I am a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and adhere to 1) their professional code of ethics, 2) the professional standards and code of ethics of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, and 3) the standards recommended by the National Genealogical Society (NGS). All three sets of standards appear below.
Association of Professional Genealogists Code of Ethics
Click Here to view the official APG website.
As a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists I agree that professionalism in genealogy requires ethical conduct in all relationships with the present or potential genealogical community. I therefore agree to:
- Promote a coherent, truthful approach to genealogy, family history and local history.
- Present research results and opinions in a clear, well-organized manner; fully and accurately cite references; and refrain from withholding, suppressing, or knowingly misquoting or misinterpreting sources or data.
- Promote the trust and security of genealogical consumers.
- Advertise services and credentials honestly, avoiding the use of misleading or exaggerated representations; explain without concealment or misrepresentation all fees, charges, and payment structures; abide by agreements regarding project scope, number of hours, and deadlines and reporting schedules; keep adequate, accessible records of financial and project-specific contacts with the consumer; and refrain from knowingly violating or encouraging others to violate laws and regulations concerning copyright, right to privacy, business finances, or other pertinent subjects.
- Support initiatives that preserve public records and access to them.
- Be courteous to research facility personnel and treat records with care and respect; support efforts to locate, collect, and preserve the records by compiling, cataloging, reproducing, and indexing documents; refrain from mutilating, rearranging, or removing from their proper custodians printed, original, microfilmed, or electronic records.
- Promote the welfare of the genealogical community.
- Give proper credit to those who supply information and provide assistance; refrain from (or avoid) knowingly soliciting established clients of another researcher; encourage applicable education, accreditation, and certification; and refrain from public behavior, oral remarks or written communications that defame the profession, individual genealogists, or the Association of Professional Genealogists.
I am not a BCG Certified Genealogist (although that is my long-term goal). I am nevertheless committed to following their Code of Ethics and professional Standards of Conduct.
BCG Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct
As a practicing genealogist, mindful of responsibilities to the public, to the genealogical consumer, and to scholarship, I hereby pledge
- To strive for the highest level of truth and accuracy in all phases of my work;
- To act honorably toward other genealogists and toward the field as a whole;
- To adhere to the Board for Certification of Genealogists' Standards of Conduct;
(and, if engaged in research for others)
- To act in my client's best interests; and
- To protect my client's privacy.
To protect the public
- I will not publish or publicize as fact anything I know to be false, doubtful, or unproven; nor will I be a party, directly or indirectly, to such action by others.
- I will identify my sources for all information and cite only those I have personally used.
- I will quote sources precisely, avoiding any alterations that I do not clearly identify as editorial interpretations.
- I will present the purpose, practice, scope, and possibilities of genealogical research within a realistic framework.
- I will delineate my abilities, publications, and/or fees in a true and realistic fashion.
To protect the consumer (client or colleague)
- I will keep confidential any personal or genealogical information given to me, unless I receive written consent to the contrary.
- I will reveal to the consumer any personal or financial interests that might compromise my professional obligations.
- I will undertake paid research commissions only after a clear agreement as to scope and fee.
- I will, to the best of my abilities, address my research to the issue raised by the consumer and report to that question.
- I will seek from the consumer all prior information and documentation related to the research and will not knowingly repeat the work, as billable hours, without explanation as to good cause.
- I will furnish only facts I can substantiate with adequate documentation; and I will not withhold any data necessary for the consumer's purpose.
- If the research question involves analysis of data in order to establish a genealogical relationship or identity, I will report that the conclusions are based on the weight of the available evidence and that absolute proof of genealogical relationships is usually not possible.
- If I cannot resolve a research problem within the limitations of time or budget established by contract, I will explain the reasons why.
- If other feasible avenues are available, I will suggest them; but I will not misrepresent the possibilities of additional research.
- I will return any advance payment that exceeds the hours and expenses incurred.
- I will not publish or circulate research or reports to which the consumer has a proprietary right, without prior written consent of the consumer; I will observe these rights, whether my report was made directly to the consumer or to an employer or agent.
To protect the profession
- I will act, speak, and write in a manner I believe to be in the best interests of the profession and scholarship of genealogy.
- I will participate in exposing genealogical fraud; but I will not otherwise knowingly injure or attempt to injure the reputation, prospects, or practice of another genealogist.
- I will not attempt to supplant another genealogist already employed by a client or agency. I will substitute for another researcher only with specific, written consent of and instructions provided by the client or agency.
- I will not represent as my own the work of another. This includes works that are copyrighted, in the public domain, or unpublished. This pledge includes reports, lecture materials, audio/visual tapes, compiled records, and authored essays.
- I will not reproduce for public dissemination, in an oral or written fashion, the work of another genealogist, writer, or lecturer without that person's written consent. In citing another's work, I will give proper credit.
NGS Standards for Sound Genealogical Research
Remembering always that they are engaged in a quest for truth, family history researchers consistently—
* record the source for each item of information they collect.
* test every hypothesis or theory against credible evidence, and reject those that are not supported by the evidence.
* seek original records, or reproduced images of them when there is reasonable assurance they have not been altered, as the basis for their research conclusions.
* use compilations, communications and published works, whether paper or electronic, primarily for their value as guides to locating the original records, or as contributions to the critical analysis of the evidence discussed in them.
* state something as a fact only when it is supported by convincing evidence, and identify the evidence when communicating the fact to others.
* limit with words like "probable" or "possible" any statement that is based on less than convincing evidence, and state the reasons for concluding that it is probable or possible.
* avoid misleading other researchers by either intentionally or carelessly distributing or publishing inaccurate information.
* state carefully and honestly the results of their own research, and acknowledge all use of other researchers’ work.
* recognize the collegial nature of genealogical research by making their work available to others through publication, or by placing copies in appropriate libraries or repositories, and by welcoming critical comment.
* consider with open minds new evidence or the comments of others on their work and the conclusions they have reached.
© 1997, 2002 by National Genealogical Society. Permission is granted to copy or publish this.