Best Practices – Visiting a Church for Information

Posted: March 7, 2011 in Best Practices, For Genealogists

In watching some of the ways people communicate in a church setting its surprises me that I didn’t add the following to the best practices grouping.

When visiting a church or church office for information for your family history or for a client even – here are the does & don’ts.


  1. Compliment the people about the church settings, environs, decor, etc.  A well regarded compliment is a great starter as well.
  2. Write down what information you want to find out directly before meeting the people.
  3. Inquire about the depth of the records maintained at the church or parish offices.
  4. Answer all questions posed to you by the office staff or clergy assisting you.


  1. Complain about the places lack of careful maintenance.  Chances are the place is over 100 years old and the people in it can not afford to help maintain.
  2. Waste the time of the office or clergy with arguing religious differences.  This is not a good time to do that and it could end up you will never get your questions answered.
  3. Ask silly stupid questions like “I need a baptismal certificate copy for my records”  Chances are the records are indexes not certificates.   Appropriate question would be – can this be copied somehow or can I have a moment to write down the information.
  4. Wear  beachwear, swimsuits, evening gown (at about 12 noon), flip flops, barefeet and worse – the decision behind wearing dentures or shoes.  Keep in mind they are not going to judge you for what you wear – though first impressions are very important.

Keep things brief and too the point, dress appropriately for a church setting, keep your personal opinions about things to yourself.  Also, if they are very helpful consider giving them a monetary gift on your way out.

Next week:  A Surprise!



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