Power-Up SIG Notes: Sharing Your Research

Note — we spent almost all our time discussing the issues rather than how-tos and formats.

  • Goals
    • Furthering your research
    • Informing relatives
    • Enjoying your history
    • Saving for posterity
  • Format
    • Paper
    • Digital
    • Crafts
  • Issues
    • Secrets & bad news – do you disclose? We decided it depended on how “bad” the secret was, how long ago the event occurred and whether there was already a public record
    • Celebrating your “heritage” – is it tacky to find a Scottish great-great grandfather and suddenly start wearing tartan? Most of us considered it harmless, but would want to consider how long ago the ancestor left and why (is it really honoring an ancestor to celebrate a country that they left to escape severe hardship or persecution?)  Is there an authenticity question?
    • People who won’t share
    • People who don’t want you to share – approach depends on their reasons
      • Privacy – best not to publicize info on recent generations (even for those who overshare on Facebook!) And see above for secrets
      • Correctness – Don’t want to share because there’s lots of bad genealogy out there? Or you’re not sure what you’ve got is correct?  It seems good to distribute the correct and wise not to distribute the doubtful
      • Ownership – I’ve done this work and I don’t want anyone else to take credit for it.
        • Risk having someone else do the same work, publicize, and get the credit
        • You don’t own your ancestors…and any artifacts, like photos, that you own are probably due to luck of the draw. What about all the other descendants?
        • Fear commercialization of sharing photos or other artifacts? First, odds are you don’t own the copyright either. Second, copyright prevents unauthorized commercialization.  Third, how unique and wonderful are your artifacts?  Are they really worth anything?
      • Waiting until you’re “done” – Genealogy is never done. We think other people should set some boundaries for a project, get it written up, and get high quality stuff out there rather than letting it sit in file cabinets and risk being thrown away.  We admit we don’t follow this advice for ourselves.
      • Errors and updates – Shouldn’t keep us from getting something out there. There are steps, like distributing sections of drafts to family members for edits, that can reduce errors.
    • Your archive
      • Find a relative
      • Donate to a repository
        • MHGS will take genealogy research files

Footnote:  We discussed a poem about grandma’s aprons.  Here are links to the “original” poem and the version Julia saw first