What does a contract for genealogy services look like?

It is a requirement for the Client Report that you have a written contract.  This written contract is submittted with the resultant report.

I have written a lot of contracts in my life because of my background (architect) so this step was not intimidating to me.  I find it not worthwhile to try to write these from “scratch” and so I always use a template or some previous example.  The book Professional Genealogist has a couple of options, a formal contract and a letter type.  Both are acceptable.  Using the letter type, I wrote the contract between my friend and I.  The hardest part was putting into words the work that I was to do for my friend as her request was to “know more about Jens”.  Where to start and stop with that?  With an unknown client, I would have pinned them down to a greater level of specificity or time limit.  This scope of work was kept looser.

The letter also made reference to 2 different Codes of Ethics (APG & BCG) and one Standard (NGS).  I reread them all.

I do think it reasonable to do a little preliminary work to see what sort of records are “out there”.  For example, it is not reasonable to put a 10 hour timeline on tracing your “Martian alien” ancestor if there are no records available for Martians; it seems not fair to the client unless the client is aware of the limitations of records.

I admit that my work output is reduced right now as I am engrossed in the Ken Burn’s Prohibition series on Public Television.  An amazing work and so suitable for today.  The message at the end was loud and clear.

Happy hunting!


What I did today:  wrote the contract for the client work and did some on line work on Jens’s wife, Anna/Anne/Annie.  Found out she had 3 siblings, 2 sisters and 1 brother.  I can tell Jens is going to be harder to track down.


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