Showing posts with label family historian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family historian. Show all posts

Friday, May 4, 2018

Do the "Write" Thing for Genealogy: Be Honest, Be Ethical


As family historians, how can we write about ancestors in a way that is both honest and ethical?

After all, every family has a secret or a story that the current generation knows nothing about. Maybe an ancestor hid an early marriage or had some other hidden relationship . . . or committed a crime . . . or behaved in a manner considered, then or now, to be shameful or questionable or downright wicked.

Our genealogy research can turn up things that families never expected would be known. Especially if we want people to share stories and documents with us, I believe we have an obligation to use that information in a responsible way. It's a balancing act between the honesty we genealogists owe to future generations and the ethical responsibility we owe to those living today.

My personal approach is: If disclosing something about an ancestor would be truly harmful to someone living today, I don't write about it, either on my blog or in any "public" family history.

This has been a real issue only once in my 20 years of genealogy research. In that instance, I put the information into my private genealogy files so the story won't be lost forever. This allows me to be honest with future generations and act responsibly by avoiding potential damage today.

My "genealogical will" leaves my files to relatives who will safeguard them for the sake of descendants. Years from now, when these genealogical heirs sift through the files, they can weigh the consequences of disclosure in light of how much time has passed and whether anyone would be harmed if the story is told then, not now.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts on this delicate balancing act.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

YOU Are Part of Your Family's History

Remember that YOU, the family's historian, are an integral part of your family's history. As much fun and as rewarding as it is to research the family's past, it's also important to record the family's present-day doings for yourself and for future generations. There are so many ways to do this. Let me share two of my favorites.

Every year, I create one or more photo books showing family gatherings, travels, and other adventures that my hubby Wally and I have had. This has been my tradition for more than a decade. I also make individual photo books for special events like a big birthday or a wedding in the family.

My preference is to capture each year in photos chronologically. I explain where we are and who we're with, including detailed captions so that our descendants will be able to identify family members and friends.

One more tradition, for the past dozen years, is slotting old and new family photos into a calendar to give to close relatives. We designate each person's birthdate on the calendar with a head shot, as well as marking anniversaries with couples' photos. We also remember loved ones who are no longer with us, by including their faces among the calendar photos.

This calendar is so eagerly awaited and treasured that someone from the next generation volunteered to take over the creative duties last year. She decided there wasn't enough room for photos so she chose a larger format for the 2018 calendar and included even more photos of ancestors! Lucky me to have so many hands helping to share the family's past and present.