Nichelle Witherell Barra

ProGen Member Overview

Nichelle Barra grew up in Michigan, but has lived all over the United States: Florida, Indiana, Utah, and Colorado. She loved hearing the stories of her ancestors at her grandmother’s knee, which created a love of history and led to her path as a history major at Central Michigan University. Her family has deep roots in Michigan (with some families living in the same area for over 150 years), with ancestors from New York, New England, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Canada, England, Germany, and Poland. Her research focuses in the Midwest and New England, general US genealogy, and she uses genetic genealogy to help solve tougher genealogical problems.

Nichelle currently works at AncestryProGenealogists, as a research manager where she focuses on using genetic genealogy and documentary research to help clients with identifying unknown grandparents or great-grandparents. Before coming to AncestryProGenealogists, she had her own genealogy business called Copper Leaf Genealogy, where she took on clients, presented to local groups, and taught beginner genealogy classes. Her previous career as a teacher made this a natural progression and one she greatly enjoys. She earned her Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in 2014 and attends many institutes to continuously hone her skills.


National Genealogical Society's Home Study Course
Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in 2014
ProGen 25
GRIP - Practical Genetic Genealogy July 2017
SLIG Academy - DNA and the 21st Century Professional 2019
Gen-Fed 2019
SLIG - Corpus Juris - Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogy


Nichelle has worked on her own family history since 2000 and began her own business in 2014 called Copper Leaf Genealogy while in Indiana, and then moved the company to Colorado in 2016. She joined Ancestry ProGenealogists in 2018 and is currently a research manager with them.