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Frequently Asked Genealogy Questions

Here are some of the more Frequently Asked Questions that people have asked us. If these don't adequately answer your question, please E-mail us or call toll free (800) 842-7479.


How far back are you able to trace my Family Tree?

This is the question we are asked most often. And even though we may utilize many of the same resources, each Genealogy Research Project is unique unto itself. Much depends on where and when your family was at a particular time, since their place of residence usually determines the availability of records (births, deaths, marriages, probate, land, military, census, etc.). Scotland has excellent statutory records beginning in 1855, and parochial records going back much further. However, many counties in the Southern United States have few records before 1865, since many were destroyed by fire during or after the U.S. Civil War. And it's amazing just how many records have been lost through county courthouse fires, floods, or were just thrown out to make more room. So there is really no way of knowing, beforehand, how far back we can go in finding your ancestors; there are simply too many variables. Without first doing the research , there is no way of knowing what we will find. And hopefully each find provides another clue on where to look for something else. That's another reason that no reputable researcher can guarantee the outcome of a particular project.

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Do you guarantee your work?

We guarantee our work to be performed with professional due diligence in accordance with the highest professional standards and in full compliance with the Code of Ethics of the Association of Professional Genealogist; The Board for Certification of Genealogists and the Standards for Genealogical Research of the National Genealogical Society. Due to the many variables involved in the research process it is neither ethical, nor possible for any researcher to guarantee a specific result for a given request. There are simply too many circumstances that can limit the success or failure of any project. However, if you order an Individual Record or Index Search and we can't locate the record, you owe us nothing! If you have already paid, your money will be refunded in full!

We provide references upon request.

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What do you do when records have been destroyed?

Many counties in the Southern United States have few records before 1865, since many were destroyed during the U.S. Civil War. Still others were destroyed by other natural disasters. One of the principle reasons to hire a professional genealogist is they should know what alternative records may be available to document a particular event. For instance, a marriage record may have been destroyed by a courthouse fire, but it may have been recorded by a local newspaper or church records; or some census records indicate an age when first married. Locating these alternate sources is often half the job.

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What do you need from me before starting?

We use standard questionnaires to insure that your researcher touches every base in researching your family history. And before we start on your project, you will be asked to provide copies of any evidence used to document your family. Remember! Every documented fact you can supply in advance, is one less item that we need to research. The fewer things to research and verify, the less your bill.
Your researcher needs to know everything possible; everything you've been told, and everything that your family members know or have been told. This may be over-simplified, but not by much. If you provide complete and correct information, your researcher can work with greater efficiency, and have a better chance of success in finding the information you want. The easier for them, the less expense for you. Like most research projects in any profession, the success of the project depends largely upon what information is provided at the start. However, don't reject something just because you are unsure of its accuracy; just let you researcher know that you're unsure and why.

  • Start by providing everything you actually KNOW FOR FACT (and let your research specialist know it is FACT, and why).
  • Next, provide as much information that you believe to be fctual and accurate. (If you're not sure of your grandparents' real names, put down what you believe to be correct, but let us know that you're not sure).
  • Then provide the family-held history and stories; stories that may or may not be accurate. "Great Granddad was supposed to be related to Robert E. Lee," or "Great-uncle Julian fought at the Alamo with Davey Crockett."
  • Finally, remember that everything is important! No detail should be left out. Don't forget the "little things" like where people lived during a particular period; where they went to school, their occupation or where they worked . . .

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How much will it cost?

Each Research Project will vary in charges, due to the ease or complexity of the project itself. Some project may be completed in an hour and others may take months. Much depends on exactly what you want us to do, what documentation you require, and how much you are willing to spend.
If you want us to travel across the country to secure evidence from a remote courthouse, it obviously will be more expensive than if all you want to know if Great-uncle Joe was in the War of 1812.
We accept American Express, VISA, MasterCard, Discover and eCheck through PayPal online. In order to keep our fees low, we request pre-payment on most projects, but have several payment plans available for more involved research. Call for more details. Our general rates for North American research are $25.00 per hour and for research outside North America $40.00 per hour. Expenses vary by research project. To find out more, request a Free Estimate.

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How do you know what is a fact and what isn't?

A fact is any statement that is backed by substantial evidence to support the truth of the statement. There are varying degrees of evidence, usually referred to as primary and direct evidence or secondary and indirect evidence.
A Birth certificate may contain the name of the child, the date, time, and place of birth, the name of the mother (maybe even the maiden name) and father, and perhaps even the ages (or birth dates) of the parents. This document would be primary evidence of the name of the child and its parents, the date, time, and place of birth. It is considered primary because it is the primary documentation of the birth of this child. It is also direct evidence of the stated events because it is direct attribution to the birth of the child. However, it would be secondary (or indirect) evidence of the birth dates of the parents, even if given. The primary and direct evidence of their birth is their own birth certificates.

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How long does research take?

Generally, single record searches are mailed within 7-10 business days; Initial Consultations within 10 days; Basic Research Programs are usually completed within 3-9 weeks; and Major Programs of 20 hours or more are usually ready within 6-12 weeks. However, since every project is individual, each with unique situations and circumstances, it is impossible to determine exactly how much time an individual project will take. For a Full Research Project allow us approximately three months for U.S. records, and five to six months for International projects, depending upon our workload at the time. We can give you a better estimate after we've seen the details of your application.

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What services do you offer?

The Family Research Group and Family Research Library offer a wide variety of genealogical related services, as well as products to assist the do-it-yourselfer.

RESEARCH: From our Initial Consultation and Basic Research Service to our extensive Advanced Research Program, we have a program designed to fit any need. The Family Research Group specializes in the research of historical and genealogical materials from many sources around the world. We currently have access to record collections containing more than a million volumes, thousands of databases and literally billions of individual records. If you want to know more about what records we utilize in our searches, check out the Family Research Library Catalog which is available for download in pdf format. Also check our Records Page for a more complete description of other collections and records. We can also provide Personal Consultation Services for your genealogical research.

RECORDS SEARCH: The Research Group has access to record sources from around the world. We currently have access to Collections containing more than a million volumes, thousands of databases and literally billions of individual records. If you want to know more about what records we utilize in our searches, check out our Records Search page. We have a guarantee that you can't beat anywhere.

INITIAL CONSULTATION: This program is an inexpensive service for our web browsers and clients alike. Designed to help you over the bumps in the road, our professionals will provide you with specific research recommendations and sources.

GROUP EDUCATION: The Research Group also offers training and education in historical and genealogical research. We offer group seminars on a variety of subjects concerning genealogy, records, computers and the internet. Seminars can range from an hour to several days. We will custom design a program to fit your needs.

INDIVIDUAL TRAINING: We also offer private classes, individually tailored to your needs. All individual training programs are custom designed specifically for you.

COMPUTERS & WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT: We can assist in most computer needs, particularly dealing with genealogy assistance. We also offer a complete line of website development and assistance packages.

PHOTO RESTORATION: We offer a complete line of digital photo restoration services for black and white, color, tin types, etc. We do not alter the original in any way, and you will receive the original back as well as a restored version and a digital file on either disk or CD. Ask to see our examples.

DOCUMENT CONSERVATION: We can provide conservation services for nearly any type of document. Don't wait until it's too late to save your precious documents.

PHOTO SLIDESHOWS: We offer a full digital slideshow service from either your digitally supplied photographs or we will scan them and create the Slideshow, complete with captions and a music accompaniment. We will format the slideshow so that it can be viewed on your television equipped with a DVD player that will play video CD format.

PUBLISHING SERVICES: We offer a full line of publishing services, including

  • Editing Services - We will proofread, edit and arrange your information into manuscript format, so it is ready for publication.
  • Indexing Services - We will create an Index and/or Table of Contents for any manuscript or document you provide.
  • Publication and Printing - We will publish your manuscript, with a Library of Congress Number, and copyright protection.
  • Family Bible Transcription and Publication - We will scan and transcribe the genealogical sections of your Family Bible and publish it so that all members of the family may have access to the information for research and study.

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Copyright © 2002 - 2017 Family Research Group
4705 N Brookview Terrace - Litchfield Park AZ 85340
(208) 853-7567
Last updated: 26 Apr 2011