This page sets out our terms of business so that you know what to expect if you hire us.
Ethics and Privacy
We are a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and we have undertaken to abide by the APG’s Code of Ethics. We will keep confidential any information about living people or sensitive matters which are not already a matter of public record.
Hiring a Professional
The APG have produced a very helpful brochure called “Hiring a Professional,” which we hope will answer many of your questions and suggest ones you ought to ask us. This brochure may be downloaded as a PDF or viewed online.
Before starting research we will send you a draft research agreement for approval. The agreement will set out the objectives of the research, the number of hours you wish to authorize, terms of payment, the format and timeframe for reporting, and will include sections on ethics, privacy and copyright. Once you approve the research agreement, we will sign it electronically using Adobe EchoSign and send the agreement to you to do the same.
Avoiding Duplication of Information
We will spend some time with you before research begins, identifying what information you and your family already possess. It is important that you share everything you know at this stage. If you do not and we end up researching things you already know, it will be a waste of time and money.
It is impossible to predict in advance whether research will produce the desired results. Because we put in the time and effort to do the research, we have to charge for time spent on research, even if it draws a blank. However, we will always try to keep time spent on unproductive research to an absolute minimum. Rather than proceed, we will stop work and report back to you to explain the problem and receive further instructions.
Family history research is not for the easily shocked. If you are not prepared to uncover uncomfortable or embarassing information about your ancestors than it is best not to start researching them. The APG Code of Ethics requires us to “refrain from withholding, supressing, or knowingly misquoting or misinterpreting sources or data,” so if we find such information when researching, we must report it to you.
All factual information in our research reports can be freely used but, under American law, copyright in the research report as a whole belongs to the author. We are happy for clients to share our reports privately but do ask that you seek the author’s agreement if you wish to publish what we have written. Custom charts that we may provide are also copyrighted. Again, the facts included in the charts can be shared freely but the look and design of the charts belong to us.
We ask this to protect our intellectual property, the way in which we have conducted our research, the discoveries we have made and how we have structured our analysis and arguments. Without copyright someone could pass off our work as their own and take credit that rightfully belongs to us. They could also benefit financially from our work by reselling it in printed or digital form.
Copyright protects our professional reputation. Without it, someone could publish our work in a truncated, altered or misleading form, while attribuiting it to us. Others might then judge us to be poor researchers on the basis of what we had supposedly written.
We usually request a 50% retainer before work begins. Our preferred method of payment is by personal check drawn in US dollars, make checks payable to Old Bones Genealogy and mail to:
Old Bones Genealogy
1213 Liberty Road, Suite 264
Eldersburg, MD 21784
We ask our overseas clients to pay by PayPal, which handles all monetary conversions for us. Any others who wish to pay by PayPal, please send us an email and we will send you an invoice with a link to the company PayPal account for payment.