Customer Service and FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions  
Why are common surnames more time consuming and difficult?
Stated simply, it is because there are too many people with the same name. There are over 200 common surnames that are particularly difficult. This is because even with very specific information there will still be many, many records to sift through in order to positively identify your ancestor. For instance, there were over 5,580 John Smiths in the 1790-1880 census records of New York. In order for us to sufficiently set your expecations with common surnames, it is important that we be clear that these are extraordinarily time consuming searches and it may take us 10, 20 or 40 hours or more to find another generation of ancestors who have a common surname.
How long until my research is completed?
In-depth research sessions are generally completed in 4-6 months. If it looks like research results will take longer than that, we will let you know. 
Can I get my research sent to me faster than your usual timetable?
Yes, we do offer a RUSH research service. Because we slip this work in after hours and on weekends, in order to meet your research deadlines, the hourly fee for our time is increased by $15 per hour. See a table of our current hourly research fees.
Why do the research projects take weeks to finish?
We are a select group of experienced genealogists and we are the ones responsible for conducting the actual research on projects for you.  Your research is placed on our docket as soon as the retainer is received and we address research projects in the order they were received.  We constantly balance a fine line between speed of output and quality of output and always err toward the latter because we have found that most of our clients prefer to wait and have an experienced genealogist complete their research.  We realize that your deposit is an investment.  In specifying a broad range of completion time, we are allowed time to gather any and all correspondence that will be necessary in order to most effectively address your research goals.  
What is the status of my research project?
We realize how exciting genealogy research can be for a family when they are awaiting new discoveries about their ancestry.  We strive hard to finish work in the time table we've mentioned above.  We take great joy in telling you of super new finds and we understand the importance of telling you immediately if there are problems with the progress of the research.  However, reporting each week's findings is not a cost effective strategy for your research investment.  Email requests for periodic updates will be happily returned, but the time spent reporting these findings via e-mail will be deducted from the research deposit and will thus reduce the amount of funds we have left to actually conduct original records research for you.
What is the shipping and handling expense for?
Shipping and handling charges include the cost of the envelope, the postage and the time that it takes to package and place the research in the mail at the post office.
How is my order sent to me?
All orders are sent via U.S. Postal Service mail.  Records searches are sent first class mail and projects are sent priority mail.  Detailed fees information, including postage fees can be found on our fees page.
Do you use online sources and databases, like Ancestry.com for my research?
Yes, of course, we use Ancestry.com and other online sources to do research for clients. In fact, we would be foolish *not* to use them. I'm absolutely sure we'd have clients yelling at us for *not* using them, if we restricted our searches to only books and microfilm. With many online sources and databases, it takes us only about 10 to 15 minutes (maybe longer if the search is difficult or the family's name is misspelled) to search key sources that would otherwise take hours to search in books or microfilm. Take, for instance, the 1900 census for the U.S. With Ancestry.com, it takes only a few minutes to search the *entire* U.S. Additionally, with Ancestry.com every person is indexed. Now contrast this to searching the microfilm version of the 1900 census - the 1900 census is indexed on 7,846 microfilm reels (yes, that is 7 thousand!!) and then the index only indexes the heads of household, and not every person. Gosh, it often used to take genealogists several hours and sometimes several days to search the 1900 census using microfilm - especially if the name was common like "John Smith" So, this is why professional genealogists use online sources and databases. Because clients pay us by the hour, most clients would be quite unhappy if we did not use the most efficient means to get to the necessary records. Also, Ancestry.com and Genealogy.com and other data sites on the Internet have indexes to sources that are NOT found in archives.
If the sources are on the Internet, then why hire a professional genealogist?
First of all, all the sources are NOT on the Internet. In fact, only a mere fraction of the world's genealogical records sources are on the Internet. There are some great sources online, but certainly not all sources. And, yes, it is true that many of our clients can go and download all data and images from the Internet that they want. But, eventually, most of our clients realized that they still needed help ... that having ready access to records wasn't immediately helpful to them. They were still "stuck." When clients hire a professional genealogist, they're hiring an individual who knows the best, the fastest, and the most economical way to get to the answers that a client seeks - no matter where those records and sources might be. In *addition* and probably most importantly, clients are hiring a professional genealogist because they need someone to help them analyze the material, pull clues from it, draw conclusions from the clues, and then figure out the appropriate steps to take next. Since most genealogical sources are public records, nearly all clients or potential clients have ready access to records. Anything that a professional genealogist has retrieved for a client is probably something that with time, money, and often considerable effort, a client could have obtained for himself or herself. But, as many clients have learned after years of trying to do the research themselves, access to genealogical records is not the determining factor to successfully solving a research problem. Access is important, yes, but knowing what to do with those records, and what they mean, is the most important skill. Skilled professional genealogists often have decades of full-time research experience in their research specialty. They are going to go about your research in the most logical, fastest, and economical way possible and while doing that, they will be continually analyzing all the important clues in the records with an eye toward meeting your research goal.
Can you help me find my mother, father, sister or brother?
We can conceive of how important and how very much you might be interested in locating a living family member.  Unfortunately, most genealogists do not have access to the contemporary records needed to assist you. Post 1940 records are not readily available to us.  Privacy laws restrict our access to many other modern records. So, for this reason, I would like to suggest that you consider hiring a licensed private investigator, whose skills and access to contemporary records better match your research needs. If they cannot help you directly, I know that they will offer you suggestions.

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First and foremost, I want to thank you for the research you completed at Christmas. My mother was very surprised and pleased!…(more)





 

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