How to go about getting pro bono clients?

This week I took Michael’s advice and advertised for clients!  I created a poster (see link below) and sent it to five friends.

I explained:

  1. why I was doing this
  2. how much time I would give
  3. how many clients I would take
  4. that it was free and
  5. explained my areas of expertise

Two of the five were interested!  Both mentioned that they would gather some information from their parents and so I sent them an ancestral chart and a family group sheet to assist them in the collection of information but I also let them know that rarely does one have a lot of information to start (if they did they wouldn’t need me!).  What is interesting is that neither one is in my area of expertise (Ireland and trying to prove a Revolutionary soldier as a relative).  Of course, it was and will be necessary to manage their expectations because I may not, and probably won’t, answer their genealogical question.  I can just get them closer.  Not too many of us are luck enough to have a “Brooke Shields moment” where they unfurl the calligraphic 10 foot lineage back to the Sun King!

Link: ad for clients

Michael is right, I already feel like I know more than I did when I started with Mary’s.  (which I am gathering up to send to her)

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post: created a poster, send to friends and got two responses.  I would like another for a total of three so that might happen next week. Gathered Mary’s report together (narrative, lineage, exhibits, other documents and books for her.), signed up for the third quarter of the class and continue to maintain the class’s website.  (and, we have 10 folks so far that have signed up for the conference in August so we are on our way with that as well!)


Is it possible to show a little creativity with the Client Report?

Well, I hope so!  This is probably the only place you can digress from the BCG form because different clients ask for different things.

I completed the first solid draft of the lineage section of the Client Report and I am now onto the narrative.  This will be done similar to my books I have published but I have to figure out how to cite my sources in the document.  I work on a MAC which allows me lots of graphic license.  I am pretty pleased with the organization of it (focused on the Civil War; take it year by year; look at the hospitals/nursing development and then look at prison conditions.) I also have to write a cover letter explaining what I did, what needs yet to be done and any other observations.

For the class assignment, I will focus on the historical context more….nursing, hospital development, prisons…and less about Jens.  We do have an assignment due pretty soon, a Family Group Sheet and a pedigree chart with sources.  I have to clean up the sources a bit and then it is ready to print (just using the computer generated reports).

At some point in time I will post what I submit so you will see it.  I also hope, like Michael, to post the comments (even tho’ that will be tough….he is a great role model in that aspect).  I still have no timetable for submission and since I have not yet applied, the 1 year “clock” hasn’t started yet.

Finished reading the diary of Hannah Ropes.  Her work is chronicled in Civil War Nurse, a story of her activities at the Union General Hospital in Washington DC.  She died after catching typhoid in 1863 in the hospital.  She did a nice job of describing the situations in the hospital including the treatment (not good) of the nursing staff.  She also was infuriated with the head doctor and the Steward who stole supplies from the men who were trying to get well.  She went straight to the Secretary of War and got them removed!  My kind of woman!  She also supervised Louisa May Alcott who went on to write Hospital Sketches of her time in the same hospital.

Did you know that Walt Whitman was an “ambulance driver/nurse” in the Civil War?  He was in the field.  I am trying to see if he was in the field at the same time as Clara Barton.

What are you working on?

Happy Hunting!


What I have worked on since the last post:  the graphic narrative for the Client Report. got the organization to my liking and have a very preliminary draft layout.

What were some books that I bought?

I found in the process of educating myself about the process of application that I did not have enough good examples of reports required, particularly the lineage reports.  I also saw some consistent recommendations for books in the videos that I reviewed so I decided to go ahead and purchase some items for my library.  Today’s blog will be a short review of those books I bought or had in my library that have proven their worth.

Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian:  (ESM) I really like the approach she took with this and my citations follow this book very closely.  If there is a downfall, it is that there are not enough on-line citations for the variety of documents now found there.  She makes up for that with her Quicksheet

Quicksheet; Citing online Historical Resources:  (ESM) I really like this one also but I found that she shifted away from putting the name of the person of interest first (what I liked about Evidence!) and instead embedded the name further in the document.

Evidence Explained! (ESM) A big expensive book.  I use the previous two for my citations but I like the narrative in the beginning about proof, what constitutes proof and how to make those decisions.  I don’t know that I would buy this book now, but others find it invaluable.

The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual:  (BCG) After my first glance at the book, I thought about sending it back.  Subsequent to that, it’s become a “go-to” book and all I can say is “What was I thinking!?”  It has been a very good resource especially the examples of the reports. I found the narrative in the front repetitive of the FHL video by Tom Jones.

Professional Genealogy:  (ESM) I think I could have done without this one as well, since I have no intention of becoming a PG.  On the other hand it has some good examples, and ESM is always an easy writer to read…..and besides that my friend from many years ago, Birdie Monk Holsclaw, wrote one of the chapters.

The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy:  (Val Greenwood) Haven’t delved into this one much.  I think it may of been more use to me a few years ago….explaining the different land & probate transactions but then again…I may have gotten them wrong.

In summary, I would suggest that there are some minimal books you need to have in your library but what works for me might not work for you.  Check out your public library (I should be wearing a black arm band, our public library is closed this week due to budget cuts!) and see what they might have for you first or prevail upon a friend who has purchased the book to see if it would be of any interest to you.

I probably need to purchase some subscriptions but haven’t explored enough to know which ones.  Stay tuned!  I’ll let you know what I find out.

Happy Hunting!


What I worked on yesterday:  The lineage report.  I wrote about 1 page last night.  I find I have the sources but decided to re-review every source to glean out all the information for the report.  I am still working on the person of interest but have now covered her genealogy summary and her life story up to 1900.  It is slow going.

ESM is Elizabeth Shown Mills.