Family history can start out as a hobby, but for some of us, it can turn into a more serious venture. We start out by helping others, then decide to try out hand at making some money by doing it more professionally. In reality, whether we do it as a hobby for ourselves, or professionally for others, the ethics, documentation, citations and reports should all be done in the same professional manner. Our families and friends should receive the same quality work that a professional gives to their clients.
There is an organization that can help you in this endeavor. The Association of Professional Genealogists is an independent organization whose principal purpose is to support professional genealogists in all phases of their work: from the amateur genealogist wishing to turn knowledge and skill into a vocation, to the experienced professional seeking to exchange ideas with colleagues and to upgrade the profession as a whole. The association also seeks to protect the interest of those engaging in the services of the professional. The organization is open to all members if they agree to follow their APG Code of Ethics. This code of ethics is also important to those of us looking to hire a genealogists to help us in our research. We would want to hire someone who is ethical in their work. By choosing a researcher from this website, hopefully we are choosing someone who is keeping up to date with the genealogical standards and ethical in their dealings with you.
From the APG website we find their objectives:
- To provide education and support for those engaged in genealogical business pursuits
- To engage in activities which improve access, facilitate research, and preserve records used in the fields of genealogy and local history
- To promote awareness of activities and/or laws which may affect genealogical and historical research
- To facilitate collaboration among members
- To promote professional standards in the field of genealogy
- To promote awareness of, and interest in, professional genealogical services.
- APG Quarterly
- Directory of Members
- Activities at National Conferences
- Discounts for APG Members
- Educational Brochures
- Members Only Members List
- Professional Development
- Professional Review
For those who are looking to hire a genealogist, this is a great place to choose a qualified, professional genealogist. You can choose a researcher by area or area of expertise. Their contact information will be listed so you can request more information from them and see if they are available to help you. While it does not happen often, there are those times conflicts may arise between a client and a genealogist. APG has a review board to help you resolve these conflicts in a professional, legal and ethical manner.
Personally, the reason I joined APG was the educational opportunities it offers its members. They host webinars on various topics from writing contracts, working with clients, citing your sources, how to be more professional, to many other topics that have helped me as I develop my business skills. Even if I were just doing genealogy for my own families, the skills I learned can be applied there as well. I feel it is an organization that works toward helping their members in education and professionalism, but at the same time making new friends and networking opportunities.
Disclaimer: I am a member of APG, on the APG Board and serve as President for the virtual chapter for the Second Life-APG chapter.