Category Archives: Heir Research

TGP 57: Marcel Elias – Central Europe Genealogy

Featured Guest

Marcel Elias of Avis Genealogy

Marcel Elias

Marcel Elias, the owner of Avis Genealogy, was born in Slovakia and studied at universities in Czech Republic and Germany. He majored in Medieval History and has lived in Germany since 2008. He works as an on-site genealogist for Bavaria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia since 2012. He performs genealogical research for those looking for their Central European ancestors as well as heir research. He has also catalogued WWII graves in Nuremberg and answers request regarding those graves from descendants.

Contact Links

Facebook Page – Avis Genealogy

Links Mentioned

Genealogy Bavaria Facebook Group –

Thing You were Most Afraid of

If I will be good enough.”

Best Advice You Received from Someone Else

To continue and to learn.

Recommended Book

The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Bettinger

Professional Genealogy edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills

Why the West Rules for Now by Ian Morris

Sapience: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari


No matter what you are doing, do it with your heart. You will learn every day. Whether you fail or you succeed, you will learn.”

Action Item

Here’s a simple action item for you today. Find a group on Facebook that focuses on one of your areas of expertise. Join the group and be sure to read the group rules before participating. I would even go so far as to check who the group admin is – and determine whether they are a fellow professional. Regardless respect the rules and remember it’s their group not yours. Then spend some time over the coming weeks participating in the group, giving freely of your knowledge without expecting anything in return and without dropping the name of your company. Focus on sharing your expertise and building your recognition and reputation.


The Genealogy Professional podcast is now available on Spotify. Search for either Marian Pierre-Louis or genealogy to find it. Don’t forget to follow!

If you’re a YouTube you can also find all the episodes of the podcast on YouTube. Don’t expect any video. It’s just an audio-only file with a picture but I’ve put it over there because some people are more comfortable with that platform.

Join the TGP Action Group on Facebook! You can find it at

If you’re not on Facebook, follow the Genealogy Professional on LinkedIn. You can get new episode notices there. Go to Linkedin and search for The Genealogy Professional and hit the follow button.

Direct link to this post:

TGP 52 – An Stofferis, French Genealogy with a Belgian Twist

Featured Guest

An Stofferis

An Stofferis

An Stofferis is an experienced historian and founded International Genealogy Services, which is based in France. She was born in Belgium and studied history at the Catholic University of Leuven specializing in cultural history of the middle ages, modern times, and contemporary history. 

Also at that time, she conducted an extensive genealogical research about the origin of the Belgian scientist Joseph PLATEAU (1801-1883). In March 1996, she was successful in bringing together the different branches of the PLATEAU family to a reunion in Ghent. Her frequent visits to PLATEAU’s descendants resulted in direct access to a very large number of sources for the history of this family. Some sources remained unknown, but gave her the opportunity to uncover new scientific and family data.

In 2010, An Stofferis prepared and presented a biographical article on the decoration painter Antoine PLATEAU (1759-1815) :
A. Bergmans & A. Stofferis, un des meilleurs peintres de fleurs de son temps – Biographie d’Antoine Plateau, dans Een belvedère aan de Schelde. Paviljoen De Notelaer in Hingene (1792-1797), Brussels, 2010, p. 557.

In 2004 An Stofferis obtained her master’s degree in Tourism & Management at the University Antwerp Business School. That same year she moved to France and began working at the Belgian Embassy in Paris. But her passion for history and genealogy was very present. In 2012 she decided to expand her genealogical knowledge by following a course in Historical & Probate Research. 

An Stofferis is fluent in Dutch (native language), French, English and German. Some or all of these languages may be necessary to fulfill a project, as records were created in different languages, depending on the time and the place.

An Stofferis is a member of the Syndicat de généalogistes de France ‘SYGENE’ ( ) and  of the Association of Professional Genealogists (  An Stofferis has become member of ‘Interpret Europe’ ( 

Contact Links

Website – International Genealogy Services

Facebook – International Genealogy Services

Twitter – IGS Genealogy

Best Advice Ever Received

“To be honest in your work and in your accountancy. ”

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

To take a risk and if you have a dream to go for it.

Recommended Book

Guider les jeunes sur la piste de leurs ancêtres by Évelyne Duret 


Don’t give up your dream.

Action Item

An is building her business based on choosing her service (heir research), analyzing her strengths (her familiarity with many foreign languages) and identifying her ideal target clients (law firms on the north coast of France who need both French and Flemish speaking researchers and familiarity with Flemish history and records). By identifying who most needed her unique services she was able to showcase her strengths and make a strong case for getting hired.


For today’s action item, I’d like you to take a stab at doing the same thing. Choose a service, analyze your strengths and identify ideal clients. Your strengths should include qualities or skills that differentiate you from everyone else who does the same service. For instance, many genealogists offer heir research services but not so many researchers in France offer the service along with knowledge of the Flemish language.

Let’s take an example of a genealogist who offers research services in colonial New York. His/her strength could be their ability to read both 17th century English and Dutch handwriting. Who could the potential target clients be?  The obvious answer would be private clients who have New Netherland ancestors. But let’s think beyond that. How about authors who write about New York history, New Netherland history or even simply colonial America. You could also potentially market your services to museums and curators focused on colonial America.

Strengths can be lots of things, from proximity to an in-demand location (think of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City), to a specific skill such as understanding how a surveyor does his job which might be good for interpreting old deeds, or more familiarity with a particular record group than anyone else around.

Put all of this together and see if it helps you look at your business in a new light.

Direct link to this post:

TGP 19 Eileen O’Duill – Probate Research

Featured Guest

Eileen Ó Dúill

Eileen Ó Dúill, has been a professional Irish genealogist since 1990, specializing in legal and probate genealogical research. She is currently the only Certified Genealogist in Ireland. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and served on the board of the as the International Trustee for Britain and Ireland (2007-2012).Eileen O'Duill - Heirs Ireland on The Genealogy Professional podcast

Eileen has lectured at national and international conferences in the US, Ireland, Canada and the U.K. from 1999 to 2014 and co-presented a webinar on Irish genealogical research for She was a course tutor and lecturer on the Diploma in Family History (Genealogy) at the Independent College, Dublin and currently teaches on the summer school programme at University College Cork. She has been admitted as an expert witness in the Surrogate Courts in 6 counties of New York.

Eileen was able to turn a lifelong hobby into a business providing a professional genealogical research service. Being an American living in Ireland for 39 years, has enabled her to have a unique perspective on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and an understanding of her fellow countrymen in their quest for their Irish heritage.

Contact Links

Heirs Ireland website

Other Links

Celtic Connections Conference, Waltham, MA – August 15 & 16, 2014

Back to Our Past, Dublin, Ireland – October 17-19, 2014

University of Cork, Genealogy Summer School program – June 29 – July 6, 2014

The Gathering, Ireland (2013)

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

“1) Get a copy of Professional Genealogy and 2) follow the Transitional Genealogists mailing list.

Recommended Book

Tracing Your Irish Ancestors by John Grenham

Productivity Tool

Drop Box – Tool for sharing large files


“Practice, Practice, Practice! Learn by doing. Get as much experience as possible.”

Action Item

This week, since Eileen and I talked quite a bit about public speaking, let’s warm up to the idea and get you thinking about incorporating public speaking into your offerings.  You won’t actually try to arrange any public speaking engagements. First we need to make sure you are prepared in advance.

ACTION: Before you can do any public speaking you need to get prepared with a potential talk, some equipment and a target venue. Here are the three steps for this week’s action item:

1) You Need a Talk

Think of a topic or project that you could turn in to a potential talk. If you are brand new to public speaking stick to a beginner topic or a subject that you know inside and out.

2) You Need Equipment

To do public speaking you will need to have a laptop computer (or borrow one) and have the corresponding software. For Windows computers this is typically PowerPoint. Keynote for Mac users. If you don’t have this equipment currently can you plan to get it in the future or can you borrow it for your talks?

3) You Need a Venue

Select a location to target for your first talk. Ideally it will be a local historical society, genealogical society or local library.  Hopefully you have already established some relationships with the folks in these organizations. If not, go back and do your networking first.

Direct Link to this post:

TGP 11 Israel Pickholtz – Jewish Genealogy in Israel

Featured Guest

Israel Pickholtz

Israel Pickholtz – A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-born genealogist who has been living in
Israel since 1973. His personal research includes single-surname research in Galicia (formerly Austria, now Ukraine) as well as families from Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, Hungary and later in the US, UK and Israel. From there he developed skills relating to more general Jewish genealogy, including Holocaust research.

Israel  has participated in grave translation projects, searches for missing relatives and Genealogist Israel PickholtzHolocaust-era insurance claims, as well as traditional genealogy research using European, American and Israeli sources.

His most frequent assignments from Israeli sources involve locating and photographing graves, locating living people, Mandatory Citizenship records, records for Galician residents in the 1920s and 1930s, inheritance matters and Holocaust research.

He has lectured at the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) conferences on Jewish Genealogy in the United States, as well as other subjects in Israel.

Israel has served on the Board of the Israel Genealogical Society, as Secretary of Gesher Galicia and as Town Leader for Jewish Records Indexing-Poland (JRI-Poland). He currently serves as Secretary of the Professional Jewish Genealogists Group.

Contact Links

Israel Pickholtz on Twitter – @allmy4parents

Israel’s blog –

Israel Pickholtz on the Association of Professional Genealogist’s website

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

Comment on other people’s blogs. Put your name out in any way you can that doesn’t make you look like a fool.

Recommended Book

My 15 Grandmothers by Genie Milgrom

Productivity Tool

Drop Box – File Sharing
Gmail – Israel uses Gmail as a spam filter


“Write and write and write and get your name out there. If you can do a blog, do a blog.”

Action Item

Israel mentioned in the interview that he contacted me by leaving a comment on this blog.  This is a great idea to get started interacting with the genealogical community, both before and after you become a professional.

ACTION: Your action item this week is to start interacting with the genealogical community by leaving comments on other people’s blogs. First, target a type of blog that is of interest to you. Perhaps that would be an ethnic blog like an Italian genealogy blog or location focused such as one on the state of Nebraska.  Then go to, a blog directory site founded by Thomas MacEntee, to find blogs on your topic.

Next start to “follow” (read them regularly) those blogs. Notice how frequently they publish new posts.  Lastly, provide thoughtful responses in the comments to what you have read in the blog post.  You are now on your way to building relationships with others in the genealogical community!

Direct Link to this post:



TGP 4: Kirsty Wilkinson – Scottish Records & Paleography

Featured Guest

Kirsty Wilkinson

Kirsty Wilkinson is the owner of My Ain Folk, a Scottish genealogy research firm.

Kirsty began researching her own ancestry when she was in her early 20s and soon Kirst Wilkinson My Ain Folk Genealogy - Scotlanddeveloped a passion for family history. She increased her knowledge of genealogical sources through personal and formal study and in 2006 launched My Ain Folk to assist others with tracing their ancestors. Since then she has gained many hours of practical research experience in Scottish archives and record repositories and helped clients worldwide to discover their own family story.

She has a particular interest in paleography (old handwriting) which enables her to carry out research in pre-1700 records and to transcribe handwritten documents from the 1500s-present. Another specialisation is heir- or descendant-tracing and locating living relatives. She has successfully located heirs to estates on behalf of probate research firms in the UK, Europe, Asia and the US and enabled private clients to reconnect with long-lost cousins.

Learn more about Kirsty at her website

One Action Genealogists Can Take Right Now

Set realistic fees and work out how much you can realistically make.

Recommended Book

Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors, the Official Guide, 6th Edition, by the National Records of Scotland

Productivity Tool

Kirsty does use Dropbox but she is otherwise fairly low tech.


“Just do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re wasting your time.”