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A Day in the Life of a Genealogist

What is life as a genealogist like on a day-to-day basis? How much time do we split between book-based research and internet research? Do we get the chance to interact with other people throughout the day? One of our resident genealogists, Serena Williams, answers all of those questions and more in this blog post.


7:30 am: Reply to an email regarding the distinction between autosomal and Y-DNA testing (here’s a great Family Tree article on the topic).

7:45 am: Read through the rest of my email and register for too many interesting webinars, like one from an Association of Professional Genealogists special interest group (SIG) on publishing family letters.

8:30 am: Put in headphones and log onto Duolingo to practice my beginning phrases in Hungarian and plurals in German in preparation for a client trip coming up in June.

Image credit: Photo by Michael Mroczek on Unsplash

9:00 am: Read a section of a guidebook on Budapest that is due back to the library tomorrow.

9:30 am: Hop onto Google Earth to locate where in Småland, Sweden, the House of Emigrants museum is located, and whether it is within walking distance of a few other points of interest like the Smålands Museum that has a Viking-era sword so I can create a tour itinerary for a client. (The sword is not part of this family’s history, but it’s still pretty cool!)

10:00 am: Polish outlines and submit two proposals to speak at a genealogy conference; one about using 19th century narrative histories, and another about linguistics for genealogists.

11:00 am: Check the hours of a local history center in a town where I’ll be presenting at a linguistics conference, in order to maximize the geographical advantage.

11:15 am: Create a work plan proposing a revised research question for a new client who is interested in knowing the provenance of her surname. Then, I send out the work plan and contract too.


1:00 pm: Eat lunch while reading the Hawley Society newsletter and the California Nugget (CGS).

2:00 pm: See what my genealogist friends have been saying on Twitter. Like, tweet, retweet, and repeat.

Image credit: Photo by Con Karampelas on Unsplash

2:30 pm: Go hunting for the enumeration district for a particular address in Pittsburgh of the 1910 census (I recommend this site put together by Stephen Morse and Joel Weintraub).

3:00 pm: Start listing the facts of a client’s ancestor in chronological order to work out a puzzle about a 20-year gap in his life (Check out Elizabeth Shown Mills' Professional Genealogy for a great chapter on this strategy).

4:00 pm: Look up how to cite a ship image so I can send out the draft of an ancestor profile to my designer for layout (I recommend Mills' Evidence Explained).

4:30 pm: Get the mail. Get excited that a death certificate from Montana has finally arrived. Study the death certificate that I ordered only to realize that the deceased could not be the same person I am researching, and I should have known that before ordering the copy. (Often the physical printout of a source document communicates information in a different way from digital source information).

Image Credit: Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash


5:00 pm: Promise myself that I’ll get to working on my own family tree after dinner, which I won't do, because I'll fall asleep before I even try.

Whether you're considering working with us at Chronos Heritage to further your own genealogical research, or you just wanted to know more about genealogy in general, we hope you learned something interesting from this blog post. Feel free to tweet at us about your daily genealogical adventures! We're always looking for new tips and tricks to add to our own schedules.

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