Shifting Sands Genealogy offers family tree building, in-depth ancestry research and report writing, heirloom preservation, consultations, and more!


Every project begins with a free 30-minute initial consultation. During this meeting, you tell me more about what you already know and what you would like to accomplish. Together, we determine what the objective of the project will be and how many hours you would like me to commit to it. All of my services are billed at an hourly rate of $50 for new clients.


Each family history project is unique. Below are just a few ideas to inspire you, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. The best way to learn more about my services, how I might best serve you, and how much your specific project may cost is to contact me directly!


Mossy tree trunk with gnarled roots rising above ground

Family Tree Foundations

5+ Hours

A family tree needs strong foundations to grow. This option is best for people who haven't done much of their own genealogy and are interested in getting their tree started. For most people, this can take your family back a few generations. In the end, you'll have a basic tree with names, dates, locations, as well as images of key historical documents that feature the names of your ancestors.

Stack of aged oversized bound register books

Branches & Leaves

8+ Hours

This package is for those who don't know much beyond their great-grandparents. Often this will take your tree back into the 1800s and cover several different surnames. The information gained from this package can be used to create beautiful family pedigrees for display or a book to take to the next family reunion.

Red brick wall roughly painted white

Brick Wall Research

8+ Hours

If you've been doing genealogy for awhile, and have come up with a particularly difficult brick wall that you can't get past, why not let a fresh pair of eyes have a look at it? This project may involve tracking an elusive ancestor, learning the hometown of an immigrant ancestor, or discovering the maiden name of a female ancestor. Solving these cases usually requires lesser-used records not easily obtained by a simple online database search. By the end of this project, you'll have a fully-sourced research report with my findings and suggestions for future research ideas.

Open book with fountain pen and open pocket watch lying on top

The DIYer Package

3+ Hours

Do you like to do your own genealogy but have hit a brick wall? Are you on a budget and just need some help figuring out where to go next? I will review your current research to check for accuracy and then make a custom plan with recommendations to take your research forward. You'll receive a prioritized list of sources to consider and suggested next steps.

Aged map

Mapping & Trip Planning

3+ Hours

This is one of my favorite things to do with my own genealogy! If you're a visual person, there is nothing like seeing all of the key sites of your ancestors plotted out on a map. Alternatively, if you are planning a trip to visit places where your ancestors lived, this can help you determine the route and the best stops along the way. The end result is a color-coded map with notes so you can visualize where family history events took place, all easily accessible online while you're on the go. This would make a great "add-on" to one of my other tree building packages.

Old black and white photo of a man in a suit inside of a gold frame and a red velvet case

Ancestral Biographies

10+ Hours

Every family historian has an ancestor or two that they're particularly drawn to learn more about. With this package, I will create a full biographical sketch for a single person or ancestral couple. This profile will place them in their historical context, giving you a more complete picture of the life they led. The final report will bring them to life in an easy-to-read narrative.

Box of old black and white photos of various sizes

Heirloom Preservation & Digitization

Time Varies Depending on Project

Basements and attics with Aunt Nellie's scrapbooks and Great-Grandpa Bill's military memorabilia. Boxes full of old photos. Do you have family treasures that are sitting hidden away, in less-than-ideal storage conditions? Tackling these kinds of projects can easily overwhelm people, but finishing them can bring momentous rewards. I will work closely with you to break down huge scanning projects into workable sections. My museum background has given me the expertise to preserve precious artifacts for future generations, and you'll receive advice customized to your particular family keepsakes.

Open laptop with one hand pointing to the screen and another hand on the touchpad

Technology & Organization

1+ Hours

The internet and computers have revolutionized the way people do genealogy. However, learning how to use all of these new tools can be confusing and the massive amounts of resources available to us can be overwhelming. I can help with a variety of tasks, from setting up genealogy software to navigating online databases and creating an online tree. If you're overwhelmed with all of the digital or hardcopy documents that you've accumulated in your years of research, I can create a filing system and workflow that works for you. Spend more time on research and less on retrieving what you need!

Bookshelves of oversized register books and a ladder leaning to one side

Record Retrieval

1+ Hours

It's not all online! I can retrieve records from most counties or local repositories around West & Central Michigan (others upon request) if you can't travel yourself. Many small local archives have hidden gems in their collections, which can add valuable context to the lives of your ancestors. I can also take photos of local sites of significance, like historic family homes, cemeteries, and landmarks.

A tabletop with a packet of papers and booklets, tied with string, and a fountain pen and old photos


1+ Hours

I offer hourly consultations via phone or video chat if you need custom advice on your research. Some examples of the topics we can discuss? Maybe you recently got your DNA test results back and you need help analyzing it all OR you want to learn how to best preserve and organize your family heirlooms OR you're interested in getting started with genealogy, but aren't sure where to begin. Whatever your family history question, I can offer professional, customized advice to get you on your way.

Photo Credits: Most images on this page graciously provided by the artists of by open creative license.