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What is your process?

(For questions about house histories, click here.)

During an initial consultation by phone, email, or in person, I will find out from you what you would like to accomplish and where you are in the development of your project. You can help make the most of our collaboration by making an inventory of lines of investigation you have already followed and prioritizing what you would like me to work on.

Following our initial consultation, I will prepare a proposal specifying the work to be undertaken, with tentative research agenda (since this may need to change as we discover things), and a not-to-exceed price for an initial phase of work. A depost of 50% of the cost of the initial phase of work is due with the signed agreement before I begin work on your project. At this stage, we will also schedule a date for a mid-stream check-in, when I will report to you on my preliminary findings and we can refocus the work as necessary.

If you have ongoing research needs after our initial contract is over, I am happy to continue with further research on an hourly basis, subject to your budget and deadlines.

How long does a research project take?

That will vary, depending on the scope of your project. During our initial consultation, I will be able to let you know how long it should take to deliver results, given the number of other commitments I have. I expect to be able to schedule the initial phases of most projects to be completed within a 6- to 8-week window. If you have a research query of finite scope and a short deadline, I may well be able to fit you in between more extensive projects. If you have a more open-ended research agenda, we will agree on a finite number of hours' research and a window for delivery of initial results, and then we have the option of agreeing to further work as your needs and budget allow.

How much do you charge?

My basic rate for research, writing, and consulting is $75/hour. Work that is primarily editorial is $50/hour. An initial consultation, including a detailed consultation about your project's needs, is always free.

What libraries and archives do you work in?

I can undertake research on your behalf in the many libraries in the Washington, D.C. area, including but not limited to:

  • The Library of Congress
  • The National Library of Medicine
  • Dumbarton Oaks
  • Smithsonian Libraries
  • D.C. Public Library, including Washingtoniana Division collections
  • University libraries, including Marylandia and National Trust for Historic Preservation collections at the University of Maryland
  • Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
  • Library of the Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Archives of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and the National Cathedral
  • Libraries of the Washington Theological Union
  • Archives held in many small museums and historical organizations

For open-ended or more complex research projects, a significant service I provide is knowledge of what collections will best serve the needs of the project and how best to access the relevant materials. Many projects will involve significant use of online manuscript collections and databases, such the digitization projects of the major European libraries for manuscripts and early printed books; Early English Books Online; historic newspaper collections; census records; specialized text corpora; and bibliographic databases. I use online sources to bring you maximum results in the shortest time possible; to provide you access to high-quality digital facsimiles at minimal cost; and to strategize about the best use of time when visiting libraries and archives in person.

Do you do research in the National Archives? What about genealogical research?

I am happy to undertake research at the National Archives or to carry out genealogical research as part of a larger project. However, if your primary need is for genealogical or military record searches and document retrieval, experts in those areas can probably find what you need at lower cost. I am happy to provide referrals to the appropriate specialist researchers.

Will you travel to collections outside the Washington area?

Travel to Baltimore libraries (Enoch Pratt Free Library, the George Peabody Library, the Walters Gallery, archives of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland) can be arranged with modest additional charges for travel. If your project involves travel to other locations, we can discuss the possibilities when we agree on the scope of work for your project.

What about confidentiality?

Your project, research agenda, and client relationship with me are completely confidential, unless you specifically authorize me to disclose some aspect of your project for particular purposes. I follow the American Library Association Code of Ethics in promising to "protect [your] right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted."