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Genealogical Researchers


Some genealogical research specialties have a long history, while others are relatively new. Probate records (which detail how an individual’s estate was distributed to heirs, dependents, and creditors) have been kept since the early days of the United States, so there have been heir searchers for hundreds of years. Other genealogical research specialties are newer. Efforts to use genealogy to identify the remains of missing soldiers expanded after World War II, but were accelerated in the later years of the Vietnam War in the 1970s. The work of citizenship reclamation specialists has existed in some form for many years, but demand for these professionals increased after World War II. The discovery of the technique of genetic fingerprinting by the British geneticist Alec Jeffreys in 1984 has provided a new tool to these specialists and general genealogists. These “DNA fingerprint tests” are now used to establish paternity, help identify heirs, provide evidence in citizenship reclamation claims, link families to the remains of soldiers declared missing in action, and help people to learn more about their heritage. The use of DNA has also created the new career of forensic genealogist, who use DNA to solve cold criminal cases.