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Hiring a Professional

(Click here for .pdf version)

If you...

Are an attorney who needs assistance in locating heirs to settle an estate...

Are a family historian and need assistance in solving a difficult research question or deciding the best plan for research...

Want to join a lineage society such as the Colonial Dames or Daughters of the American Revolution and you need help with your society application...

Need someone to translate foreign genealogy or other historical records...

Want a website for your family but dont know where to begin...

Need someone to organize documents and photos or plan a family reunion...

Need a speaker for a society meeting or community program...

Are looking for someone to edit or publish your genealogy manuscript...

Dont know where to start...

...then the Association of Professional Genealogists can help!

What to Expect

Every genealogy project is unique. APG members, representing a broad range of expertise and specialization, can meet the challenges of diverse clients.

By visiting our website, you can search the directory by specialty, geographic area or member name. You can review members' biographies and evaluate how their experience might relate to your project.

The following points will give you an idea of what to expect when contracting a genealogical project with a professional.

Most professional genealogists charge an hourly rate for research, lectures, or other work. Under some circumstances, however, the professional may quote you a flat rate for your project.

Hourly rates vary widely depending on scope of work, average industry wages, and business expenses such as licensing, insurance, and general overhead. In addition to hourly rates, many types of genealogical work incur associated fees such as travel expenses, copy or microfilm reproduction charges, and postage. Ask your professional to explain all charges and establish a project budget. Expect to pay a retainer.

A professional should make no guarantee about finding the information you seek, and cannot predict the time it will take to prove relationships or discover details you need. It is important to re-member that you will be paying the professional for his or her time and expertise.

Hiring a Professional

  1. Ask for a letter of agreement between you and the researcher before any money is exchanged or work is performed.
  2. Insist that the letter describe the following points.
    • Scope of work to be performed
    • Hours to be worked for you with some pro-vision for time extensions under specified circumstances
    • Fees to be charged for various activities
    • Explanation of what the retainer covers and how it will be applied toward final payment
    • Provision for research to extend past terms of initial agreement and how additional authorizations are to be put in writing
  3. The agreement should identify who holds the copyright to the written research reports. Your researcher probably will retain that right. This means you cannot publish the report without the researcher’s permission.
  4. If your researcher is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and you believe he or she has not worked within the Code of Ethics (printed to the right), you can file a grievance with the organization. APG will work with you and the professional to mediate the disagreement.

Code of Ethics

Ethical conduct is extremely important to members of the Association of Professional Genealogists. Every member of APG signs a code of professional ethics, stating that the professional will:

Clients can count on APG professional genealogists to give them high-quality services, and to produce high-quality results.

View the full Code of Ethics and information about the Professional Review Committee.

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