Over the years, I find two enjoyable aspects to researching my family are meeting distant cousins who are also into genealogy, and getting the chance to trade our research. I have been surprised by how close genealogy can bring two people together who would otherwise just be considered strangers.
Research has brought many amazing people into my life who have become just as close as my immediate family; we’ve helped each other break through roadblocks and identified unknown faces in family photos, as well as shared letters, family stories, research and laughs. We found excitement in collaborating on all of our hard work and watching the joy we brought to each other through it.
Unfortunately though, like everything else in life, there are also people who like to ruin the fun for others. If you have been researching your family long enough, you have likely come into contact with a genealogy grinch or two. They always have an excuse to not share their information – even after you’ve sent all of yours. Sometimes they don’t bother with excuses; they just flat out refuse to share any of their photos, records, etc. This is by far my biggest pet peeve when it comes to genealogy.
While most were happy to answer questions and add their photos, records and stories – thrilled someone cared and wanted to be a part of it – others promised to send their information but never followed through. However, they took great pride in showing off their work at family reunions and get-togethers. I have also had some people say flat they didn’t have pictures of particular people, only to find out they did. I could never wrap my head around this need to keep everything for themselves. I mean, it’s not like I was expecting them to just hand over all of their original documents and photos when I only wanted copies.
There are so many ways to share information now that there really is no excuse. From making photocopies, scanning, burning a disk, emailing, to uploading your tree and photos for sharing on sites like Ancestry.com, the options are endless. So why be the grinch ruining it for everyone else?
If you are guilty of being a genealogy grinch, stop and remember why you got into genealogy in the first place. Chances are you wanted to get to know your family’s past, keep your lost loved ones alive and hoped to learn a bit about yourself along the way.
Now ask yourself: Why would you want to be a dead-end for someone else who is hoping to do the same?
By Kris Williams
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