About Us

Genlighten is an online marketplace community for genealogy research services. Our research providers can help you find the records, relationships, and answers you're searching for. We make it easy to get the help you need, from basic document lookups to large-scale lineage studies.

Who We Are


Dean Richardson, CTO

Dean was introduced to genealogy by his wife, who ushered him up to the genealogy section of the local university library one night to show him the New York Times obituary for his Civil War ancestor. That was thirty years ago, and he's been hooked on family history ever since. Dean's responsibilities at Genlighten range from front-end design and Rails back-end development to inbound marketing and search-engine optimization.


Cynthia Richardson, Customer Support

Looking for a way to turn her passion for historical document research into a source of income, Cynthia taught herself HTML and CSS and built chicagogenealogy.com back in 2003. Since then, she's performed Chicago-area genealogy lookups and custom research for thousands of delighted customers. She's also served as volunteer and director at the Wilmette Family History Center. At Genlighten, Cynthia handles customer support inquiries, maintains our online help facility, and curates our community-generated content. When you call or e-mail us, she'll usually be the one you chat with.

How Genlighten Got Started


As Cynthia's genealogy lookup business began to take off, more and more customers began asking for lookups in places other than Chicago. She saw the potential for a worldwide genealogy lookup marketplace, and by 2007 she and her husband had decided to build it. Genlighten.com opened for business in late 2009. Both clients and providers soon began asking for the site to expand beyond fixed-fee lookups to include open-ended hourly research projects as well. Work began on a completely revised site in early 2011, and Genlighten 2.0 was launched in February of 2012.

Why We're Different


Genlighten doesn't offer searchable databases of scanned document images or user-submitted family trees like many of the best-known genealogy websites. Instead, we connect you with a community of genealogy researchers who can tap their experience, training, and problem-solving skills to help you achieve your research objectives. You can ask our "providers" questions, hire them to retrieve records for you, or engage their services to carry out research projects large and small.

Unlike "Yellow Pages"-like sites that simply list researchers for hire, we're a full-featured e-commerce platform for fee-based genealogy services. Each of our providers has a web-based "store" complete with research offerings and client reviews. You browse providers' offerings and initiate customized research projects with them. A simple-to-use interface lets you and the provider track your project every step of the way.