Recently, we had a potential client contact us about providing genealogy research services in Providence and Coventry, Rhode Island.  I was excited since we have an office about 4o miles away just over the border in Massachusetts that services our New England based genealogy research.  After telling him this he responded by saying, “…you are falsely advertising your expertise in Rhode Island genealogy research since you are not located in Providence, Rhode Island”. Wow, this really surprised me!

Even though I did not agree with his assessment I needed to try to understand why he felt this way.

  • Was he bothered by us not being located in Rhode Island?
  • Was the issue being over the border in Massachusetts?
  • Or was it the 40 miles?
  • What if we were 40 miles from Providence but within the state boundaries?
  • Or did we need to be smack in the middle of Providence?

How close is too far for genealogy research?

Now that is something Yogi Berra might ask!  To be located only 40 miles from a research location is rare for us since we do genealogy research all over the world.  To be criticized for not being closer made me wonder about physical proximity to the regions in which we research genealogy.

  • How often are professional genealogists criticized for being too far away to be effective?
  • Do professional genealogists feel that is a fair assessment?
  • Do professional genealogists feel their research abilities and resourcefulness are being minimized?
  • Do professional genealogists feel they can effectively do genealogy research from a distance?

Do the amateur genealogists understand that:

  • We travel to local family history centers and at times travel to Salt Lake City, Utah to visit the LDS family history library to view films from all over the world. Now that is going in the opposite directions for regions we research!
  • We have ways of accessing local records without actually traveling to those locations?

What are the expectations of our potential genealogy research clients?

I am left to wonder about the expectation of our potential clients and their basis in the current day reality of professional genealogists.  As I just mentioned, we do genealogy research all over the world, plus we also have an office in Denver.  How many genealogists have two offices?  We see this as a huge advantage since it doubles the regions we can cover in close physical proximity.  Does that mean that I am falsely advertising expertise in Colorado genealogy if I am researching in Colorado Springs which is more than 40 miles away?  The states are much larger in the west and Denver is much more than 40 miles away from the bordering states of:

  • Utah.
  • Wyoming.
  • Nebraska.
  • Kansas.
  • Oklahoma.
  • New Mexico.
  • Arizona.

And we effectively provide genealogy research services in those regions as well.

How are we successful researching genealogy all over the world?

Most of our clients have ancestors from many parts of the country as well as overseas and we are able to successfully research their genealogy without traveling to those destinations. Why?  Because we have the:

  • Knowledge of records available.
  • Knowledge of the information they contain.
  • Knowledge of where to search for them.
  • Knowledge of who to contact.
  • Resourcefulness to get it done.

Our knowledge and efforts have led to the ultimate satisfaction of our clients.

What is causing this concern?

Is this a throw back to before the internet which has made global communication so much easier?  Maybe!  But the reality of today is that it is not necessary to physically be in the particular location you are researching to successfully research genealogy.  However, unfortunately, there are those who have been led to believe this is the only way.

I am left to wonder from an earlier blog, if this another fallout of the TV program, “Who Do You Think You Are” that depicts wealthy celebrities traveling the world in search of their ancestors and meeting up with local historians and genealogists in search of records.  Is this what it is all about?  I have already gone on record regarding the unfortunate portrayal of genealogy research being done in this fashion and it’s affect on the expectations of the amateur genealogist.  While the program has great entertainment value, how many people can afford to travel the world searching for their ancestors?


We finished our conversation with him telling us he was going to try to find a genealogist located right in Providence.  Well, we followed up by explaining in more detail our knowledge of the records in the area and he responded back that if we could access a certain record he would hire us.  Now that is what it is all about!  His real concern was our ability to access certain records.  All we had to do was educate a potential client regarding our capabilities.


  • Do you have the same concerns?
  • How close is too far?
  • Do you believe that your professional genealogist needs to be located in the same region you are researching?
  • Do you depend more on the professional genealogist’s knowledge, expertise, and resourcefulness to be successful?
  • Or is it all simply about being able to access local records?


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