Monday, October 22, 2018

Thoughts About Genealogy -- How Much is Enough?

 I dabble in all sorts of things, none of it very well but I am diligent.  One of my pursuits has been my working on my family tree. 

Family history has always been a popular "thing" in my father's side of the family.  The family was fairly historic and it was something the family was very proud of.  There really wasn't a whole lot of research to do as it was pretty much already done, I just had to add to it a bit.

My mother's side was a different story and back in the late 80's she decided she would like to know more about her family so off I go to "discover" her roots.

It hasn't been easy but with I knew a few snippets of information and with the help of some distant cousins I learned a bit more and was gifted with some old photos.

The person I started with was my great-grandmother who was born in Cinderford, Gloucestershire, England.  She moved with her family to Wales when she was about 9 years old and then, as an adult with children of her own she immigrated to the US.  My grandmother lived with my g-grandmother at one time and she told me a few things about her.

The one thing that I learned about my great-grandmother (she had a  name, it was Dinah) was that she was very religious and refused to be photographed.  So, you can imagine how surprised I was when my cousin sent me three photos of great-grandmother Dinah.   Well, I felt I had to share with other members of the family.

So, long story short Dinah has been copied, mailed, emailed, put on Ancestry.com and put on facebook and I can honestly say I feel awful about it.  We all wanted to know our foremother but have we all been terribly disrespectful of her wishes and beliefs? 

I feel she would be appalled at the whole thing if she knew and she would probably hate us all! 

So, how far is too far to go with genealogy?  At what point does the research and sharing become an invasion of privacy? If the person is deceased does it really matter anymore?  I worry about things like this.

Personally, in the case of Dinah, I think we have overstepped the line. 

2 comments:

Frugally challenged said...

But maybe not. It wasn't that uncommon to be very private (modest?) in those days but maybe she would have changed a little as time passed.

Think of it this way, wouldn't she have been interested to know how her descendants have gone on in the world? She'd want to know what you all look like, where you have gone, whom you have married. And she would be proud to be part of that great tapestry, a real part, not just a shadowy date-of-birth-to-date-of-death.

Boyett-Brinkley said...

I like the way you think! I would like to think that she would really be pleased with our efforts to get to know her -- in spite of the photo situation. You know, when I started my
family history journey, I started with her. I knew she was a feisty lady and very small but only in stature. The first piece of documentation I ever received was her death certificate and I can't even explain the feeling I had when I opened that envelope. It was like she was there with me -- it made her real. I hope she would be glad that we really wanted to know her as best we could after the fact. She seemed so long ago and far away but the reality is she passed away only 13 years before I was born. She was not a particularly old lady even though the photo would say otherwise and if she had not gotten sick, it is conceiveable that I could have known her -- I knew another great-grandmother quite well. I think about that often, as well, that she wasn't some ancestor from some ancient time -- I could have actually met her and that sort of blows me away.