Friday, March 4, 2011

Genealogy Research Options after Ancestry ExpertConnect showed its power 24 January by announcing the closure of its popular online marketplace for genealogy research, ExpertConnect. No explanation was offered; the shutdown will be complete on 18 March.

In the six weeks since, everybody has been scrambling, especially those seeking professional genealogy help. I hope to write elsewhere about the professional angle, but here's the landscape for genealogists who are looking for research help or who think they might be in the future, with the readily accessible Ancestry ExpertConnect marketplace gone.

By far the biggest list of professional researchers and their qualifications is at the Association of Professional Genealogists. Currently, however, the site offers no place for people seeking help to post their needs and invite bidders. The same can be said on the local and regional level, where many state organizations maintain lists of researchers (such as Ohio and Indiana), as do many repositories (such as the Newberry Library and the National Archives).

But the marketplace idea is not dead, and Ancestry ExpertConnect showed that it can work if a sufficient number of buyers and sellers can be brought together. A number of smaller sites, some in existence prior to Ancestry ExpertConnect and some new, do list professionals and offer seekers the ability to post their wants and needs and receive bids on them:

Genealogy Freelancers

Genlighten (lookups only at this point)




Directory of Genealogists

I won't go all Consumer Reports on you and try to describe or rank the above; the web sites will tell you a lot. Obviously each of them (and some even newer counterparts in the UK) faces the same challenge in making a market as APG does -- trying to generate even a significant fraction of the traffic that naturally passed ExpertConnect's doors at Ancestry.

(Full disclosure: I am a professional, and an APG member and board member; I was on ExpertConnect for more than a year, and I am signed up on most of the above sites as well.)

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