Nine Questions with Molly Kennedy

Posted On: January 18th, 2010 | Posted by: Dean

When my wife and I first sketched out what we wanted Genlighten to become, our “target provider” — the prototype for the kind of person we hoped to recruit to retrieve and digitize records — was Molly Kennedy. Molly’s been offering reliable, reasonably-priced Illinois genealogy lookups  to satisfied customers for quite a while. We’re thrilled to have her as a provider on Genlighten, and we’re pleased to be able to spotlight her this week.


From MollyKennedy’s profile

Molly specializes in Illinois-based genealogical and historical research for hobbyists, heir-locator services, and authors.

Nine Questions with Molly

1)      How did you get started doing genealogy lookups/research?

Like most others, I imagine, I started researching my own family lines. In the late 1990′s through 2002 I was a volunteer for Random Acts, and I learned so much more about the different types of records available to me here in the Springfield Illinois area.

2)      Do you have a genealogy superpower? If so, what is it?

I have a form of eiditic memory — not for faces, nor names (although that would have saved me in many a social situation~) — but for the printed word, dates and numbers (such as Census findings).

3)      Describe a tricky research problem you’re particularly proud of having solved?

Finding birth-families of adoptees… 13 so far – using public records.  In most states, adoptive records are sealed in perpetuity, but usually there’s a clue or two that can be tracked using public records.

4)      What are the ideal elements you like to see in a well-formulated lookup request/research query?

It’s difficult to answer this question..   For efficiency, brevity is always good~  However, a lengthier description is often necessary, especially if the requester is unsure as to what types of records might be available to me.  Open communication is very important, so I don’t end up duplicating their own research efforts.

5)      What’s the most interesting record source or repository you’ve utilized in your area?

For facts – statistics – names & dates, I’d have to say the Illinois State Archives.

Once armed with the names, dates & locales, I’m then able to find & read news stories about these people & places & times, in microfilmed newspaper holdings of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.  Reading about them ”puts flesh on the bones” (little genealogical humor~)

6)      What technical tools (hardware, software) do you use to produce the digital images you provide to clients?

Desktop PC using Windows XP; LexMark scanner/copier/printer; Kodak digital camera.

7)      Any new lookups you’re considering offering?

Considering adding to my Genlighten offerings, the ”Fishing Expedition” option.

“Fishing” = a small (i.e., “not found”) fee, for each IL death certificate (1916-1947) that I would check, but NOT print, if the info on the death cert does not match the info provided me.  If the right certificate is found, the regular “Found” fee would apply to that cert.

Very helpful & affordable, when the requester is trying to find an ancestor with a common name, i.e., members of a Smith family in Chicago~

8)      What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started as a lookup provider?

Learn EVERYTHING you can about access to the records in your area!  The biggest questions in genealogy are: ”Who’s got the records?”  “Where are the records?” and “How can I get copies?”   Sign up as a lookup volunteer, if still in the learning process.

9)      What other passions do you pursue when you’re not at the archives doing lookups/research?

Family, puzzles & reading (mostly detective/forensic fiction).

Lookups MollyKennedy offers:

Molly can retrieve death certificates for any Illinois county (for the years 1916-1947). She can also do Illinois obituary research at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum from over 5,000 Illinois-published newspapers.

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