Friday, April 09, 2010

Beware the Family Tree? Hide the Skeleton or Not....

Hello All -

In today's UK Daily Mail there is an interesting article on finding those skeletons and unknown unpleasant facts about our ancestors lives in the family tree. You can read the full article here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1264659/Beware-family-tree-You-lift-lid-things-youd-know.html

The fact of doing genealogy and family history is that it might uncover some unfavourable things about an ancestor's life. There is no need to hide it in my opinion. A person today cannot be responsible for what a person did years ago or many decades ago. An ancestor in the family that may have done a "bad" thing in their life is part of the history of the family.

I do understand that there are things that someone may have done that is quite shameful and embarrassing to other members of the family. It is up to your own judgement and personal discretion on whether it is out in the open or not. However, when performing research on the family and some bad things come to be discovered they shouldn't be swept under the rug and ignored - it has to be factual family history research. Dicretion and delicate handling of such information should be considered when writing up the family history book for others to read. If grandpa had an extra-marital affair with the woman next door, there is a way of presenting such information in a family history without being too confrontational or upsetting to others that may read the book. There is Sharon DeBartolo Carmack's book "You Can Write Your Family History" that has a good section about dealing with sensitive issues and how to write it in a narrative.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have experienced this, firsthand! Though some of the discoveries were hard, at first, I am glad to have made them. It helped me understand those family members (and their descendants) better, and shed some light on why my great-grandparents left Scotland.