Professional Genealogists


Welcome to this corner of my blog! Students, attendees at conferences, and college interns want to know what the life of a professional genealogist is like. If I kept a brief log of what I do in a typical month it could help others determine if there are parts of this work in which you might like to be involved in the future. But let us put this in context first. I do have a genealogy credential which has opened many doors for me in this industry. I have several passions in my life including:

  • I like people
  • I therefore like learning about people and their families
  • I like to share what I do with others as an instructor
  • Learning from others is a great pleasure to me

Let’s give it a try.  You might find it enlightening.

Friday, 1 Feb 2013

I met with a young man who works with an Internet Hosting Service called BlueHost. We became acquainted at a funeral I attended 8 days ago in California.  I was a friend of his grandfather who had passed away, and he lived in Utah not far from me.  I was learning on my own how to use different website building programs to help students make a personal ePortfolio as part of the genealogy/technology courses I teach at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC). Due to my many moves since working with Genealogy Research Associates, Inc., I had to oversee Hosting Services in several companies from California to Georgia. I wanted to be updated on what the future was holding regarding Internet service and which file formats would be best to work in for the future. Company presidents must be aware of trends, how to reduce overhead expenses, keep in contact with their clients, and at the same time, always protect the work they are involved in while allowing that work to migrate forward for the future.

It was a great meeting because Josh was patient, listened to those parts of my Hosting Service details that I understood and sought for those holes in my education of his field where it would help.  I could tell his time and expertise would be most helpful.  I realized what I needed to know would take me time to assimilate.  We set up another meeting for the next week.

Friday I catch up on late homework submissions coming in from students after the weekly check in their distance education courses at SLCC. This semester I’m teaching a great group of students in Genealogy Report Writing and Publishing. Learning how to write professional reports, genealogy stories with lots of images and shorter themes, traditional family histories with the aid of genealogy software programs, and other topics surrounding that theme in the focus.  These same students as well as others are also taking my Preparing for a Genealogy Credential course as they have full intentions of applying for one of the two national genealogy credentials within twelve months of finishing the course. Going through the course with a buddy makes everything more enjoyable.

On Friday I also update my to-do list of work projects for the upcoming week and discuss clients with the research coordinator in Salt Lake City.  Since this is the beginning of a new school semester, I have Interns from surrounding colleges and universities with whom I need to set up a contract of work assignments that would both help them in their potential careers, and help GRA. One is part of an English Internship program at Weber State involving professional writing and editing, so a meeting was set up to go over specific company writing projects with him.  One Intern from BYU’s Genealogy program now works on special projects after completing the internship so work was set up for her.  The rest of the afternoon was spent writing a final report for a client project so it could be sent in the mail on Monday.

Monday, 4 Feb 2013

Today courses began at Monterey Peninsula College in California.  Fortunately I had already opened my courses the previous week to get out of the way the usual technical problems with the wide variety of computer types, Internet browsers, and genealogy computer programs student are using.  The Beginning class LIBR60 is full already, but the LIBR61 Pre-1850 U.S. Sources class has room as well as the LIBR62 Locating Your Immigrant’s Homeland.  Answered many student questions and updated the rosters throughout the day.

Spent three hours searching historic newspapers between 1700 and 1800 in Georgia and South Carolina.  Did quality control on sources staff pulled into client databases.  Wrote instructions on how GRA would like the accounting program to work with inventory items. Did backups to archival storage.

Tuesday, 5 Feb 2013

Prepared PowerPoint Presentations for RootsTech Conference.  Entered bills and calculated invoices for research clients.  Completed 1096 statements and mailed to tax office.  Researched historic newspaper 15 minutes.  Studied papers sent from new clients and set up research plan. Studied historical records for the locality.  Wrote report paragraphs for clients.

Wednesday, 6 Feb 2013

Edited draft booklet done by English Intern.  Studied training programs at BlueHost recommended by rep last week.  Completed presentation to be given tomorrow night to beginning genealogists in the neighborhood.  Studied census records at and for research project, and started report.

Thursday, 7 Feb 2013

Studied research guidance system at for new features to be taught this evening.  Completed PowerPoint (PPT) files.  Studied sources received from record look-up people on new clients and prepared orders for more records to be obtained. Meeting with BlueHost representative on bandwidth and file types for what GRA wants to do. Drove to presentation for neighborhood and returned three hours later.  Graded SLCC classes.

Friday, 8 Feb 2013

Worked with Adobe Dreamweaver which writes the html code needed to post Internet lessons which I taught last night onto my Web site so those who could not attend would have the information.  Took me 4 hours to complete.  Ordered a training book to figure out ways to use the program more effectively.  Prepared list of items GRA needs to have done regarding Internet to discuss with rep on Saturday.  Put items in priority order.  Studied maps of North Carolina in order to explain migrations of families in the east during the early 1700s.  Printed electronically 200 pages of Family Group Records covering all the new sources found during the block.  Prepared a list of suggestions as to what should be done next.

Saturday, 9 Feb 2013

BlueHost rep had time to meet with financial people at GRA in longer period to discuss and illustrate what could be done with Web site management and incorporation of this blog spot. Started work on building the blog spot.  I fear my designing abilities need lots of work.

Monday, 11 Feb 2013

Put the finishing touches on handouts for a Webinar I was asked to give for Legacy on Wednesday of this week.  Uploaded syllabus materials for last of three presentations to be given at RootsTech Conference in a few weeks.  Analyzed family records and federal records for a client and made corrections and loaded sources to her Family Tree at the new FamilySearch Family Tree.  Studied Daughter of the American Revolution records and compared them to Sons of the American Revolution papers now posted at and wrote report of findings to client.  Prepared research planner for Interns on records to locate the parents of a man who married in Missouri and who died in Missouri prior to 1850.   He was originally born in Kentucky according to his children’s 1880 census pages.  Suggested interns obtain his childrens’ burial records at in case their families have information on their father’s birth place in Kentucky.

Tuesday, 12 Feb 2013

Studied the new Ancestral Quest 14 program on some clients who use that program.  It has now completed some timelines for Mormon migration to Utah and throughout the midwest which will be helpful for several clients.  Also there are faster ways for uploading notes from client to FamilySearch files.  That is good for those clients.  Interns arrived from their work in the library yesterday with data on several clients.  They found a published history on the wife of the man we were studying yesterday, but it did not contain any information on the parents of the individual we needed.  Added items to research planner regarding both testate and intestate papers to be searched in the Family History Library next.  Packets of work were given to Interns to complete by next week on data entry for other clients.

Wrote poll questions for the Webinar tomorrow and made updated images of the Legacy computer program’s Research Guidance system to use in the Webinar.  Updated the PowerPoint files for presentation.  Geoff Rasmussen called me to see if I wanted to sell my newest textbook Digging Deeper as an e-book in the Legacy store.  I scrambled around trying to find which archival hard drive system had the original .pdf images of the chapters used for the publishing of the paper bound book and finished sending them to him about 3 in the morning.  Bless his heart, Geoff got up early and had them ready to sell by the time the Webinar was to start.

Wednesday, 13 Feb 2013

We finished scanning the last of 15 years of client materials and shredding thousands of pages of papers that were falling apart from the old dot matrix printers of years past.  It only took about about a year and a half to complete that project, but it really cleaned out our storage facility.  Now the resources are much easier to access electronically.

Set up screen images, microphone, and closed of telephones so the Webinar could be done live in the afternoon.  Over 2,000 people signed up but only the first 1,000 can be on at one time, but Legacy is letting the presentation be shown throughout next week to those who couldn’t get on today.  It was a fun experience and I was happy to hear that many books were being sold.

Thursday, 14 Feb 2013

Training was received on the new Quickbooks Pro accounting program for 2013 in preparation to ask our accountant some questions about ways to enter items in that program.  Contracted workers put together instructions for those needing to use the new program.  Prepared payments of bills.  And set up materials to teach an hour and a half course to our neighborhood on how to use the new FamilySearch Family Tree program to post images to your tree.  My husband presented me with a bouquet of roses after the presentation since it was Valentine’s Day and we were engaged on Valentine’s Day over four decades ago.  Where does the time go?  I have met some nice people in our neighborhood due to doing these neighborhood classes.  It was a good experience, but I will be happy to have it over soon because my students are needing me more now in their classes.

Friday, 15 Feb 2013

Graded homework from the three MPC courses I teach, and consulted with Josh about this blog site.  I want it to link to the website some way, but that site has not yet gone live.  I paid the people at to build the site from my content and images, but they still are not finished with it.  It has taken them several months.  I learned much from that experience that you might profit from hearing about.

The cost for a design team to build a site for is about $1900 if you want a two year plan and help getting everything up.  The original Web site I had built at GRA was over $50,000 so prices are much cheaper and we have learned much over the years.  PLUS I have no shopping chart system in the one I had built at GoDaddy.

My first instructions from Website Design Services was that “Websites are built to your specifications. There are a variety of Web design plans to choose from that allow you to dictate many aspects of your site, such as layout, color schemes, and organization. We construct your website for you. All you need to do is supply content, such as photos and text. Our Web Design Specialists are available to you throughout the Web design process, ensuring that your website reflects your unique needs and preferences.” [Except . . . ]

…Their Design Specialist cannot begin the project until we provide all of the content for the site. Design Specialists cannot provide website content, create an identity for our business, compose a tag line, or develop position statements. Our input is vital to the design process. A great way to start developing our vision is by noting websites and logos that have elements that catch our attention. By this time I wished for a training video.

I read everything, outlined all the instructions, counted the words per page I was allowed, divided everything into sections, and tried to figure out how to send it to the Design Team. I’m a college instructor so decided on PowerPoint, plus filling out all the questions about what I expected. I did not realize that when my site was done it would look like a PowerPoint.  How do other people design Web sites with a Design Team?  I am at a loss!  With, the web designers worked in my office in Salt Lake so we met and talked it over and they went to work.

I would recommend this service to others only by saying, “Do not pay anything until you have already decided everything in the Design Team interview process or you will pay for 6 months of your site being “under construction” while you learn what is needed to build a Web site, gather all the facts from those you work with, determine by reading three or four books on Web sites what is best for your audience, have a graphic designer come up with some ideas for a logo and a header, type all the content, find images for the content, assemble all the pieces, and then submit them for the Design Team”. Unfortunately, I was already running a full-time business, so it probably took me longer than someone who was just starting.

I’m still waiting to see the results even though I gave them all that paperwork after the first of January, 2013 and had hopes it would be up before the courses started in the middle of January.  Now I’m hoping it will be up by RootsTech the end of March.

Monday, 18 Feb 2013

Obtained Italian research from a fellow associate credentialed in that area so spent several hours writing a report to the client and adding the data into his Legacy program.  Then transferred the data to the FamilySearch Trees (FSFT) program.  Graded homework assignments from the Salt Lake Community College courses, and answered lots of questions from people because it is a typical Monday.

Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013

The Interns traveled down from Farmington bringing me their work (that is about one hour north).  We took the materials and divided the data into packets to be data entered and pulled into the client databases in preparation for reports to be written.  We had a meeting about a new form to make the process easier than having to write instructions to each typist about how to enter properly citations.  An Intern from Weber State is working on a publishing project and would like to set up a standardized book on our processes, so he is looking into the Chicago Manual of Style updates.  Now how to condense that 900 page book down to something beginning genealogists and normal people would be happy to use.

Wednesday, 20 Feb 2013

Great news.  Received notification that I was to review a draft of the web design.  That was a double surprise.  I was given one page that was to represent the many PowerPoint pages I sent in.  I sent it to my son to see if he thought it was adequate.  He gave me some suggestions to make to them, and together we drafted a response because I really wanted to get it up soon.   Had great experience uploading a client’s materials into FSFT because it could now link to other people that had been posted in England.  It is great when that can happen.  Was also able to add links to several people thanks to Find-A-Grave entries and was able to let the posters at Find-a-Grave know about evidence we had found so they could talk to the client.  Wonderful day.

Thursday, 21 Feb 2013

Spent 7 hours writing a final report on that great research work performed during the week.  All those new sources coming up at (city directories), and (marriage records for hundreds of counties) is very much helping this work move along.  It is hard to fit everything into a report and get the data entry done as well.  Graded homework for students.

Friday, 22 Feb 2013

Analyzed several transcribed 1830 census records around Saratoga County, New York, including Montgomery, Washington, Rensselaer, Schoharie, and Schenectady that might contain the parents of the man we were seeking born in 1809. Of course his first name is John and there are numerous families in the area with the same surname.  The only way to truly solve this problem is unraveling the many John individuals in those counties and gradually eliminating the possibilities.  It’s been another 60 hour work week.

Monday, 25 Feb 2013

One of the surnamed people from the previous entry left a will in which he mentioned several nieces, deceased sisters, and a nephew all living in different places in Connecticut and New York.  We must study all of these people.  Discovered the husband and wife both left a will and mentioned the same people but the wills each gave different clues which helped us to locate the individuals.  Why would the husband leave $25,000 to one niece, and about $25,500 in total to all the rest of the relatives?  If we find that out, we will likely be able to link these people to the original settlers in Monroe County, New York who came initially from Saratoga County, New York.  Was able to prove that Cornelius was NOT the correct relative even though his will was the first one in the Monroe County area because we found all of his children and they did not include the client’s direct-line person.  Prepared a research plan of records needed in the Family History Library so they could be obtained by the Interns.

Studied the List of U.S. Pensioners, 1818-1872: from records of the Treasury Department payments made semiannually.  Ledgers of Payments, 1818-1872, to U.S. Pensioners Under Acts of 1818 Through 1858 for South Carolina and Georgia to see when Edmund arrived in SC and where he moved to because the pension office would write that on those payment lists.  He had moved to Georgia at the very time the client has lost his ancestor in South Carolina.  In the payments for South Carolina it said he moved to Georgia, and when we found his name on the Georgia records it said he was in a specific county in Georgia and that is where we also found his tombstone.  Those records are now at

There appeared to be people by the name of the client’s family living in Amelia County, Virginia so wrote up research plans to search probate, land and property in the 1750-1770 time period to see if any could be the father of Edmund born 1755 in Virginia. Did an initial study of state-wide records which indicate several areas of interest for this surname.

Tuesday, 26 Feb 2013

Graded student papers while Interns prepared packets for contracted workers. Wrote instructions on how to process Credit Card expenses to GRA and filed in QBPro book.  Answering questions on courses to send to LIBR60, and data entered time from interns.

Wednesday, 27 Feb 2013

Took data off thumb drives and put on hard drive.  Backed up hard drives to external hard drives.  Marked documents to be data entered and sent to contracted data entry clerks.

Thursday, 28 Feb 2013

Pulled in typed materials from Interns and quality controlled the information as it was pasted into the client database.  At the same time put together a preliminary report.  Did this process for two other clients.  Graded homework papers.

Friday, 1 Mar 2013

Took training class online on WordPress from the BlueHost web site.  Talked to rep about what to do with my lessons website that needs to be converted from .asp to .php files for better security.  Had a meeting on phone and e-mail with Weber State Intern on his project to write training materials for GRA contractors.  Graded school papers.

Monday, 4 Mar 2013

Copied and pasted notes from Interns and made research log of sources needed to bring some families to closure in the client database.  Copied and pasted client data from Interns into another database including city directory, land record for Alfred, and 1970 probate for cousins of Caroline.  Data entered cemetery search from client notes taken in 1968 at Chittenango, NY; data entered 1880 and 1900 censuses for Alfred and Sophia and found the SSDI for Caroline.  Entered the marriage records from the newspapers of Chenango County, New York. Researched the 1840 NY, Madison Co, Sullivan Town census records for every one of that surname and compared them to the 1850 NY, Madison Co., Sullivan Town census records and matched up most of the people.  Did the same with 1840 and 1850 censuses for NY, Madison Co., Lenox Town looking for the father of Joseph born 1819 who had a mother Elizabeth born 1785 living with him on the 1850 census.  Added all the obituaries and funeral programs to Sophia’s notes.

Tuesday, 5 Mar 2013

Studied images on the family and matched them up with those in Laura’s collection in Ancestral Quest program and wrote report on findings.  Added notes to database regarding the research of others on the client’s surname families in Legacy.  Wrote final report and suggestions for future research and analysis.  Explained to a student how to fix a problem in her data base caused by RootsMagic6 by using Legacy.

Wednesday, 6 Mar 2013

Copying and pasting client papers into Legacy database regarding Mt. Albion Cemetery, Orleans Co, NY; and other cemeteries in the area for client’s surname families.  Also data entered client personal papers into data base to locate missing children of Philetes, and completed report for client.

Thursday, 7 Mar 2013

Graded homework in all five classes most of the day.  Backed up hard drives, answered phone and email messages.

Friday, 8 Mar 2013

Assigned work to contracted workers to do over the weekend.  Meeting with BlueHost rep and moved files over from to BlueHost in order for the extensions to be changed and to provide better security.  Updated financial accounts, reconciled accounts, read online messages. Sent batches of work out.

Monday, 11 Mar 2013

Emptied out all the email, added items to TO DO list, invoiced clients for work, added information for projects into database.  Go-Daddy Design Team sent me link today that the site was ready for final checks.  After that only 30 minutes of updates can be done each month.  Went over fixes to be made to and links to GRAonline for sales and presentations.  Sent in instructions of what needs to be fixed.

Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013

Analysis of typed materials from Interns regarding state census records for New York families, matching and merging families where necessary in client’s PAF database. Marking documents to be filed. Trained new girl on how to enter materials and answered emails.

Wednesday, 13 Mar 2013

Entered several New England families from letters client received from a great aunt over thirty years ago into client Legacy program.  Located 1835 marriage for an Edmund to Sally in Brunswick, Virginia. Prepared client report on records located and matching them with Family Group Records prepared from the PAF database.  Put together packets of work for contracted researchers to perform.

Thursday, 14 Mar 2013

Researched North Carolina Testator’s index for all of client’s surnamed families to see if Edmund’s father could have died in Montgomery County, NC.  Analyzed the materials ordered from the library regarding Virginia counties and client’s surnamed families to determine if one could be Edmund’s father.

Friday, 15 Mar 2013

Interviewed Racquel to be a contracted data entry clerk.  Trained her where items are when she comes over, how to enter her time, and how to file client papers in the office. Cleaned office and put away papers. Printed checks for contracted workers. Wrote final report for clients from yesterday and sent them to Salt Lake City office via flash drive to be sent to clients.

Monday, 18 Mar 2013

Answered phone and e-mail messages from over the weekend.  Meeting with Josh to set up Microsoft Outlook to receive messages from and to send them to my Nook. Updating client report for Singleton to send to Salt Lake office.  Tami picked up filing, reports, etc to send them out.  Typing instructions on how to use keywords.

Tuesday, 19 Mar 2013

Legacy wrote to me asking if I would give five lectures on the cruise through the Panama Canal and asked for suggestions.  Went back and forth on suggested topics.  Found an 1870 census for two surnames of a client need to unravel the conflicting information at FamilySearch Family Tree and another family linked to the client’s family there.  Obtained copies of the 1880 and 1900 censuses for Phillip another spouse of Lucinda; found tombstones for Lucinda and Phillip; followed descendants to see where they are saying their parents were born to determine Scott’s birth place for the linking of children; researched marriage records in Missouri for other family members to see if it mentioned the names of his parents.  Transcribed all the documents, and prepared them to enter into client PAF database.

Wednesday, 20 Mar 2013

Prepared work for contracted people.  Researched DNA account for client and read through materials provided.  Web site has not all been loaded up to his account number and Family Tree DNA is adding considerable more training and explanation at their site as it was changing during the 3 hours I was working on it.  Wrote a note to come back and look at it again next week when it has finished.  It was probably being updated for RootTech that starts tomorrow.  Downloaded all the PowerPoint files I needed for my classes on Friday and Saturday and packed suitcase to leave.  Since snow is expected we won’t chance getting caught in traffic but will stay in Salt Lake.

Thursday, 21 Mar 2013

Wow.  RootsTech is much bigger this year than last.  It seems to double each year I come.  They are live streaming classes to several hundred locations around the United States as a test to see if it will work.  I was asked to be one of those who are streamed but it won’t happen until Saturday.  I wonder if I could lose 10 pounds by Saturday.  Impossible!  I always eat when I’m nervous and speaking in front of a 1,000 people can be unnerving.

The first day I saw Gerald Lindsay who used to live not far from us in Toro Park in California.  That was wonderful.  Then I met some students from Monterey Peninsula College who came to Utah for the conference. They said they had to be dragged out of the Family History Library, however.  They were having so much fun.  I will wrote more on what I learned after this weekend.

2 Responses to Professional Genealogists

  1. whaling says:

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

  2. Norm Pritchett says:

    A very fascinating and illuminating post, Ms. Clifford. I’ve known of you for some time (you helped set me off in the right direction when I began genealogy many moons ago) and I actually have been curious what you life is like. Thank you for sharing!

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