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A genealogist carries out research into the genealogical background of individuals or families in order to establish descent from specific ancestors or to discover and identify forebears of an individual or family.

When a genealogist receives an enquiry from a client, background details are obtained. They consult national and foreign genealogical tables, publications and documents in order to trace lines of descent and succession. Their sources of information include libraries, church and court records or public record offices, from where they obtain evidence of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and legacies. These records are careffully studied and information of interest to the client is extracted. A genealogist is often employed to trace family trees, but is also involved in legal and medical work.

After retrieving all the necessary information, genealogists construct a chart showing lines of descent and family relationships. They prepare the history of the family or individual, and also provide feedback in narrative form or by writing brief sketches or notes emphasising aspects of particular interest to those concerned.

Genealogists increasingly use software packages to speed up the search, and the Internet to search sites throughout the world.

Genealogists work in offices, libraries and museums. Some travel throughout South Africa and to other countries or cities to visit clients, some of which may be in remote areas. They may also need to attend conferences and meetings locally or overseas.

Satisfying Aspects
- relating the past to the present
- variety of work
- opportunity to travel to sites of historical interest
- working with a variety of interesting new people

Demanding aspects
- time taken and extent of education required to advance in this field, and to establish a reputation
- limited job opportunities
- the frustration sometimes involved in conducting research
- having to search for obscure details

- have an inquiring mind and patience
- have the ability to investigate
- able to pay attention to detail
- able to organise and sort a large amount of information
- good verbal and written communication ability
- able to work on your own

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Goegraphy, History, Languages

Degree : BA at most universities, with subjects such as Sociology, History and Languages.

- legal firms
- educational institutions
- libraries, museums and historical societies
- publlishing firms
- research organisations
- government agencies and departments
- archives
- private clients
- self-employed or freelance work

National Archives of SA
Private Bag X236
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 441-3200 Fax: (012) 323-5287

SA Museum Association (SAMA)
P O Box 12413
Centrahil, 6006
Tel: (041) 582-2634 Fax: 086 5099783