Frequently Asked Questions

We are eager to help you with discover your past. If you have questions about our services, please review our FAQs so that you may have a better understanding of how we can serve you.

How do I get started?

Contact me with your research question, along with any information you may have already gathered about your family or house history. I will review the information and create a research proposal for your perusal.

How much will it cost and how long will it take?

You will be charged for the actual time spent, plus out-of-pocket costs such as photocopies, postage, document retrieval, and pay-per-view websites, which are billed at cost. Travel time is billed at the regular hourly rate.

Client projects are usually divided into phases of ten to twenty hours. When we agree on the goals of the research, you authorize the number of hours for the first research phase, at which point I will schedule your project.

Because of the nature of most genealogical research, an exact or fixed budget is difficult to calculate. Records may or may not contain the information we are looking for. Resources may or may not exist. Lack of indexes, record legibility, format, and conditions of access, can also influence the amount of time needed to access certain records. In addition, complex research problems require more time for analysis and — when necessary — conflict resolution.

What can I expect?

At the end of each research phase, you will receive a report with an explanation of the findings as well as scans and abstracts of any original records consulted during the investigation. Printed narratives, pedigree charts, and online family trees can be created upon request.

I can make no guarantees regarding what information, if any, may be found, although I will make every reasonable effort to find the desired information.

What about my privacy?

I keep confidential any information you provide that is not already a matter of public record or public knowledge. I treat with discretion, even if they are already matter of public record, issues that concern living persons, their parents, or immediate families. If you become a client, your name, postal address, and email address will be required to send the invoices.

Why should I hire a professional Genealogist or Historian?

There are many reasons why you might want to hire a professional.

  • You are looking for a unique gift, such as a personalized, professionally researched house history for a new home owner, a personalized family tree for a wedding anniversary, or a pedigree chart for a favorite relative.
  • You need someone to organize your family documents and photographs.
  • You have a family mystery that needs solving.
  • You need research on a historical project for an academic project.
  • You don’t know where to start.
  • You don’t speak the language or can’t read the old script.
  • You don’t live near the repository.
  • You prefer to do your own research, but you have hit a brick wall in your research.
  • You want to save time.

Can’t I just go online and find my family tree?

Yes and No. It is true that the plethora of digitized records available online and the popularity of DNA testing has fueled an unprecedented interest in one’s own ancestors. Sites like Ancestry and MyHeritage have made it incredibly easy to research one’s family origins. “Shaky leaves” and “Smart Matches” present new hints for review on an almost daily basis. It takes but a few clicks — and perhaps a few sleepless nights — to quickly grow the roots and branches on the virtual family tree.

Online investigations from the comfort on your own home are an easy and a great way to start, but they cannot always replace thorough research:

  • That explores both the online records, as well as those still buried in brick-and-mortar repositories;
  • That knows how to access the thousands of online records that have yet to be indexed;
  • That analyzes each piece of information with a critical eye, correlates evidence, and resolves conflicts;
  • By someone who is familiar with the sources and the repositories in which they are the held, the script and language in which they were written, and the legal, cultural, and political timeframe in which they were created.

Will I receive regular updates?

Communication is key to every successful project. All questions are answered promptly, and you will receive regular updates, either via email, or through the form of formal report.

What are your credentials?

I studied history at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), and obtained both a Master of Arts in History and a Master’s in Library Science degree from Kent State University in Ohio. For more than twenty years I worked in the library world, both in Chicago and Baltimore.

I have a Certificate in Genealogy of Boston University, and have studied at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, and the National Institute on Genealogical Research. I am currently a participant in ProGen 36, an 18-month intensive study of the book Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

I am a member of several genealogical and historical societies, including the National Genealogical Society, the Association of Professional Genealogists, Familliekunde Vlaanderen [Family History Flanders], Géniwal [Genealogical Information Wallonia], the Nederlandse Genealogische Vereniging [Dutch Genealogical Society], LuxRoots [Genealogy Center of Luxembourg], the Genealogical Society of Flemish Americans, and The Belgian Researchers.

I am fluent in English, Dutch (native) and French. Other language skills include German, Spanish, Italian and Latin