Do You Use Ancestry.com?
The popular genealogy website isn’t paying me to write this article, scout’s honor. So tell me honestly. I’m curious as to whether or not you use ancestry.com, and if so, why?
I ask because I’ve gotten sucked into the power of online genealogy tracing while doing research for my new books starring Michael Flint the Heir Hunter. It’s amazing how many family ties a computer can help you trace just by entering a few pieces of information — and the deeper you dig, the more likely you are to find that you are heir to some money or land! For me, that’s just a bonus. But for Michael Flint Heir Hunter, that’s his career.
While we might research our ancestry as a hobby, did you know that genealogy is so extensive, you can make a career out of it? So maybe you’re wondering — what does it take to become a professional forensic genealogist?
Anyone who is working to get certified or accredited as a forensic genealogist will take classes, many of which are offered online from organizations and universities, including Boston University.
While an amateur heir hunter might rely on a website to pull up documents that help make the links from family member to family member, a forensic genealogist in training will learn about topics like how to search public records, verify them, and write reports on them. The training process involves treating a case like a mystery and solving it conclusively from beginning to end.
An Heir Hunter might also learn forensic techniques. Like how to use DNA tools to track down an inheritance, and how to interview informants.
The whole process of researching by contacting living people can be tricker than it sounds. There are ethical and legal considerations, and it can be dangerous. Living subjects can be confused, suspicious, angry, and might act out. As we’ll see in the Michael Flint books, an Heir Hunter is trained to deal with these kinds of situations.
The training process wouldn’t be complete without lessons in the business side of things, like how to build up a client base.
A real life heir hunter is a forensic genealogist, someone who researches ancestry by means of standard records and more, for profit. It was the “and more, for profit” piece that I’ve used to create the Michael Flint novels. The “and more, for profit” opens all sorts of story possibilities, doesn’t it? My writer’s mind went to work, furiously plotting.
So there’s a precursory look for you at how Michael Flint’s work is much more involved than anything we might do on www.ancestry.com. Stay tuned for more news about his adventures as we get closer to the book release date!