Friday, September 21, 2012

Hiring a Professional Genealogist: Looking for Tips

Have you ever hired a professional genealogist? I have a family mystery, based in New York City, which I have been unable to solve. How do I find a reliable researcher? How much should this cost? I am looking for tips.

Michael Coyle
I am trying to discover what happened to:

Michael Coyle b. 24 Nov 1870 in Moate, Cavan, Ireland
  • Oldest child of Patrick & Margaret (Brady) Coyle
  • Came to USA May 1885
  • Married 9 Nov 1895 in NYC to Mary Josephine Mullane 
  • Father of 7 children, all born in New York City
  • In 1920 & 1925 living at 223 East 113 St & working as a baker in New York City

Unfortunately Michael’s bakery had hard times and closed. He left his family. Mary Jo died 17 December 1927. Her will shows his location as unknown. He had family in Connecticut & Texas. His youngest daughter saw him a couple years later. He was looking for his wife and she told him her mother had died. His daughters never saw him again.

More details on Michael at my website, Our Leaves & Branches.

I’d like to have an ending for this story. What happened to my great grandfather? Where is he buried? I mentioned to one of my brothers that I might hire a professional to help answer our questions. He said, ‘Where would a professional look that you haven’t already looked?’ I replied, ‘If I knew that I would not need to hire a professional.’


  1. Check with a local historical society to see if they have a list of genealogists. I think hourly rates can vary quite a bit. They key thing is giving them a budget they can't exceed. You'll need to provide them the info you have found and where found along with places you've looked but haven't found anything. Also, prioritize the specific info you're hoping for (death certificate, etc).

    1. As far as a local historian, I assume I would be looking for a New York City historian, where Michael lived. Thanks for the tips.

  2. I have had incredible luck with free searchers. There is a NY Irish group I belong to - I have posed a few questions like this, and half a dozen people have come forward with help. From answering my actual question to actually providing me with an article or document.

    I have also hired people in NY and in Ireland who have given my "stalls" jumpstarts. It's not cheap - most charge by the hour and my the document. The more obscure your quest, the longer it may take.

    I have also had one in Ireland who charged my the family name. A set price for anyone associated with the name. I came home with 20- 30 documents.

    Try the NY Irish mail list and see if anyone can help. Below is copied from the site:

    Subscribing. Clicking on one of the shortcut links below should work, but if your browser doesn't understand them, try these manual instructions: to join NY-IRISH-L, send mail to with the single word subscribe in the message subject and body. To join NY-IRISH-D, do the same thing with

    Subscribe to NY-IRISH-L
    Subscribe to NY-IRISH-D (digest)


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