NGS Books

Forensic Genealogy: Theory & Practice

book cover Forensic genealogy is an emerging field for professional genealogists. In essence, it applies genealogical knowledge, methods, and standards to legal problems and proceedings. In practice, it draws upon an ever-growing range of specialties that encompasses broad skillsets from probate to criminal law to the provenance of artwork. Forensic Genealogy: Theory & Practice is the first comprehensive textbook on this field of study. It is the brainchild of Michael S. Ramage, JD, CG, and Catherine Becker Wiest Desmarais, CG. Contributing authors include Kelvin L. Meyers, FTxSGS; Angie Bush, David Gurney, JD, PhD; Cairenn Binder, and Rich Venezia. Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, is its editor. Published by the National Genealogical Society in 2024, Forensic Genealogy: Theory & Practice sets a standard of professionalism and expertise across all areas of forensic genealogy practice.

Forensic Genealogy: Theory & Practice offers professional genealogists a deep dive into the specialty areas and skills required to build a career as a forensic genealogist. Part one of the book, examines forensic genealogy’s major subspecialties. The first seven chapters discuss


  • Missing and Unknown Estate Heirs: Law and Procedure
  • Real Estate Issues
  • Mineral Interests
  • Military Repatriation
  • Solving Unknown Parentage Cases with DNA
  • Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG)
  • Dual Citizenship

Chapter eight offers an overview of other specializations, including:

  • Memoir-Fraud
  • Capital Mitigation
  • Copyright and Trademark
  • Guardianships
  • Provenance
  • Reparations
  • Tort Cases
  • Tribal-Membership Research
  • Unclaimed or Abandoned Property
  • Unclaimed Persons
  • United States Citizenship

In part two, the authors focus on the nuts and bolts of establishing and running a business as a forensic genealogist. They include forms such as sample contracts, confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, and affidavits of investigation. They also discuss best practices of casework such as issues of privacy for the forensic genetic genealogist who is searching for a living heir and the convergence of Genealogical Proof Standards (GPS) and evidentiary rules in legal cases. Chapters nine through fourteen cover

  • Business Considerations
  • Privacy and Ethical Issues
  • Evidence and Proof
  • Finding Living People
  • Written Work Products
  • Courtroom Issues and Skills

The authors conclude with a seventeen-page glossary of terms, including definitions for ascendancy research, chain of title, exemplification, jus soli, microarray genotyping, quitclaim deed, stare decisis, etc.

For people who wish to establish careers as forensic genealogists, Forensic Genealogy: Theory & Practice is a must-have textbook. It is available in the NGS online store.

Price for NGS Members: $45.00
Price for Non-Members: $55.00

Lead Authors

Michael S. Ramage, JD, CGMichael S. Ramage, JD, CG, is a forensic genealogist, author, lecturer, and general counsel of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Ramage was the first president of the Association of Professional Genealogists’ Forensic Genealogy Special Interest Group (2020-2022). His twenty-five-year private law practice included contracts, realty, and estate law and litigation.

Catherine Becker Wiest Desmarais, CGCatherine Becker Wiest Desmarais, CG, is a forensic genealogist, author, educator, and trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. She and her team at Stone House Historical Research specialize in research for probate, real estate, and military repatriation cases. She coordinates and teaches popular forensic genealogy institute courses.