Risky Business

Posted on | September 14, 2011 | Comments Off

Dear Short Answers:
A few months ago, I volunteered to construct a family tree for all the members of my extended family. As part of the research, I asked everybody in the family to fill out a questionnaire so that I could get started researching online. Nobody batted an eye — and everybody gave me the information I asked for (birthdates, marriage dates, etc.). Much to my surprise, I found out things about my living relatives that were shocking — an arrest, a spousal abuse charge, a vicious divorce. I never would have gone online to find these things out — it just happened as part of my research. Now that I know all of these things — do I include them in my family tree?  Or do I keep quiet. I’m sure that no one in the family knows that such information is readily available online. What do you think?
Family Researcher

Dear F.R.:
We think these things are not worth doing if you airbrush out the juicy details.  You may, however, want to write a note to all who have contributed and thank them but include a “caveat emptor.” Remind them that  when you go digging around in the past, inevitably there will be some surprises .  Affirm that a commitment to family as well as a sense of humor is the cost of entry.

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