Ancestry Blog » Expert Connect The official blog of Ancestry Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:29:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Meet The ProGenealogists Fri, 11 Oct 2013 20:21:14 +0000 Pam Velazquez Read more]]> When you think of genealogists, do you think of The Jimmy Kimmel Show?

As recognized experts in the field of genealogy, the professionals at ProGenealogists have authored books and articles, spoken at conferences in several countries, and made several TV appearances on Who Do You Think You Are?, CBS This Morning, CNN’s Starting Point and, yes, the Jimmy Kimmel Show. The experts at ProGenealogists have dedicated their careers to researching the families of clients who come to them looking to connect with their past and learn their stories. Many of the ProGenealogists researchers became fascinated by family history at a very young age, and their interest grew into careers.

Some members of the team have 20-30 or more years of experience in the field; others hold a degree in family history or an advanced degree in history, library science, or a related field. Ten members of the ProGenealogists team are published authors. All are passionate researchers, problem solvers, and story tellers. Each of the experts has one or more specialties, whether it be, for example, US Southern States, Native American Research, Great Britain, Germany, Eastern Europe, or Latin America. ProGenealogists can do research in just about any area of the world where records are available.

ProGenealogists has helped thousands of clients discover their roots and their family stories over the years. The researchers use records at archives, libraries, courthouses, and other repositories around the world to find original documents for their clients. They also use and other websites extensively in their research. ProGenealogists is based in Salt Lake City, but they work with a large network of colleagues who span the globe. ProGenealogists experts travel to countries like Ireland and Poland to conduct on-site research for their clients. This combination of resources allows the team to find answers others cannot. 10 hours of ProGenealogists time may equal 100 hours of another person’s time.

Why do people hire ProGenealogists? Some clients go to ProGenealogists because they would like to have their family history researched and documented by experts, others because they want to commission a large project that will culminate in a book, others because they have reached a brick wall in their own research and just need help with a particularly problematic research problem.

ProGenealogists conducted much of the research that has been used in four seasons of Who Do You Think You Are? TV episodes. This show has brought family history to an audience of millions. They have conducted research on other television projects, as well as assisted in legal cases looking for the heirs to estates.

ProGenealogists takes their clients on a journey back in time. These talented experts provide their clients with footnoted research reports, and they are sticklers for detail and proof. They also provide copies of original documents illustrating the lives of the families they research. They deliver their research packages in handsome binders or impressive digital presentations.

ProGenealogists operates in an atmosphere of intense collaboration among experts to achieve excellent results. Together, the team can provide very effective service to clients that an individual professional genealogist could not provide alone.

The team also highly values education and mentoring, working to grow the next generation of senior experts. It is an environment where everyone is constantly learning. With all of the genealogical knowledge ProGenealogists holds, they are well positioned to help build its valuable online content and website experience.

ProGenealogists’ clients tell stories of life-changing experiences and mysteries solved. One client was able to learn where his grandmother came from in Croatia, visit his grandmother’s village, and share a meal with cousins who still live there. Another client found his cousins in Ireland, and amazingly one of them operates a genealogy center! A beloved community humanitarian from Wisconsin had been given up by her mother and never knew any family, but ProGenealogists traced her mother and reunited her with her first cousins.

You can follow ProGenealogists’ tips, client testimonials, and announcements on their Facebook page, and to learn more about the team and discover tips and resources, visit their website at

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Discovering true age of grandmother on Expert Connect Thu, 24 Jun 2010 13:27:08 +0000 Ancestry Team Read more]]> As the – Expert Connect service celebrates its first anniversary since launching on June 24, 2009, we wanted to share Kathy Morrissey’s story of how she found her grandmother’s true age, a family mystery, and passed that along to her mother.  Expert Connect is an online tool available on that links you to hundreds of experienced genealogists who can assist you with your research goals.  Kathy has been an subscriber since November 2006.

EC [Expert Connect]: How did you first get interested in researching your genealogy?

KM [Kathy Morrissey]: My interest was first ignited in grade school when we had a homework assignment to build our family tree.  I was always sad that my family tree could not go past my grandparents’ on my mother’s side.  We tried to get more stories from my grandparents, but we were never certain if their memories were correct.  I also remember my father trying to get more information about my grandmother’s family while in England but was asked to not look any further by the city office, similar to the chamber in the U.S.

When Good Morning America featured an ancestry search for their anchors, I became more interested and decided to try  I’ve built 2 trees, beginning with my husband on one tree and me on the other.

EC: Why did you use Expert Connect on

KM: My main goal was to locate the birth certificate of my maternal grandmother.  I wanted to find it as a gift for my mother.  All of us had heard the stories, heard various names and we wanted to try and connect the dots.  I had worked on it tirelessly for three years but just could not land on the specific document.

As I was approaching  Mother’s Day 2010, my mother (now 89), I realized how much time had passed without achieving my goal.  I really questioned myself about hiring an expert, I went back and forth (praying) on whether I should do this or not.

I decided to place a project request.  It felt like a ‘self-absorbed’ wish of my own.  As I shared with some of my coworkers what I was thinking, they confirmed my decision in getting the truth while I could still share the results with my mother.

EC: How was your experience with the expert that you had hired, Elizabeth Peters ?

KM: Elizabeth was excellent to work with! I had concern choosing someone without personal knowledge of them, but Elizabeth was the perfect choice. Her communication via the message board and email gave me comfort & assurance with my decision. I recommend her and hope to use her again in the future following another branch of our family tree.

Elizabeth was monitoring my project request.  Her first bid response was one of the highest.  It made me gulp a little.  But once I added more detail to the bid request, Elizabeth came back and gave me a flat rate cost for researching and, if found, delivering the birth certificate of my grandmother and the names of her parents.

We had heard so many stories of Lucy Horsfall (my grandmother) but we needed to connect the dots.  In our minds’ memory, we felt Lucy was a real life Cinderella story.  She did not have a stepmother, but she was monitored by her birth family even though she was placed as a servant girl.  We knew she was given a doll once, only to have the people take it from her and sell it in their store.  That is why, when Lucy was in her final years, needing care in a nursing home, my sister and I gave her a doll.  Her very own doll…..finally!

We were never certain of Lucy’s age.  Often we wondered if she lied about her age in order to leave being a servant.  Thankfully, Elizabeth located her birth certificate and we now know she never lied about the year she was born.  Lucy lived to age 101….it really was her true age!

EC:  What did you do with the research that your expert delivered (ie, upload that to my Family Tree; print a hard copy book or other document; share with family, etc)?

KM: The documents are loaded onto our Family Tree.  I also sent copies of it to all family members.  For one cousin who had not kept in touch with us very regularly – it made her day to finally know the real birth date of Lucy and that all the stories we had heard lined up to paint a picture of Lucy’s life before coming to the U.S.

If you’d like the help of a professional genealogist, see the “Hire an Expert” section on the homepage, or visit

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Expert Connect helps track down unknown Grandfather’s history Thu, 27 May 2010 19:57:30 +0000 Ancestry Team Read more]]> started the Expert Connect service nearly a year ago.  For those of you that aren’t aware, Expert Connect is an online tool available on that will link you to hundreds of experienced genealogists who can assist you with your research goals. We recently talked with Willard Edison, an customer and a security supervisor in Puget Sound, WA who hired an expert to help uncover a mystery in his father’s family history.  This is what he had to say.

EC [Expert Connect]:  What first got you interested in researching your genealogy?
WE [Willard Edison]: I started this out of memory and respect for my mother, who conducted genealogy research on our family from the 1970s until her passing in the late 90s. All her work was done snail mail to county recorder offices, historical societies, and by accessing Mormon records in Salt Lake City. I was only going to digitize her work for posterity.  In the process, my wife and I became hooked on genealogy as well. I’m sure my Mother is smiling from Heaven.

EC: What caused you to use Expert Connect on
When my dad reached retirement age, he could not get his SS benefits until he made a legal name change. That’s when we all found out that our true last name was NOT the last name we’d all lived by throughout our lives, as he had not been formally adopted as a child as he thought he was.  Huge surprise.

This began a search for my true paternal grandfather. I could not get beyond 1916 in the deserts of Nevada and the area around San Francisco. In that research, I did find out my grandmother had several children who died within months of birth, which was original research no one in the family knew about, but I was out of leads and out of ideas. I thought “what the heck. I’ll spend a few dollars, hire a pro, and see what they can do. It will either confirm a dead end or lead us somewhere”.

As a professional security guy with a background in criminal investigations, I knew that the results not only depended on the quality of my expert, but how lucky she was as well.  There is just SO much information that sits quietly waiting for original discovery, in places I’m not even aware of. I was prepared for disappointing results, only because I had cases in my own investigative career that I could not solve.

EC: How was your experience with the expert that you had hired, Sharolyn McCoy?
WE:  Superb. The information I already developed had led me to Missouri, so figured I should hire an expert familiar with Missouri genealogy. Ultimately she actually did very little in Missouri, because she uncovered a treasure trove of information about my grandfather in California and Oregon. This is testimony to the quality of my expert. How she reached out and discovered/collected so much good information literally astounded me.  I can’t say enough about the hard work and effort my expert put into this project.
For almost 5 years, I tried everything I could think of to determine where my grandfather came from, what his life was like, how his life affected mine, and what happened to him. In less than a month, she answered all these questions and completely documented her research. My gratitude goes beyond money.

EC: What will you do with the research that your expert delivered?
WE:  I’ll share it with my one remaining sister, my children and their kids. Kids born in the 1990s and more recently do not even have a sense of their own history and life, because the world is changing so fast. If I can make my grandparents’ world real to my grandkids, it will all be worth it.

If you want an experience like Willard and want the help of a professional genealogist, check out the “Hire an Expert” section on the homepage, or visit

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How Do You Find 5,000 Cousins? Tue, 20 Oct 2009 00:39:56 +0000 Jeanie Croasmun Read more]]> I can count my first cousins on one hand and still have a thumb to spare. So when author and family historian Crista Cowan told me how many living cousins she had tracked down in the course of just a handful of years, I was floored.

Crista would have needed nearly 1,000 of my hands – thumbs included.

It wasn’t just a giant family tree that Crista was trying to populate. She was gathering all of the living descendants of one of her own ancestors, a great-great-great-grandfather, for a family reunion. One very, very big family reunion.

Using a combination of Internet tools, genealogy tricks, and the kindness of relative strangers (who happened to be descendants of the same g-g-g-grandfather), Crista tracked down almost 5,000 living descendants of Samuel Milliner for the celebration of his 200th birthday last summer. Better still, Crista survived to talk about it – and to start planning another reunion for next summer.

Crista’s how-to tale is just one of the stories in the November/December issue of Ancestry magazine. You’ll also find features on how history affected courtship, spotting a child from another mother in a family tree, and the latest from columnists Myra Vanderpool Gormley, Howard Wolinsky, Megan Smolenyak Smoleyak, and more. Plus you’ll get to see what happened when we put our own family history wish-lists up for bid on Expert Connect at (hint: we’re all celebrating a bit early this year).

Ancestry magazine subscribers should start receiving the November/December issue this week. (Not a subscriber? You’ll also find individual copies in larger bookstores and on the Shop button at Or visit for articles and more information).

As always, I’d love to get your feedback on the articles we write. You can reach me via email at or become a fan of Ancestry magazine at Facebook and drop me a line there. And if there’s something you’d like to see Ancestry magazine cover in 2010, I definitely want to hear that, too.

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Get help from experts at Expert Connect Thu, 25 Jun 2009 22:17:54 +0000 Todd Godfrey Read more]]> We have just launched the beta version of a new service called Expert Connect. This new service connects members and visitors with some of the world’s best independent professional genealogists and local researchers. The initial services available include:

Record Pickup – Hire a researcher in another state or country to visit a specific archive, collect the record you need and send it to you.

Local Photo – Pay a researcher in your ancestor’s hometown to snap a picture of a headstone, historic building or other landmark.

Ask an Expert – Post a question to a range of professionals and get the advice and direction you need.

Record Lookup –Work with a professional to track down hard to find records and retrieve a copy for you.

Custom Research – Recruit a seasoned professional to take on a complex project that may be beyond your experience or time availability.

Starting a project is simple and there are hundreds of experts available to help from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and the United Kingdom. More are joining everyday offering their unique services. These are terrific, dedicated people with a passion for genealogy and a real desire to help you discover more of your family history. With their help you just may find that brickwall in your research start to crumble.

Check out the beta site at Please provide your feedback as you use the service. We are excited to offer yet another way to help you discover your story.

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