Sometimes all the genealogist really needs is a lookup. Sometimes they need more extended research. Which really depends upon the situation.
One lookup example stems from the newspaper article I located from 1892 in Quincy, Illinois. It references a court case regarding estate of my ancestor, Ulfert Behrens.
Years ago, when I was much younger, I located his estate file which included a copy of his will. I did not do land or court record work at that time. While I am always interested in land records, I don’t need them right now and the family relationships have been fairly well documented with other records. However, this court case intrigued me. But do I need to hire someone for extensive work to research this? Probably not. All I really need in this case is information from the file.
However, I do need someone with research experience–even though they are doing a “lookup.” Why?
- So they know how to search for this record. The newspaper doesn’t have any citation information.
- So they know how to extract. There might only be a few papers in this file or there could easily be hundreds. In some cases, many of the pages may be repetitive or contain entirely legal jargon. I might not want to go to the expense of getting a copy of the “entire file.”
- They need to have experience searching this type of record and know what various items in the file mean and interpret them correctly.
In this case, I probably don’t need a formal research report since one document is being researched. However, I do need to know what records were searched, how they were searched, and what the citation is for the records that were located.
A lookup might not be as simple as a lookup.