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Frequently Asked Questions

How much will it cost to do my whole genealogy? It is impossible to say. If your family resided in places where records were kept conscientiously and early, always wrote wills, was careful to state family relationships in deeds for land they passed down through the generations, was socially prominent and had a family history published by a thorough researcher, the genealogy may come together quickly. If, on the other hand, your family moved often, never bought land, worked for cash, never got in trouble with the law, didn't go to church, changed their name when they entered the country, and shunned their relatives, research becomes much more difficult. That is why we charge by the hour.

It is November 15. Can you do a genealogy for my mother by Christmas? We can get started on a genealogy for you, but this time frame is too short. Many vital records offices take six to eight weeks to respond to a request and over the holidays, mail really slows down. A thorough genealogy is built step-by-step, proving one generation before moving on to the next. We may have to wait for one certificate to arrive to get information from it before we can proceed to the next level.

Why should I hire you? Can't I do this myself? Of course you can do the genealogy yourself, but Janna and Daniela have expertise that enables them to quickly zero in on the best available sources. We run into novice genealogists all the time who jump to conclusions and waste valuable time and money following the wrong trail. Some professional guidance will help you compile a complete and correct genealogy you can share with pride.

I have limited financial resources. Will you do my genealogy for free? Sorry, we can't do that. Janna and Daniela makes their livings from genealogy. We cannot afford to give away our services. We have created a website with suggestions and ideas for people who want to do their own genealogy for the sheer pleasure of it or for people who don’t have the money to hire a professional. Read what we have posted and you will have a good basic education in genealogical research.

Why is it important to keep track of the children of your grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. (you aunts and uncles and their children, your cousins)? When you get further back in your ancestry, you may find that you cannot find information on the parents of your direct line ancestor (direct lines are those parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. that relate directly to you and are the ones on your pedigree chart). Being unable to proceed further with your research is sometimes referred to as “hitting a brick wall”. For example, if you cannot find information on your great-grandmother’s mother, you may have to contact living cousins that share the same great-grandparents as you. They may have the information you need such as a family bible, newspaper clippings, family stories, wedding certificate, etc. that can help you leap over the brick wall and continue your research back in time.

I've heard that Jewish genealogy is impossible to do. Is that so? It is a common myth that all records related to Jews were destroyed by infidels. One of the first things a community does when an enemy is approaching is to hide precious religious items or spirit them out of town. Even if the religious records do not survive, Jewish people appear in civil records along with Gentiles. They bought and sold property, wrote wills, and appeared in court as parties to lawsuits. The national government of an area may have kept vital statistics on all its citizens, regardless of religious persuasion. In cases where there was a State Church, that church was instructed to keep vital records on all residents. Janna has personally seen records for Jewish births, marriages and deaths recorded in a German Lutheran register, and in an Anglican parish book in England.

When I was in England I had the strongest sense of deja vu at Dunlap Castle. I'm sure I must be related to them. Can I start with the Dunlaps and trace them down to me? It is nearly impossible to start with a remote ancestor and work forward to yourself. Before proceeding, we suggest you look at our chart How Many Ancestors? If the number of ancestors you have swells so rapidly with only two parents per person, imagine how enormous the numbers would be if each ancestor had six or seven children in each generation.

I have a question about a topic that is not covered on your web site. Will you consider it? Of course, ask away! We'll be glad to consider any topic or question. If your problem is beyond our expertise, we'll suggest another researcher and refund your money.

To ask these or similar questions, click on Help Me!, fill out the form that comes up, and submit your questions.

In genealogy there are no guarantees. We may find that no records exist for the person, place, or event you are looking for. Just be assured that we will give your request full attention and if the record is out there, we will do our best to find it!