to make sure they can commmunicate well in the English language. Interpretation of the information is an important part of the search.
If you can’t find someone who lives close to the town, the research can be done by phone and fax and that means that your researcher must also have a good command of the Italian language and the rules surrounding the obtaining of information. Often this will limit the sibling portion of the search depending on the cooperation of the town. Most priests will not do genealogical research. They simply do not have the time. So once you have arrived at that point it may be necessary to pay your researcher to go to the town. Again I urge you to choose someone already located in Italy or you may be contributing to their airfare in their fee.
Make sure the fees are clearly stated. A fee for (up to) 9 generations of research may seem like a good deal but if the records don’t exist for the last 3 generations the fee may stand anyway. Decide how you want the results to be presented. Do you want copies of the records and a GEDCOM file, or the information already arranged in book form ready to preseant to your family. Each format will have its own price. Your budget will determine which you choose.