How it works

How it works

Most projects are priced at $45/hour. Brick Wall and Family Secret packages are $55/hour and focus on a specific person or narrow topic. Additional blocks of time for any project are $45/ hour to continue research. Plus expenses.

The number of hours depends on what you want done, so I offer a free initial consultation (by phone, zoom or in person) to discuss your project goal and scope: Who do you want to know about? What do you want to learn? What do you already know and where have you researched? How far back do you want to go? How deep do you want me to go? Then we can settle on a preliminary block of time that allows for adequate research and fits your budget, with the option of adding more time depending on progress and the discovery of exciting or promising leads you want to pursue.

All projects include digital copies of all findings, trees, charts, documents, photos, etc. created or found, along with a final report summarizing my findings and recommending further research.

A typical project: 

Free Initial Consultation (30 minutes)

  • Discuss Project Goal and Scope
  • Determine Initial Budget
  • Request Prior Research: trees, documents, DNA tests, notes, photos, etc.

Once Prior Research Form, materials and Retainer for initial block of time are received, all time spent from here on counts against Retainer:

Phase One – Initial Review and Project Planning

  • Organize materials (digital and/or hardcopy) provided by client. Time needed will depend on volume of materials submitted.
  • Scan relevant hardcopies of prior research supplied by client for attachment to tree and inclusion in reports.
  • Communicate additional questions to client.
  • Formulate research plan and estimate time / resources.
  • Amend Project Scope if expenses or more time are anticipated.

Phase Two – Research and Analysis

  • I build all trees in Family Tree Maker software on my computer and import/attach all found/scanned records so that everything is in one place. I also upload the tree to Ancestry.com (set as Private) to tap into their huge repository. If you already have an online tree, I may download it to my system as a starting point.
  • Progress Report: After some general online research, I will report my initial findings so we can reassess research direction and scope.
  • Continue research to fill in gaps, answer questions and verify by scouring online newspapers, cemetery records, other online trees, etc., analyze DNA matches for more clues and connections.
  • Identify and pursue other resources to investigate in the future.

Once the Project Goal has been achieved to the client’s satisfaction or to the limits of the budget or available data:

Phase Three – Wrap Up

I reserve part of the retainer to:

  • Review and clean up data.
  • Generate charts, timelines and genealogical reports.
  • Write final report of findings, including negative findings, and recommendations for future research.
  • Package findings and export tree as GEDCOM for delivery to client. Findings will be provided in digital form unless print outs are requested (extra charge).
  • If you’d like to continue on your own, I can teach you how to work with the tree I created, access archives, online newspapers and other holdings, and give you a list of next steps for you to do.

Final report and package of findings will be provided to client upon receipt of payment in full.


Research Retainer: Hourly Fees are payable in advance in blocks. “Research” time is logged by the minute and includes all communications and interviews with client after initial consultation, scanning, data review, chart generation, travel, and other time-related activities. Unused retainer will be refunded upon project completion.

Reimbursable Expenses: Reimbursable Expenses are billed at cost, and include, but are not limited to: print outs, photocopies, parking, computer charges, microfilm rental, postage and handling, repository entrance fees, travel and lodging, DNA tests, onsite research, remote researcher fees, etc.

Guarantees and Privacy Policy

No guarantees are made regarding what information, if any, may or can be found. Conclusions are based on the weight of available evidence and that absolute proof of genealogical relationships is usually not possible. Negative findings and unsuccessful searches are charged.

Please be aware that many records have been lost or may not be accurate. While it is true that there are millions of records available online, and new records are being found or digitized every day, there are many millions more that are not. Recent records are often sealed by privacy laws.

All work will be performed in accordance with prevailing professional standards in genealogy, including the Code of Ethics adopted by the Association of Professional Genealogists (Code of Ethics and Professional Practices (apgen.org).

Any information, DNA results, documents, etc. you provide to me that is not already a matter of public record or public knowledge will remain confidential. All trees and documents uploaded to Ancestry.com will be set as private unless you authorize them to be made public. No DNA test results will be uploaded to or made public in any online database without your consent.

I may uncover information that challenges established beliefs about yourself, your family, your heritage and your biological or legal relationships. I will provide as much proof as I can to support my conclusions and will keep any personal, damaging, hurtful, or disparaging discoveries confidential if you so wish. However, be aware that the sources for this information are likely already public, and if I can find it, so can someone else.