- Business Name
- Genes & Genealogy
- Non-Research Specialties
- Lecturer/Presenter - On-site
- Lecturer/Presenter - Virtual
- Oral Historian/Interviewer
- Research Specialties
- DNA Specialist
- Research Counties
- Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- City of Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
- Clackmannanshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- Dunbartonshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- East Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- East Dunbartonshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- East Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom
- East Renfrewshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- Edinburgh City, Scotland, United Kingdom
- Falkirk, Scotland, United Kingdom
- Glasgow City, Scotland, United Kingdom
- Inverclyde, Scotland, United Kingdom
- Lanarkshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- Midlothian, Scotland, United Kingdom
- North Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- North Lanarkshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- Renfrewshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- South Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- South Lanarkshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom
- Stirlingshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- West Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
- West Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom
- Research Provinces / States
- Scotland, United Kingdom
- Research Countries
- Great Britain
- New Zealand
- Northern Ireland
- United States
- Research Time Periods
- 19th Century
- 20th Century
- 21st Century
Michelle Leonard is a professional genealogist, DNA Detective, freelance researcher, speaker, author and historian. She has extensive experience both in the traditional and genetic genealogy spheres and runs her own genealogy and DNA consultancy business Genes & Genealogy. She specializes in the use of DNA testing for genealogical purposes and, in particular, solving all manner of unknown parentage and unknown ancestor mysteries using a combination of DNA results analysis and conventional research methodologies. Her business also focuses on utilizing DNA testing to verify and enhance family trees and the teaching of genetic genealogy techniques via a variety of mediums.
Additionally, she undertakes one-on-one and group DNA coaching sessions, DNA consultations, traditional family history research, living relative tracing, lecturing, the creation and teaching of DNA courses, podcasts, webinars, speaking engagements, media consultation, historical and television research, bespoke family history books, and article, blog and book writing commissions.
Michelle has been a leading member of the international genetic genealogy community for many years and is widely regarded as one of the UK's most experienced DNA detectives. As a pioneer in the field, she has a wealth of practical experience in adoption, unknown parentage, misattributed parentage (MPEs/NPEs), foundling and more distant unknown ancestor cases and a proven track record of combining DNA and traditional genealogy to solve previously unfathomable mysteries that paper records never could. Michelle has worked on many hundreds of DNA cases and has a high success rate.
Her first involvement with using DNA for genealogical purposes came over a decade ago when she spent several years working on the ground-breaking Fromelles Genealogy Project tracking down appropriate DNA donors to identify WWI soldiers buried in a mass grave in Northern France. She also served as the Genealogical Consultant on the official Fromelles documentary "WW1: Finding The Lost Battalions".
She is also a co-author of "Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA: A Guide For Family Historians" published by Pen & Sword in June 2019 and regularly contributes articles to publications such as Family Tree Magazine (UK) for whom she has also written a 52-page 'DNA Workbook' to accompany her 'DNA Bootcamp' courses.
Michelle is a very experienced public speaker and lecturer. She regularly speaks, both in person and virtually, at major genealogy events such as Rootstech, Family Tree Live, The Genealogy Show, Who Do You Think You Are? Live and Genetic Genealogy Ireland. She also speaks for global audiences virtually via webinars and e-conferences for established providers such as Legacy Family Tree Webinars and she regularly gives virtual presentations for family history societies and groups around the world.
Additionally, Michelle is the official genetic genealogist of ancestryhour.co.uk and is one of the hosts of the hour itself: #AncestryHour takes place on Twitter each Tuesday evening from 7-8pm GMT and Michelle is usually on hand to answer #DNA queries that arise.
Michelle holds an M.A. in English and Modern History from the University of St Andrews and a PgCert in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies from the University of Strathclyde. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the Scottish Genealogy Network (SGN) and the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG).
Family history is Michelle's passion in life and she loves helping people solve DNA mysteries and uncover more about their ancestors and heritage.
Michelle offers a wide range of DNA and genealogical research services and accepts clients on a global basis. She has worked on and solved a large number of UK, Ireland, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand based DNA mystery cases.
If you are looking for an experienced DNA specialist, Michelle's services are specially tailored to the individual client's needs and what will work best for their particular case. She offers comprehensive and shorter DNA evaluations during which she undertakes detailed DNA detective work on the case, a DNA conclusions review service for those who wish an expert to check their conclusions, one-on-one consultations, DNA coaching sessions and DNA and traditional research at an hourly rate in blocks so there is never anything open-ended. She accepts adoption, unknown parentage, NPE/MPE, illegitimacy, foundling and more distant unknown ancestor mystery cases.
She can also provide analysis of autosomal DNA results and tuition on how best to work with them; She offers online mentoring sessions on DNA and Genealogy topics on a one-on-one or group basis.
Michelle has a vast amount of experience in the world of DNA and genealogy education. She creates and teaches DNA courses on a regular basis and the most well-known of these are her eight-week intensive DNA Bootcamps and two-week Masterclass courses for Family Tree Magazine (UK). If you would like to join one of Michelle's Bootcamp courses, keep an eye on her social media feeds for date announcements. The next 'Original' Bootcamp' will begin on 27th Sep 2023.
Michelle is a very experienced public speaker and lecturer and is happy to accept commissions to speak, in person or virtually, on a number of different topics most particularly DNA testing for genealogy, Scottish genealogy research and the Fromelles Genealogy Project. Michelle is also an experienced webinar presenter and happy to take on webinar and online conference and workshop commissions. She has an extensive list of lectures she can offer to societies, groups, conferences and genealogy education providers. Please contact Michelle directly if you would like to book her as a speaker for your group or event.
Michelle is also a freelance book, article and blog writer and welcomes commissions to write articles for family history or historical publications and websites.
As an experienced author Michelle also offers bespoke personalized family history books - she can write up entire family histories and create detailed professionally printed books your family will treasure. She has created everything from short 20 page booklets containing just basic information all the way through to 300 page deluxe full histories.
If you are looking for traditional genealogical assistance, Michelle also has a great deal of experience in this field and her specialisms are Scottish, English/Welsh, Northern Irish and Irish family history research. She can compile family trees, assist with brick walls and carry out archival research; She is based in Glasgow, Scotland and ideally situated to access records in Archives in Glasgow, Edinburgh and the surrounding areas.
Michelle also offers a family tree review service; it is always a good idea to have a second set of eyes evaluate your work and with this service you get a professional genealogist checking you are on the right track and giving you hints and tips on how best to improve your tree.
Additionally, Michelle is a living relative specialist and offers a tracing service; she is registered with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) as a data controller under the Data Protection Act 1998 (Registration Number ZA256420).
WW1 Soldier Research:
As a result of her work on the 'Fromelles Genealogy Project' and other military cases, Michelle has considerable experience in regards to tracing the families of soldiers for DNA identification purposes and regularly works on new WW1 and WW2 soldier cases when new battlefield remains are uncovered.
Michelle offers media consultation services for print, radio and television as a DNA genealogy specialist and research and consultation services for documentaries and television dramas.
Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland
- PgCert from The University of Strathclyde (Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies)
M.A. from The University of St Andrews (English & Modern History)
- Glasgow City Archives (The Mitchell Library)
National Archives of Scotland
Local Archives in Scotland
- A selection of testimonials (originals are viewable on my business Facebook page and LinkedIn profile):
"Michelle Leonard is a highly skilled DNA specialist and genealogist who successfully identified who my birth-father was, based on my DNA matches. Without her skill and abilities, I would not have been able to find who my birth-father was. Michelle was able to sift through the many DNA matches I had, identify common surnames and the links between them, and narrow down the list to one particular individual. Her work is truly impressive and I would wholeheartedly recommend her to anyone who is looking for a real, true DNA Detective. She is amazing!" - Paul H (LinkedIn)
"Michelle has recently solved a DNA mystery for me. It was a very sensitive issue and one that Michelle dealt with in a compassionate and sympathetic way. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Michelle, she s thorough and has an absolute passion for her work. Thanks so much again Michelle xx" - Pat M (Facebook)
'Michelle has completed, in an extraordinarily short space of time, a search for my mothers biological father. Mum was adopted at birth and has never known her fathers name, only that he was an American.
Michelle's excellent research on Mums behalf, has achieved closure to a blank in her genetics, that has frustrated her all of her life.
We would highly recommend Michelle, she is undoubtedly a very skilled and knowledgeable young woman, who goes that extra mile to achieve a positive result.
Our heartfelt thanks Michelle.' - Ashley H (LinkedIn)
"Michelle is incredibly professional, experienced and insightful. She helped me with my search and very quickly got to the answer I was looking for. I wish I had found her 10 year ago :-) Thanks Michelle" - Kevin W (LinkedIn)
"After 2 years of futile DNA analysis I gave up in frustration and hired Michelle to determine the parents of a deceased adopted relative. I am happy to say it was money VERY well spent. I am in Canada and Michelle in Scotland but the whole interaction from beginning to end was well organized and couldn’t have gone more smoothly. I can’t say enough about Michelle’s DNA expertise, research and communication skills. The one-on-one hour consultation via Zoom, follow-up summary email and Ancestry tree are invaluable to me. She is amazing, I highly recommend her and as some else said on her facebook page, she is a true DNA detective" - Sheila W (Facebook)
'I couldn’t be happier with the service I received from Michelle. She was the voice of calm and reason when I was frustrated with the search for my unknown grandfather. Michelle surpassed expectations with her knowledge and approachability. I truly believe that I wouldn’t have had a positive outcome in my search without her help and guidance. Being able to pay for a number of hours as required was also helpful. I couldn’t recommend Michelle more highly!' - Juliet S (Facebook)
'I highly recommend Michelle of Genes & Genealogy!! Our family history was a complete web and with great care she managed to untangle it and provide me with answers that have been missing my entire life. I cannot say enough about her professionalism, empathy, sheer determinedness to resolve our crazy family dynamics. I will be forever grateful and will ALWAYS recommend her!!' - Keri F (Facebook)
'As a layperson, I had reached the limit of what I could do in researching a family mystery through DNA results so looked for a genealogist to help. I chose Michelle because, not only were her credentials impressive, but she also appeared to care about the human side of the work she does. I gave her the details of my brick wall and asked her to find out just enough for me to carry on the work myself. She knew exactly where to stop so I could have the satisfaction of taking the next step myself and her work for me followed this pattern until, to my amazement, the mystery was solved – a missing father was identified , even though we knew no details of him whatsoever and had only the DNA of a daughter and a maternal cousin to work with. Contacting the living relatives was a sensitive task which I was nervous of taking on so asked Michelle to do it. She did this with such tact and clarity that we were accepted and welcomed into our "new" branch of the family.
I cannot recommend Michelle highly enough: she tailored her work exactly to my requirements, was totally professional, but approachable and friendly too, taking a genuine interest in my concerns. I was able to buy the service in affordable chunks of Michelle’s time and the amount of information she uncovered in a few hours then delivered via recorded Zoom sessions was impressive.
As I wrote to Michelle at the end of the job, “I am in awe of your detective skills, but also your tact and empathy in dealing with delicate issues.” - Claire B (LinkedIn)
'Michelle has just been amazing, solved mysteries we had almost given up on, so lovely and easy to talk to, she really empathised with our excitement, and went over and above in helping us make sense of it all. Also so efficient, years of effort solved in one appointment. Can’t say thankyou or recommend enough x x' - Carina E (Facebook)
- Michelle has over 25 webinars in the Legacy Family Tree webinars library (a mixture of long and short form):
- 'Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA: A Guide for Family Historians' - co-author (released June 2019)
‘DNA Workbook’ for Family Tree Magazine (a 52-page DNA guide written to accompany my original eight week DNA Bootcamp course but it can also be bought standalone) https://www.family-tree.co.uk/store/genealogy-tools/family-tree-magazine/dna-workbook
‘An empirical investigation into the effectiveness of genetic genealogy to identify individuals in the UK’ – a study undertaken with several colleagues which resulted in this peer-reviewed paper published in FSI Genetics:
I have also written a large number of articles and blog posts. Here is a small selection of links to ones readily available online:
- Certificate in Genealogical, Palaeographic & Heraldic Studies (Strathclyde)
- International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG)
Scottish Genealogy Network (SGN)
- Blog link
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