Genealogical Research Services

I help you find Chicago ancestors.

Chicago genealogical research is not only my specialty, it's my passion.

There are three ways I can assist you with your research:

  1. Referrals: I only take projects that are well-suited to my skills; if I think there are others who are better suited to meet your research needs, I will gladly refer you. For example, if you need divorce, naturalization, probate records from the Circuit Court Archives, I recommend contacting Ellen and Elizabeth (Ancestry Sisters), Kim Stankiewicz (Chicago Ancestry); or Steven Wright (Your Chicago Ancestors)--all experienced Chicago researchers who are able to visit local repositories for on-site research.

    If you need help with a complex research question involving NA evidence, I recommend contacting Karen Stanbary (Karen Stanbary Genealogy). There are many capable genealogists who specialize in Chicago research and I want to help you connect with the right person for your project. Feel free to ask for suggestions.

    And, if you need help with Illinois adoption research, I recommend contacting Juli Claussen (Juli Claussen Search and Genealogy Services). She is able to search a unique database and if a match is found, she can immediately provide a copy of the "petition to adopt." She charges a modest fee for a successful search; no charge if she doesn't find a match.

  2. Research Guidance: If you're comfortable with genealogical research but new to Chicago records and repositories, I can often suggest ways you can address your research question without hiring a genealogist. Feel free to contact me for ideas. I don't charge for taht kind of quick help.

  3. Research Assistance: I no longer live in the Chicago area so I can't do in-person research. What I can do is tackle challenging research questions that draw on my knowledge of Chicago records and my understanding of genealogical best practices.

    For example, I could search for a child of Irish immigrant parents who was born and died between, say, 1880-1900, by systematically using a combination of online baptismal records, birth records, cemetery records, city directories, death records, and a guide to Catholic parish locations and ethnicities at founding. And, no matter what the outcome, I would provide you with a detail report summarizing the records I searched, and what I found (or didn't find).

    Ten years of retrieving Chicago records, combined with continuous efforts to hone professional-level research and writing skills, provides me with a strong foundation for assisting others with this kind of project. I finished the National Genealogical Society's American Genealogical Studies course, completed the eighteen-month ProGen Study Group course, and submitted a winning contest entry "James Ayer Smith: Hatter and Furrier" that was published in the Chicago Genealogical Society's quarterly.

Here's what you can expect, if you arrange for me to tackle your reserach question:

1) We will work together to agree on a narrowly-focused research question. If your goal is broad, we will break the research down into small, manageable, measurable steps.

2) I will take a close look at what you know before we begin. I will ask you to share any documents or stories that you might have so I can look for clues to use in brainstorming focused, efficient ways to address your research question.

3) I generally work on one project at a time. You may need to wait a short time before I'm able to begin your research (usually a matter of days), but once I do, it will likely receive my undivided attention.

4) I never promise that I will be able to answer a research question. But, I do promise that I will work hard to find answers and that I will provide a carefully-written report to document the research that I do.

5) I will ask you to sign a contract summarizing our research agreement because I believe the formal understanding it provides is of value to both of us.

6) I will keep you informed of my progress.

And what about fees? You can expect to pay $40 per hour for research and writing when I am able to draw on my experience and expertise in a way that allows me to work efficiently. If I take on a project as an educational experience, I will adjust my rate accordingly. And, if you are willing to let me share work related to your project--on my blog, for example--I may offer a discount. We will agree on fees ahead of time, and I will sometimes offer a set fee or provide a not-to-exceed quote.

To ask a question or explore the possibility of setting up a project, please email I value great communication and I try very hard to reply quickly to every email I receive.