the Family Story Project

imageThe Family Story Project is a combination of workshops and/or sessions designed to build a narrative that you can share with your family members about the lives and experiences of your ancestors. That narrative or story is a combination of the stories that you have heard and told over the years. In some cases a visual document is created to display in your home to further extend the family knowledge. Some examples follow.

Where is home?        Who are your people?     What do you have recorded already?    In Which Wars did your family members serve?

Q. How do I get STARTED?

A. Show your commitment to the process with a $300 deposit and commit to a timely completion of some basic “ancestry charts and forms and an in-person/phone interview about those forms and to set a specific guideline for this project.

($300 divided by 72 hours = $4.16)

Q. What is covered by the $300 deposit?

A.  Family History Research is very detailed and intensive work spent in libraries, archives, Court houses and other locations where paper data is stored. There are also a number of online resources that require licensing to access. Research charges range widely and depend primarily on the skill level and scope of a project. This base fee covers roughly 72 hours of initial research and an attempt to verify the information provided on the forms and from the interview.

Q. Is this deposit refundable?

A. The deposit is not refundable, however, a report of my findings is provided from that 72+ hours of verification research before deciding if the next level of a project can be agreed to proceed.

Q. What is the most important aspect of starting a project?

A. Do your best to inform me of everything that you already know. In this way we can avoid a 72 hour report with discoveries that you knew but didn’t consider “important” or that you didn’t expect me to uncover.  It is a waste of effort and, more importantly, YOUR deposit.

Q. Can a project be performed on BOTH sides of my family?

A. No. Every person or side of the family (i.e. Mom/Dad) has to be researched separately. The same is true for step-parents or guardians that you are considering. Whereas a project can be performed for non-blood parents you should consider that the information collected has no bearing on YOUR ACTUAL bloodline.

Q. Will I have to do a DNA test?

A. No, the Family Story Project does not focus on that method of identification. Instead, the basics are used to build on a family narrative/story that utilizes a combination of storytelling, historical information and documentation readily available from your life and the lives of relatives willing to participate.

Q. How long does it take?

A. That is always a difficult question since the goal is to help create a family narrative and support that narrative/story with as much documentation as can be secured. However, the initial project scope is generally a 8-to-10 week undertaking.

Q. What are the additional cost beyond the deposit?

A. The additional cost will vary by project, but you can expect to have an agreed upon fee for research, travel, documentation and creating a digital booklet that will help your research and give you a refresher for your developing narrative.

Take a look at the familiar charts below and click to download from The National Archive Charts page. Try your hand at filling out the Pedigree chart.

An Ancestor Chartanchart
Use this chart to show those people from whom you DIRECTLY descend. Step-parents are not blood relatives, so recording their family history will generally falter after one or two generations. Whereas it is interesting information if your Step-family is involved in your life, the genealogical value is minimal. Your ultimate intent is to compile a complete and correct family unit. Most often you will start with a 4 Generation Chart but larger charts are available and advised if you have the information ready to record.

A Source Summary Chart
Use this chart to refer quickly to information you have located for a particular family and the source(s) of that information. It is a good practice to have a separate source summary of information found for each family group.

Correspondence Record
Use this chart to refer quickly to and keep track of everyone that you have contact with regarding your family story. Recording: the reasons for writing and if  you have already received an answer or have new questions or information that requires documentation or clarification. This is a very important document that will provide a documentation and source for moving ahead with a professional research project.

There are different approaches to The Family Story and one of the most significant and important ones is the video and audio recording of relatives and ourselves along the way. When I first began FSP the ability to record involved equipment that most web users have no idea how to operate. I actually used a professional mobile audio station built by Engineers at the radio station where I worked for over twenty years. It was heavy and difficult to manage but gave me terrific audio quality. It took a few years before portable video cameras replaced the 8mm handhelds and even a few more years before a portable computer and software, including Family Tree Maker, made the task easier. Now, everybody has an entire recording studio, editor and the web at their fingertips.

Most FSP Clients are surprised to discover that the average cell phone device carries an entire library of readily accessible family research, contact, audio and video to complete 25-50% of a basic three or four generation pedigree chart in our first meeting.

Take a look at the information required on the World War I Registration form and think of how beneficial that information can be in adding to your family story project. I can help locate these completed forms for your relatives who served in WWI and WWII. Other information is available for Civil War participation and limited other war related service.


5 thoughts on “the Family Story Project”

  1. Peace brother, I have been putting together my family tree/history for the last few weeks now. I’ve been able to get down the birth dates around 1858 of my ancestors and I have hit a bit of a wall and was wondering if you could give me some leads that could help me out? I what to learn about the slavery and the white side of my blood line as well. Thanks in advance brother


    1. Thank you Lavar. I’m glad that you’re having successes in such a short time span. It usually takes months to get validated and documented information on the first three or four generations. US Census info on sites like Ancestry are much better nowadays.

      As for your question(s) there are some recommendations:
      1. I can do a review and assessment of what you currently have found and perform an electronic validation to be CERTAIN that you are moving in the right direction.

      2. We can THEN clarify your goals and next steps for WHICH SIDE YOU WANT TO RESEARCH FIRST. Your parents or you and your spouse each have a genealogy that is a single project. Each person on your research has two parents, who each have two, etc who are often not from the same city, state.
      Once we decide which side is first we can do a short window project (72 hours of research) and then decide the next step.

      3. Unless you have family stories or current documents, like a Last Will, it may be awhile before you can get to verifying. “White family members”. Usually I’ll advise you to a Certified Genealogist for those research goals. With the previous steps in hand it’ll save you on their fees that usually start at $30-$75 per research hour.

      We can meet up if you want a better idea of where you are actually standing with your current process.
      That is usually a recorded one hour face-to-face over coffee with you providing me copies of your info, photos, stories and me asking questions for obvious gaps.
      I’ll perform a 72 hour project and report the findings in a new face-to-face one hour.

      You can email me at


    2. Lavar,

      Two things: 1. Do you already have an idea of what you’d like to start with ( Mom or Dad side)?

      2. Are you available for a sit down this week? I’m in the Irving area most days until 5 or 6pm and that’s pretty centralized, in terms of meeting up throughout DFW.

      One more thing: Fast results usually mean your family hasn’t spread too far in the last four-to-six generations. My instincts tell me probably North Central TEXAS is your research arena. Am I in the right ballpark? Looking forward to your reply.

      Sent from my Cell
      Jas. Mardis


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Fabric Artist & Writer

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