Irish Roots: The bad old days of commissioned research
I started doing commissioned genealogical research back in 1982, God help me, working first for the old Genealogical Office and later for Hibernian Research. Both were loose arrangements, to put it mildly; research was unsigned and secretarial staff provided a buffer between researchers and clients. And a buffer was essential.
In the majority of cases, clients would know only the county of origin of their ancestors, if they knew that much, and we employed much ingenuity in trying to narrow the focus of research: cross-referencing surnames in property taxes, hunting down unusual forenames, picking out younger family members in General Register Office records (in the basement of the Custom House at that time, and where you could feel free to light up).
But, inevitably, much of the research was unsuccessful. Hence the need for a buffer. And hence, too, written reports that had to be scrupulous to the point of pain, listing, describing and justifying every source consulted.
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