I wrote a blog a few weeks ago concerning how much detail should be included in a personal story for future generations. I know I would love to have more information like this, good or bad, on the personal lives of my ancestors. The consensus of the replies to the blog reinforced my belief that we should include some of the “hard” stories in our genealogy writings. Now I have a new dilemma kind of along the same line.
A few years ago, I asked some of my cousins if they knew any stories about anyone in our family. I specifically asked for those of my Grandparents or ancestors further back in the line. I did state that if the person were deceased I would also like stories of those in our generation. I got a few short stories about my paternal Grandfather, a couple of Aunts, one Great Uncle, and one of my deceased 1st cousins. They are all great stories, but I have reservations about writing the one about my cousin.
Society has changed a lot in the last 50 years. What was accepted or tolerated then, is taboo today. People are easily offended, and, in most cases, they have every right to be. However, we can’t change history nor whitewash things that happened back in the 60’s that we would find abhorrent today. The story about my cousin would be considered racist, and it is! However, it did happen, the world was in a different place than it is today, and it is a fact that it happened.
My dilemma is do I just write it as a fact, or should I include some historical detail and explanation of the times in which the event happened? Perhaps I could go into a little detail of how my cousin grew up and his family’s outlook on the situation that was happening?
Any input or suggestions would be appreciated.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.
It is always amazing to see how much society has changed in the last few hundred years. What is the “norm” for today was taboo a century ago and what was accepted 200 years ago seems unimaginable today. Throughout history there has always been a “Hot Topic” in each generation. Topics such as the Suffrage Movement, Religious Freedoms, Slavery, Prohibition, Wars etc. Today we are hard pressed to find out how our ancestors felt about these issues or if any of them actively supported or opposed them. Unless our ancestor was “famous” for their stand we may never know.
We can make assumptions on some of their beliefs by how they lived. Take for instance the Civil War. If your ancestor fought for the North, you can assume they were anti-slavery and if they fought for the South they were pro-slavery. Also if they owned slaves you can assume that they believed in it and if they didn’t they were opposed. Some of the “topics” were not so obvious.
If we are lucky we can find membership information, letters, affiliations or other documents that can provide a glimpse into our ancestors’ stance on the issues of their day. However, most of us will never find these gems. We are left wondering if they had any opinion at all. This brings us to our own time in the genealogical timeline. We have so many “Hot Topics” today that in a hundred years our future generations will wonder where we stood and why.
I am of the belief that I want to leave as much information for our future generations as possible. Not only about our ancestral line but also of the times in which we live. I have started writing about some of my beliefs, my stands on social issues and any participation’s I have had for or against those issues. To be quite honest I have picketed for one issue and I have picketed against another. I have participated in rallies and marches. I have appeared on local and National television, radio programs, been a Conference Speaker and featured in magazines and newspapers as an expert on one issue. I want my Great Grand-kids to know their Great Grandma held strong opinions on certain subjects and she wasn’t afraid to let others know how she felt. I am trying to be fair and explain both sides of the issues and express why I chose the side I did.
What “Hot Topics” do you have an opinion or belief on? Have you gotten involved fighting for or against that Topic? Think about leaving your experiences behind for those coming after you.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.