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Q&A: How good are professional genealogists?

Question by mmm: How good are professional genealogists?
I am very interested in family history and wanted to look up my paternal ancestors. My grandmother is from Hungary and my grandfather is from Lithuania. I have found it very hard to find anyone older than there via online databases. Can professional genealogists usually trace back pretty far?

Best answer:

Answer by GenevievesMom
Yes we can, but you will pay dearly for records from Lithuania. Before you go that route, try some basic inexpensive resources in your area. If they’re Catholic, order the films for the parishes in their towns from the LDS. If they’re Jewish, join in one of the Eastern European Jewish GenWeb sites.

Lithuania flip-flopped between Poland and Russia for centuries. There are several places that the records can be. If you know the names of the towns where your ancestors were born and their religion(s), email me and I’ll help you find what’s out there. It’s not all going to be on the internet, but I also won’t charge you for help off the boards. General research rates for Lithuania are between $ 200-500/hour, depending on how much travel is involved. You have to realize that hiring someone to go to the archives for you and pull the records for you also means they have to translate and send you certified copies. If you do it yourself, there may be some postage costs, but you can get the records you want for much less than $ 5000.

Hungary’s not usually terrible. Most were Catholic so you track them through civil records until they run out, then search through Church records back to 1400 when the Church of Rome started mandating that their priests keep sacramental registers. You won’t go back before 1850 on the internet in either country, but you can do it with old-fashioned library and archival resources, the LDS and snail-mail.

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