To begin your family history research properly, I need to know what you already know. It seems obvious, but if you don't tell me what you've already done and/or already know about your family I might duplicate your work—and you might feel like that was a waste of your money.
I recommend you fill out this form when inquiring about family history research. I'll review it, and then I'll put together a recommended scope of work based on your desired outcomes.
When we agree on the scope of work, I'll send you a retainer agreement and invoice for a 50% retainer. (I require a retainer now because a client burned me for $4,000 dollars once, and it hurt.) You can pay by check or PayPal.
Depending on how busy I am, it usually takes about 4-6 weeks to get a 20 hour project turned around. I may contact you to request clarification and/or additional information throughout the project.
When your project is ready, I'll notify you and send an invoice for the balance of the project plus expenses.* As soon as I receive the balance due, I'll mail a hard copy of your report and also post an electronic version you can review right away.
At a minimum, you'll receive a written report detailing the sources searched and outcomes of the scope of work we agreed on. I'll include a list of the sources I used, with notes about their usefulness at the time. You'll also receive a copy of all helpful documents, a pedigree chart, and a family group sheet.
Take a look at a sample project, standard pedigree chart, and family group sheet below.
You also have the option to make a wall chart, photo book, and/or family history book you can share with other family members. (Additional costs apply)
Optional wall chart (horizontal style shown)
Gather any background information you can from relatives or from documents you may have in your possession.
Obituaries, newspaper clippings, birth, marriage, and death certificates are all especially helpful.
Fill out the Family History Inquiry form and send it to me. I'll review it and send you a propsed scope of work.
Approve the scope of work, sign the client retainer agreement, and put down a 50% retainer. I'll get started on your project as soon as possible.
Most projects don't require travel, and only incur about $25-$50 in expenses. These out-of-pocket costs are for photocopies, certificates, postage, etc. If a project looks like it will require more than $50 in expenses, I'll get your permission before incurring the cost.
I do most of my work from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I don't charge for travel to the library, meals, or parking in Salt Lake.
If your project cannot be completed from Salt Lake, we'll discuss options for accomplishing the research objectives. Sometimes we can find a local researcher who can handle the job; somtimes not. If we, together, decide your project justifies travel, I'll issue a second scope of work detailing the anticipated travel expenses, which you will need to approve. A second retainer will be required for the entire anticipated expense. Travel expenses include airfare, car rental, accommodations, and a $35-$50 per-diem for meals depending on the location. Travel costs are in addition to out-of-pocket costs for parking, tolls, copies, etc. If I have multiple clients who authorize travel to the same location, I divide travel costs equally among them. So, I may contact you in the future to ask if you would like to be considered for a group location.
I put your report, documents, pedigree chart(s), and family group sheets in a nice binder and mail it to you when the project is finished.
Your report binder includes standard black and white pedigree charts, like this one. Only direct-line ancestors are shown on a pedigree chart.
Due to a pressing schedule, I don't usually do document retrieval from the Family History Library myself anymore.
(I discovered that it costs me more in travel and parking—aside from opportunity cost when I'm working on other things—than most people want to pay for one document.)
But if I'm at the library anyway, I'm happy to do it. I also know people who can grab stuff for me.
So, if you need something from the Family History Library fill out a document request form and I'll let you know how long it would take.
(Usually somebody can do it within 1-2 business days)
© Copyright 2014 Heather Henderson
Designed by me with Twitter Bootstrap. The site itself took about 10 hours. The content is the product of 20 years' experience.