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The Quest: Blog Archive 7/2005

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Topic: Why Sharing is so important
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7/2005
Topic: Collaborating         Title: I almost didn't find my family
 
 
My frustration level with some of the genealogy community is growing...most of the people I've met and corresponded with are SO nice and helpful and willing to bend over backward to help....
 
But I feel a deep frustration with the few who jealously guard their information and resources, irreplaceable family information in some cases, out of fear of an unnamed 'someone else' stealing their work. I can understand being resentful of not getting credit for the work that you put in year after year digging up clues, but as a newcomer, I see your work as a wonderful resource to BUILD on, not to steal. You know so much more than I, have so much more of the family history and yet if you pass away before you pass it on, it will probably disappear.
 
My reasons for feeling this way:
 
1.) My grandmother, mother, and sister have all given information to 'family researchers' who have written or called for information in the past, and yet none of that information was passed down when my grandmother or mother died...my sister's still here luckily :), but no information was ever given to her either.
 
2.) I transcribed information for my grandmother in her last days that was sent on to a 'family researcher'. It was a multipage document that had dates and names, unfortunately the copy I made for my mother's files was lost when she passed away. It was a 3 or 4 hour conversation in the few years before she died. I don't remember much; I've had too many medications go through my blood stream since then for me to trust a great deal in what I remember of details :(
 
3.) All I knew when my parents died were the names of my grandparents. Without photo captions in the boxes passed down by my grandmother Olga and Aunt Pat, I'd have no clue who most of these people were, or where to start. Luckily these weren't among the photos that were 'thrown away' because people didn't have any clue who was in them. (I can hear you wincing from here...so did I.)
 
4.) It was only by lucky chance that someone generously entered information on Sister Ada Marie, my great aunt, into the familysearch.org site. They didn't have my grandfather listed as a brother of hers if I remember correctly, but it gave me a few generations to start with, and some names of siblings. :)
 
5.) I've been at this almost 2 years now...not very long by most people's standards, and I've amassed a large number of 'names' that someone is pretty sure are related to me, but without Robert Wylie, Sue Duoblys, Marg Olson, and the kind soul who posted at familysearch, I'd probably have given up.
 
I'm disabled and not very mobile. Trips to Minnesota or Kansas are pretty much out of the question due to budget and pain considerations...even the local library is a heruclean task for me to manage on most days, without my computer and the wonderful people who enter information, I couldn't have gotten anywhere. There's a reason I didn't take this hobby up long ago :)
 
6.) I think I mentioned budget already, but it bears repeating. Just about every record you have to request someone wants money for, any help you get from genealogy societies I'm told they expect a 'donation' for  (I understand the reason for it, just can't afford it.)...the better listings of indexes are on paid sites, trips anywhere to research records are time and money, most computer programs eventually cost money, reference books cost money, subscriptions to the more established genealogy magazines, DAR access to their library, Godfrey, Ancestry,  Heritage Quest I can actually get from my home through one of the nearby county libraries :) But it all adds up.
 
Most of the people I've 'met' doing this are older than I am and I'm sure on just as much of a fixed income as I am with as many dollars spent on medications and doctor visits...though I'm not sure they have the school clothes, school expenses & supplies and soon to be teenage expectations and feeding a teenage boy's appetite to deal with LOL...but the point is:
 
If we are both researching the same family and you have pictures, certificates, paperwork that you have already paid the 'dues' for...what does it hurt you to scan them and share with another researcher? I can then look at them and discover for myself if I agree with your conclusions after seeing your evidence.  What does it hurt to scan or copy pictures you might have that I don't have access to? I'm more than willing to return the favor. I can even be talked occasionally into sending my photos out on a CD for you to access, depending on how our finances are doing at the time.
 
The researchers I've run into in my husband's family have generously opened their hands and mailboxes and sent numerous photocopies and family worksheets to be talked over back and forth.
 
I missed meeting one of them before he died three years ago, but his son is digging out his information as he finds it and sending it to me to be included in what we know of the family....
 
You see, Bennie, he never 'finished' his genealogy...he had boxes of information I'm told...but no one knows where it is now. As it's found, I'm determined to post it and let others in the family know just what he spent all those years digging up. I may not be a great genealogist...but I'm okay at the keyboard :)
 
So please, decry the so-called 'professionals' who take data from websites and pass it off as their own work if you must, but realize that some of us 'amateurs' have a very definite opinion about sharing information and very strong feelings about not knowing anything about where we came from. I'm hoping others in my family and my children won't feel the same sense of being cut off when I die that I felt when I realized all my aunts and my parents were gone.
 
Blessings all,      Sondra

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Created by: S. Miller-Prowett 9/2004
Updated 8/2007