Those of us who make our living at this business should care. Increasingly, as the recording of personal histories becomes more commonplace, our clients are going to want to know about our credentials and track record. They’re going to expect professionalism. And given that our profession is still unregulated, it’s up to each of us to ensure that our work meets professional standards. So what are the criteria for being a professional personal historian? Here’s my checklist. Would you agree?
- Belonging to an association of peers such as the Association of Personal Historians that encourages and fosters professionalism and ethical standards.
- Abiding by your association’s code of ethics.
- Actively contributing to the ongoing development of the profession.
- Having a body of work that demonstrates your skill and ability to deliver a personal history project.
- Setting fees that are not consistently below the “going” rate. There isn’t an established fee structure but it’s possible to acquire a good sense of what personal historians are charging.
- Working full time as a personal historian.
- Seeking opportunities for further professional development.
- Requiring clients to sign written contracts and agreements for your services.
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