Putting a price on family curiosity

I was so excited yesterday when I received an e-mail message from a professional researcher who had found my grandfather’s birth record and my great-grandparents’ marriage record.

I never expected these records to be found. I e-mailed the researcher on a whim that she would answer my message and find something. My attempts to find anything in the regional archives office have been unsuccessful. When I sent my first e-mail message to archives, I provided the wrong birth village for my grandfather. Most recently, I discovered the correct birth village on a residency record dated from the 1940s and a letter my grandfather wrote to my father. I have tried unsuccessfully to get archives to answer my last two e-mail messages about searching for my grandfather’s birth record in the correct village. Also, I e-mailed twice another researcher, who never answered my messages.

My excitement for information on my Ivanov ancestry and scans of family church records went down the toilet today. The researcher who found the two family records wanted 200 Euros for the record scans and a preliminary study of archives’ records (whatever that means) to determine what can be studied on my great-grandparents’ families.

I was so excited originally because the researcher found the family records within 48 hours after I sent my first e-mail message. The researcher found six villages with the same name in the county where my grandfather was born in 1885. That’s why anyone doing Russian genealogy in villages needs to know the region, county, parish area and village to find family records. The researcher told me the exact place where my grandfather was born, the church where my grandfather was baptised and his parents were married and the year my great-grandparents got married without mentioning a fee. I was thrilled when I found pictures of the family church online.

I asked whether more information could be found and the researcher told me the village where my great-grandmother was born. Now, I am hooked on knowing how much I can really learn about my Ivanov ancestry. But I wonder about the price tag involved. I stupidly ignored the prices on the researcher’s website, thinking a few record scans and some poking around in archives would not cost too much.

Well, the most expensive service costs between 2,000 to 20,000 Euros ($2,615 to $26,150 US Dollars). For $26,150, I want a day-long séance with all of my Ivanov ancestors where I can hear their voices and they will answer all of my questions. Of course, this $26,150 package must include a Russian translator, scans of every church, census, property and military record available, typed translation of the records, a map detailing where all my ancestors lived in the villages, photos of all the standing family churches and grave stones, an English-written family tree with every relative born in the villages and addresses of  living cousins I can contact.

I am so morally disgusted that someone thinks they deserve $26,000 for genealogy research. By the way, that amount equals to a little more than 1 million rubles. The ruble may be worthless against the American dollar but 1 million rubles will cover five months of rent for a high-end apartment in pricey Moscow.

So far, I only paid the researcher 100 Euros ($131 U.S. dollars). I sent an e-mail message saying how grateful I am for the information she provided and that I fear her final bill will get so high that I will not have enough money to pay her. She reduced her fee from 200 Euros. After she is done with her “preliminary study” of available archival records, she will give me an estimated cost for studying my ancestry. I really am not looking forward to this e-mail message.

All I want now is to know my great-grandmother’s maiden name so I can find relatives for free on the Internet. The journey of discovering Russian ancestry is a windy road with a lot of pot holes.


2 thoughts on “Putting a price on family curiosity

  1. kateryna liddle

    This information has been really useful as I am trying to trace my routes too , it is amazing what people will charge you! The internet is fine for me and I won’t be hiring anyone to do this for me however i am really glad that I read your article as I would not have known any of this.

    Good luck I hope you find what you are looking for!


    1. Hi Kateryna,

      This woman charges far more than my researcher for my mother’s ancestry. The money I have spent on my mother’s lines has been well worth it. We’ll see what the new researcher wants for researching my father’s line. It is a shame that not all Russian and Ukraine archives will not search randomly records for customers. Many search records for nothing but will not search without exact dates and names. I wish you luck on your search. E-mail me if you need any help.



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