Tuesday, June 3, 2014
When bad things happen
Great Uncle Bob was a cattle thief in Texas... Aunt Bertha lived in a insane asylum for 20 years. Uncle Ted died of a drug overdose. These events tell part of the genealogy story and are interesting, but what is the best way to document uncomfortable situations that happen in life.
Life is not perfect and our genealogy should reflect that. Thought we must be tactful when documenting the tragedies of other family members.
B: Hi this is cousin Joe, I just need to get the proper spelling of the prison that your husband was sentenced to last week. It for my genealogy, thanks.
A: /* hangs up phone */
This example is not the proper tack and too soon.
Dealing with difficult situations take discretion. Does the family want the event recorded. It is significant enough to merit recording. I once had the family of a distant cousin request removal of a divorced spouse because of a domestic violence situation they didn't want to see his name in writing or have anything to do with him. A situation like that is a judgement call on the part of the genealogist. Alienate the family for the sake of the future generations or follow their wishes and be without one name?
Purpose and relevance
The devil is in the details. Why are you recording this information. There is a difference between Grandpa Joe was in juvenile hall for a week when he was 12 and Uncle Sal was sentenced to 30 to life when he was 40. The relevance and the impact on the family tree are judgement calls.
Not over yet
There is also the issue of closure. There are many wonderful stories of people coming out of tragic turning their lives around and becoming productive citizens. Just because some one is down does not mean they are out and it may behoove you to not enter the story until they complete it.