Interview with Co-Founder

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Several years ago, Jim Heddell recognized the need to createa family history research firm that would be large enough to access recordswherever they are located and that would have the skills and expertise neededto address the specific needs of any client doing family history research.

Phenomenal growth since 2012 has positioned as the world's largest family history research firm.  Over 1,200 professional genealogists enable to access records wherever they are located, including the over 90% of records that FamilySearch estimates are not yet online.  In addition to the largest network of genealogists, also has hundreds of professional historians, private investigators, forensic scientists, DNA experts, university professors/scholars, and archivists working worldwide to provide whatever specific expertise may be required to solve even the toughest research challenges.  Tosubmit a request for research or lookups to the world's favorite genealogy research firm, go to  (They are also currently hiring for several open positions.)

Q: The discovery of DNA and the development of the Internet have significantly altered family history research over the past few decades.  What do you predictwill revolutionize will be the next big influence on research?

A: I believet the time will soon come when the majorityof family history research is achieved through truly collaborative approaches.  Today most family history research firms arelimited in terms of where they can go in order to access records.  They are also limited to the skills of thegenealogists within their specific firm. Over the last few years, a couple research firms have emerged following the example of that offer the ability to access records wherever they are located and that can apply whateverexpertise is needed to solve the needs of clients worldwide.

Q: As genealogists, we are bombarded withnewsletters, journals, blogs, books, and magazines pertaining to our field inevery way from history to professionalism. What one article that you’ve read inthe past year or two (even if it was in an older publication) jumps into yourmind first? What do you remember about that specific piece and why do you thinkit stays with you? Please share name and date of publication, title of article,author.

A: It's been said that searching the internet is like drinkingwater from a fire hose.  Because so muchinformation is available for the world of family history, I have a team ofresearchers who scan over 100 sites weekly and provide the highlights on ourFacebook page.  The articles and posts on this site reach thousandsof people.  It's fascinating to try topredict which articles will go viral.  Thearticles that I have read in the past year that jump into my mind first are theones that have a readership of tens of thousands.  One such article that has been read by almost50,000 people is the "Anatomy of a Social Security Number."

Q: You are asked to research your hometown or your favorite city (youchoose the location--anywhere in the world), but you may focus on one decadeonly. Which town or city and decade would you choose and why? What would youhope to find?

A: As tempting as it is to be able to pick a favorite city andfocus on a particular decade, I find that family history research more oftenthan not
requires genealogists in multiple locations.  I do not feel it is sufficient to merelyfocus on one particular area for research because our ancestors weremobile.  We need to be able to access therecords wherever our ancestors lived.

Q: What software or online program do you use for your own family tree?What do you use when working for clients? Or are you a pen-and-paper person?What method or program do you find most user friendly and which do yourecommend to your fellow genealogists?

A: We like to use whatever software or online tree program theclient uses so that he/she receive it in whichever format they are mostcomfortable with.  As a result, ourresearchers are well versed in most methods and programs.  Personally, I do not have a favorite program,but I commonly use FamilyTree, My Heritage, and

Q: Genealogists often love visiting cemeteries and may use them in theirresearch. With the growing trend for cremation, how do you -- as one whopractices genealogy -- feel about cremation vs burial? What can be gained, lost,and learned?

A: In some countries or cultures (for example, Japan), peopledo not have a choice of whether to bury or cremate.  However, if someone has that choice, Ipersonally would prefer they bury the body as that leaves a physical recordthat is easier to track than an urn of ashes. There are numerous websites for graves (for example, FindAGrave, BillionGraves), but very few for urns.

Note: provides more paid research projects for members of APG than any other research firm.

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September 16, 2016
Wesley is the founder of

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