We continue to receive lots of email on the positive and negative aspects of sharing genealogical information. We’re wrapping up this topic (at least for now) in The Weekly Genealogist with just a few more reader comments.
Robert Snyder of Midland, Michigan:
I'd like to add my voice to those who, in spite of some negative events, have had mostly positive experiences with online contacts. A descendant of my great-grandmother's sister found me online a year ago. She had a family Bible, which unlocked a half-dozen thirty-year-old puzzles on my Rarick and Lake families. I've had many such serendipities over the years, and they far outweigh the handful of negatives. Online contacts are a huge boon to the genealogical community.
Karen Abel of Morgan Hill, California:
I would like to add my positive experience with sharing genealogical data. Yes, I get frustrated when I see my data, complete with exact notes, in someone else’s database. But that frustration is far outweighed by the positive side of having my data posted online. I have been contacted by countless cousins who have seen my data. This has led to sharing of information and the formation of new friendships. Several years ago, I was contacted by a very distant cousin in Germany. We not only shared our data, but we went on to do further research for one another. She went to the archives in Stuttgart and found ancestral information that I would never have had access to on my own – and thus provided me with some fascinating family history back to the 1400s and 1500s. I was finally able to meet her during a trip to Germany last August. My own experience has been that sharing data is well worth it.
Donald F. Nelson of Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts:
Last fall I received an email from a woman in Yorkshire, England, who had found me through an Ancestry.com tree. She asked whether I would like to receive digital copies of photographs of me and my family from the 1930s. I said yes, and when the photos arrived they were authentic and ones I’d never seen before. The woman from Yorkshire and I have figured out we are third cousins. Apparently, the photos were originally sent by my grandmother to some undetermined relative of my cousin. My cousin and I have been exchanging information on the Thackwrays of Yorkshire ever since. Only the web could lead to this.
Debbie from Connecticut:
How can you ensure your research is acknowledged? Is there any way other than asking the person you are sharing it with to make an acknowledgment? Is there some kind of accepted tradition/method/procedure amongst genealogists and family researchers to give credit to the researcher? Or do we only rely on the integrity of those we share with to acknowledge?
I'm quite curious as this is somewhat of a new notion to me, partly because I am just now at the point where I really have anything of value to share. I have shared tidbits here and there before and certainly have been the recipient of help from others, but have never given this concept much thought. I was somewhat taken aback by the number of negative experiences reported, but then last week I saw several photos which I had shared with a cousin now on display in her tree, with no acknowledgment of where she got them. Then I got a little taste of how some of these respondents felt! I'm not overly upset and I am still happy I shared them, but it would have been nice to be noted as the one who originally had the photos and found the corresponding information, some of which took years to dig up. I am certainly going to go back through my own records and make note of any information I received from others and give them credit, if I haven't already!
It seems that many of you still have plenty to say on genealogical sharing, and I encourage you to begin a conversation on the NEHGS Facebook page or in the General Genealogy section of the NEHGS Discussion Board.
A New Featured Blog
Our latest blog profile is by Diane Boumenot, who writes One Rhode Island Family. Here, Diane introduces herself and her blog:
I have been pursuing genealogy as a hobby for several years. I was surprised to discover that my mother's family was among the earliest settlers of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where I live. As I continue to learn and grow in this field, it has been wonderful to reach out for help and advice through my blog. I enjoy discussing the different research problems and puzzles that I encounter, or telling the amazing stories that my ancestors — just like everyone else's ancestors — left behind. My extended family enjoys reading the stories on my blog and sometimes new readers turn out to be descended from the same branches, and we can share information. Lastly, if a method or resource works well for me, I try to pass that knowledge on.
I have written two posts about visiting NEHGS: "What I saw at the NEHGS,” concerning my discovery that my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother had been crossed out of the family Bible, and "Got Some Help With My Tree,” about a wonderful research weekend.