Sample Research Agreement

This is an example of the letter-format client agreement Lantern Genealogy typically requires before any research is begun. Agreements vary based on the specific parameters of each project

Dear Client:

You have asked me to undertake professional genealogical services for you, and have secured a spot on my waiting list with a non-refundable commitment deposit of $125. This letter, with the accompanying Scope of Services, describes the agreement between us regarding these services. If you agree with the terms, please sign both copies in the space provided at the end and return one to me.

To avoid being charged for duplicate work, please provide me with whatever material you already have on the person or family to be researched. This should include copies of reports or summaries of previous research touching on the problem, copies of significant records, and notes of sources or collections already searched.

Our agreement will become effective when I have received (a) that material; (b) a copy of this letter, with your signature accepting it; and (c) payment of a research retainer, equal to 50% of the agreed upon hours, less the $125 commitment deposit you have already paid. The work covered by this retainer includes a review and analysis of all prior research, and preparation of a research plan addressing your one, focused, research question, as outlined in the accompanying Scope of Services. If this review and planning takes less than the agreed upon hours, the balance of time will be spent on research. Out-of-pocket costs including but not limited to photocopies, postage and handling, repository entrance fees, travel and lodging (when reasonable, necessary and agreed upon in advance), database fees and the like, up to $50, will be billed separately and is due upon receipt. Expenses greater than $50 will be authorized, in advance, by you, in writing. Additional hours of research, as outlined in the research plan I prepare for you, will be billed at a rate of $50 per hour, in increments of no less than five hours.

I will perform this work as an independent contractor in accordance with prevailing professional standards in genealogy, including the Code of Ethics adopted by the Board for Certification of Genealogists, and the Standards recommended by the National Genealogical Society, copies of which can be provided to you at your request. You understand that I can make no guarantee regarding what information, if any, may be found, and that conclusions are based on weight of available evidence and that absolute proof of genealogical relationships is usually not possible.

After I have analyzed your problem, completed the initial research, and reached my conclusions, I will provide you with a summary report of my findings, along with suggestions for further research. Should you wish me to continue the research, it will be charged at the stated hourly rate, subject to your prior written consent, in increments of no less than five hours. Requests for additional work in access of ten hours will require a 50% advance deposit to initiate work. At the completion of the project, a fully documented, detailed report describing my findings and the basis for my conclusions, along with extracts or copies of all relevant documents, will be provided digitally and/or in print form upon receipt of payment in full.

I will hold confidential any information you provide that is not already a matter of public record or public knowledge. I will treat with discretion, even if they are already matters of public record, issues that concern living persons, their parents, or immediate families. Otherwise, I retain the right to make further use of the results of this work, including publication in articles or books, with acknowledgement of your sponsorship of the research, unless you request anonymity.

You agree that if you distribute to others or publish any information taken from my report, including my findings and conclusions, you will report them accurately, you will include any qualifiers (for example, the words probable or possible, when accompanying a conclusion), and you will credit my report as the source.

This letter and the accompanying Scope of Services reflect the full scope of our agreement and replace any earlier, tentative commitments made by either of us. Any changes will be effective only if they are also made in writing.

Thank you for this opportunity to be of service.