How do we define sensitive subjects and the feelings these subjects generate that make us want to keep our heads in the sand?
How can we hope for any change in those “gray areas” when we are doing our Family History, when some individuals are superb at many diversionary tactics that will make it difficult for some to find out what the real facts are?
Nothing sparks a family argument faster or gets people more heated than the two basic evils: Democrats and Republicans 😉 … Okay, seriously in most families it’s always been religion, politics and differences of opinions over family history that will spark the points of contention. So the question is how do you keep all the different family members working to find a common and acceptable agreement when we seem to always collide over any one of these subjects?
Everyone who does any genealogy loves to brag about their famous ancestors they find in their family tree and for the most part that is a good thing. On the other side of that coin are those who happen to find the “Hitler’s” that are in their family tree which makes them want to hide and never talk about those dirty and sometimes shady parts of their family history . Though out history it has been shown that many have gone to great lengths to keep their embarrassing family “secrets” buried and hidden even to the point of destroying any documents that would tell of anything that was not wanted to be known publicly. This Makes doing genealogy difficult if not impossible for those in that family blood line to sort out their family history when there is big gaps that have been changed or erased all together. Anything that went against the “Norm” of society was just not talked about or it was covered over. In some cases an account of something shady might have been written down in one family members account but the same thing was either changed or deleted from another’s. Areas such as criminals with jail time, children born out of marriage, maybe even having members of the family in radical groups, like the SS or KKK were some of the sore spots. Then there are other tender subjects we come across in our family research, things like suicides, mental illness, homosexual relationships, domestic abuse, or alcohol and drug abuse, polygamy or interracial marriages to just name a few of those “Taboo” subjects that in some accounts were avoided or recorded differently than what really happen but none the less they were still a part of those families history.
While I am sure that there are areas, which no matter what a person’s beliefs are on any certain subject, for one reason or another they will never be able to agree or want to understand someone whose opinions do not match theirs. The purpose of my blog this week is not to find out who is right or wrong but rather as someone who loves to do genealogy I want to try to learn how to continue my family research when in some cases so few documents still exists on certain family lines, or I find conflicting documents so not sure how to continue on and be as accurate as possible. My personal goal is to overcome the problems caused by the many things that the families of that time wanted to hide. Another matter I struggle with is once you do find something in your family history that might not be “socially” acceptable even in our time or would for sure embarrass someone in your family, how do you go about recording it accurately and in a manner that is acceptable ?
There are many who only want to know the exciting and upbeat parts of their family trees and for them only knowing the names, and vital statistics like dates and places of the births and deaths are all that is important to them in their genealogy research. This is where they draw the line and any facts that are uncomfortable, embarrassing, or they just do not agree with are deleted from their family history. They believe family history is a private matter that needs to be kept private and only the upbeat things should be shared.
Then, there are those like me that feels that any type of history should consist of the truth and wrote down accurately and completely. I am a person who not only wants but needs to know as many facts as I possibly can on all those in my family and this means the “Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. Until the puzzle feels completed I keep looking. I guess this is my OC that is coming out in my family history research, but I do feel it’s vitally important to know the complete truth. I do not think less of, or get embarrassed by the choices that my past family members made in their lives that were different from what my own personal moral code is. I truly enjoy the personal, human side of family history which helps me to understand what the times and areas were like for my different family ancestors and this brings me comfort knowing that they too were human and made their share of mistakes. I gain a whole new level of gratitude for the blessings of my life as I have read the different ways others learned to cope with the hardships of their own lives. I now feel I better understand myself enough to know that what is the best and right course for me, is not always the best and right course for other who might also share the same family blood lines as me.
I find it interesting as I watch the TV show “Who Do You Think You Are?” Before the professional genealogist reveals any unflattering family news they always ask the star if they are sure they want to know the whole truth. My answer would always be YES !!
So my questions this week to my blog readers is this.
- How do you deal with the many different layers and flavors of your family research?
- If you find facts along your research that is in those “grey areas” of being socially unacceptable things do you still share it in your public family research areas?
- If you currently have things in your family that are in those “grey areas” of being socially unacceptable, will you do like those of the past did and cover them up, or will you record the facts and the truths as they are?