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How It Works

New to professional genealogy? No problem. This is what you need to know about how the process works!

What YOU Do

Identify your research objectives. There is no natural “end” to a family tree – it goes on forever! – so you have to determine what parts you want to learn about. Do you want to find out about your great-grandparents? Your 2nd great-grandparents? You can always add to your family tree, so you simply need to decide what your first objective is.


Select a company. See our guide to “Selecting a Company” for the key information you need to know in making this decision. And, make sure you learn what Family Storylines has to offer before deciding! We’re confident you’ll find we are the most professional and consumer-friendly company in the business.


Determine your budget and project scope. Considering the fee structure of the company you select, and the research objectives you have identified, determine your budget for your research project. This may or may not be enough to entirely accomplish your research objective, but that’s OK! Many people work with companies on multiple projects over time as their budgets allow.


Organize and provide the information you already have. In order for a company to perform research, you’ll need to provide the relevant information you have on names, dates, places, etc., as well as any previous research you have done. This gives the company a starting point for research and ensures they don’t duplicate what you’ve already done!



Review your information for clarity and thoroughness. If you haven’t provided enough information to use as a starting point for your stated objective, or if some information isn’t clear, the genealogist will follow up with you to clarify.


Review existing research. Most genealogists will review multiple existing sources of information to determine if anyone has already performed research on some of your ancestors. However, no qualified genealogist will accept this information as fact! If research does exist on your ancestors, the genealogist will seek to verify the information independently through original records so you know the information is accurate.


Conduct new research. This is the bulk of the genealogist’s job. Conducting research requires locating, retrieving and analyzing multiple historical documents to determine the most accurate information with which to answer your research objective.


Write and deliver the research report and documentation. Once a genealogist has performed the research, he or she will write a report describing the results of the search (your new family tree information!) and all sources used.


What YOU Do

Enjoy your new family tree information!


Determine your next steps for research. If you’re like most people, every research project will make you want to know more! Most genealogists will provide suggestions for further research to help you decide what to do next. When you’re ready, simply start the process again!


Learn how to select a professional genealogy company!