Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fun Emergency Projects

I have this rule that I don’t do emergency projects for clients. First of all one would have to wonder, what is an “emergency project”. Well, it’s the one that you have less than two weeks to do, the deadline is immoveable, and the job was not scheduled or expected so it has to be fitted in the work schedule.

So what am I doing right now? An emergency project. I have been 99% successful in saying “I’m sorry, but I would be unable to assist you on this project.” But what do you do, if the project is for one of your best clients and he has a business trip in 10 days in the area of his GGGGrandparents. Let me add, he is traveling from California to Missouri. For me, the answer was easy – you assist the client and plan on sleeping very little for the next 8 days (the package should be in the overnight and to arrive on day 9).

I pulled the needed file from my archival system immediately and reviewed my final report before I even answered the request. I sketched out a plan of how to attack his specific requests of land locations and living direct lineage or distant cousins in three remote counties of Missouri. Yep…I can do this in 20 hours (all I could possibly give up in 8 days) and have the package prepared for him.

I am half way through with the project now - Day 4. I will finish up county two today, and start with county three. I have already sent him what I considered to be time sensitive data and have actually given him a page and a half of a preview of what to expect based on a few questions he has sent me for his preparation. His excitement vibrated through his email response. He actually called me “heaven”.

No, I’m not a travel agent, but 27 phone calls later, I have found him local hotels, places he must see with directions, and very needed host/hostess names for the area. This is a remote area with directions given as “the oiled road south of town”. No name, just that it goes between the church and the cemetery and over the hill. It took me a few questions to figure out that the “oiled road” was a blacktopped one. Opposed to what?

This is the interesting part. As a genealogist, I would not normally call half a town to see if they knew of my subject. Time is limited so I normally spend it on county courthouses, city halls, libraries, genealogy societies, etc. I don’t normally spend client hours talking to a farmer on Rt. 1 who starts a chain of telephone numbers and names accompanied by failing health anecdotes and recent family deaths worthy of a town directory and a gossip column. No…I don’t usually start any project like this. But, it is a great way to get social history and a feel for a location if your client is off to the wilderness. And, I have gathered gads of additional genealogical tidbits of his family by doing so, including finding a local genealogist, who happens to be a distant cousin, and has a database of over 27000 relatives. We were easily able to pinpoint that they were 6 cousins, once removed. Now this is the contact your client really needs. And I will probably lose his business to this distant cousin, but isn’t that what we all want – an exhausted history of our family?

Hope you are saying yes to the possible, and breaking a few of your own rules for a little genealogy fun!

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