Hello and welcome. My name is John. This is the story of how and why I started GeneaLOGIC Family Research Services.
I have always been curious about my place in the world. How did I come to be who I am and where I am? My search began in sixth grade when a family history project was assigned in class. I interviewed my grandparents and made my first small family tree. Sixth grade was also when I read my first book about DNA. I’ve been fascinated by genealogy, DNA, and the science of inheritance ever since.
As I grew, my hobby grew with me. I scoured the internet and physical archives for details about my ancestors. I came to understand what different sources could and could not tell me. I quizzed my relatives about their lives and the lives of people they knew before I came around. I dug through boxes of family photographs to see the people and places that led to me. (I also digitized the pictures for my whole family to share.) My personal family tree, including my wife’s side, now includes almost 14,000 individuals. Tracing so many different family lines has led me to civil, parish, and personal records written in many languages—German, Czech, French, Latin, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, and even Ojibwe—and housed in archives in dozens of U.S. states, Canada, and Europe. I’ve met many helpful cousins along the way.
My professional career broadened the search for my place in the world and sharpened my research and writing skills. I hold a master’s degree in history and have experience at four highly regarded museums: the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, the Minnesota Historical Society, Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware, and the Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. In Eau Claire, I worked as the museum’s lead writer. It was my job to produce compelling stories about the ordinary people who made western Wisconsin what it is today. My professional training and experience has helped me understand how my ancestors—and yours too—fit into American and world history. I can now tell dozens of fascinating stories about who my ancestors were, how they lived, and why they did what they did. I put the same skills to work for all of my GeneaLOGIC clients.
Then, at age 28, out of nowhere I was faced with the ultimate surprise for a genealogy buff. I had ordered a DNA test to finally satisfy my curiosity about genetic genealogy. When I told my parents about the test I was going to take, they sat me down for a startling discussion. They had used a sperm donor to conceive me, they explained, so I shouldn’t expect to find any DNA-matched cousins on my dad’s side. The donation had been done anonymously and all documentation—what little there was—had been destroyed.
Rather than becoming disillusioned, I took it as a challenge. Putting all my genealogical and historical skills to work, I reconstructed the blank half of my family tree from the trees of distant 3rd- and 4th-cousins and managed to identify the anonymous donor. (Because there was so little documentary information to go on, this outcome came as a surprise even to people—like my wife and parents—who knew my genealogy skills firsthand.) I met my biological father for the first time in early 2016 and we have since developed a relaxed friendship.
The successful search for my biological father led to a spark of inspiration. There are lots of people out there looking for unknown or anonymous parents, grandparents, or siblings, but very few with the skills and experience I possess. I started GeneaLOGIC Family Research Services with the primary goal of helping such individuals. My first couple clients show the diversity of situations in which my services can be put to use. One client was conceived in an adulterous relationship in which the father never knew the affair had led to a child. Another was looking for information about her father, who had been abandoned at an orphanage as a newborn. Whatever your circumstances, there is still hope.
Helping people find anonymous biological relatives was the driver behind the business, but I am eager to help people with all sorts of genealogy questions. Taken together, my experiences have given me the skills and tools to provide my clients a wide range of genealogical research services at a professional level. Whether you’re looking for lost family, in-depth research assistance, or someone to write your family history narrative, I can help you.
A final note: I have a strong ethical core. I work with all my GeneaLOGIC clients to understand the possible risks and rewards of searching for one’s unknown past, through DNA testing or otherwise. You never know who or what you will find. When appropriate, I am happy to refer clients to a family therapist or a law firm specializing in adoption, donation, and surrogacy. I am here to help you.