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Professional genealogy is a business like many other businesses. People who are interested in discovering their family history may hire a certified genealogist to assist them in their search. The professional knows what type of information to look for and where to look. Prefessional genealogists charge a fee for their services, which varies due to the type of information requested and time involved in research. They almost always produce results, depending on the information available.

And, like in many professions, there are a few unscrupulous persons who make their living through genealogical deception and fraud. The most famous of these was Gustave Anjou, who assembled many a fake family tree for unsuspecting clients. It is unfortunate that his "work" has, over the years, been intertwined with credible research by those without knowledge of its fraudulent source. With the advent of the internet, these "fake families" may have been replicated in countless online lineages. A few fraudulent genealogy web sites have popped up on the internet, but have become known to most researchers as sites to avoid.

When hiring a professional genealogist, ask for references and insist on seeing proof of their certifications. When researching on your own, be skeptical of sources. Check them for yourself, or enlist the help of regional volunteers. The genealogy section at your local library is a great place to start. Also, consider joining your local genealogy society. Members of these organizations are eager to help those just starting out, especially in the area of research source verification. They may also be able to refer you to a local professional genealogist.

For further information on genealogy fraud and how to recognize and avoid it, please refer to these web sites:

America's First Families -- Fraudulent Lineages

Bogus Genealogies by George G. Morgan

Grafting Family Trees by Myra Vanderpool Gormley, C.G.

Practicing Safe Genealogy by Kimberly Powell, professional genealogist

An alert to genealogists regarding a site called


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