Some of those people you rub elbows with at the archives don't belong to the noble race of family historians. They're tracking down the missing heirs to estates worth thousands. Julia at Wie Immer has the skinny on these folks, having recently joined their ranks as a researcher.
I have a new job. I am a detective. I work as a researcher and solve mysteries by digging through really nice civil records centers. I will spend many many days flipping through huge gigantically enormous tomes of endless lists of names, alongside other older people who also spend countless hours looking through huge tomes of names. We even have a dance: pull, flop, sift, scan, slam, reshelve. If you showed up there with some Offenbach turned up full blast on your iPod, it would look like we're doing a synchronized dance: pull ... flop ... sift ... scan ... slam ... reshelve. Again. Pull ... flop ... sift ... scan ... slam ... reshelve. Pull ... flop ... sift ... scan ... slam ... reshelve. Again. [Link]