X is for Scandals and eXpertise

My A to Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.

XX is for Scandals

I know, there’s no X in scandals but if I used “?-rated” I’d be inundated with dubious spam.

As family historians we need to cope with all those scandals and skeletons that come out of the research cupboards, otherwise we’d best not start.It’s wise to wear a non-judgemental hat (at least most of the time) as we have no idea of our ancestors’ specific circumstances and, as we know, we too will make mistakes in our lives. Do unto others…and be tolerant of ancestral shortcomings.

see no evilI know there will be extreme circumstances in some families such as domestic violence, murder, child abuse, and for our early settlers perhaps maltreatment or murder of indigenous peoples.These would be ones I’d find difficult, if not impossible, to tolerate myself .

There are other ones that earlier generations carefully concealed: convicts, illegitimate children, adoptions in/out, bigamy, incest, murder, victims of crime, divorce, mental illness, extreme poverty, etc etc. While many of these would no longer gain that letter-rating I carefully didn’t mention, some can still bring us up short and others ensure that the information may well still be concealed within the family.

How we deal with this information, balancing honesty in reporting with respect for the people whose lives they were, as well as for their living decendants, definitely needs to be part of our family historian attributes. This leads us back to the importance of ethics in our research.

graduationX is also for eXpertise

As we research the specific combinations of our families and their backgrounds, we acquire more and more knowledge about where they lived, their occupations and their country of origin. We gain eXpertise in certain areas and should give ourselves credit for that life-long learning.

Also a word of warning. While others may have wide eXpertise, they may still get things wrong. When I started my own family history 30 years ago, I was told “no Bavarians came to Queensland” and “no German Catholics”.

Had I believed those statements I could still be searching for my George Kunkel, in entirely the wrong part of Germany. Instead I bought relevant certificates and in every single instance he stated Bavaria as his home place. Further research, over a long period, revealed that he was far from being odd man out in being a Catholic…it was just that the German Catholics had intermingled with the Irish. So trust your research and your own eXpertise after a careful analysis of what you’ve done.

Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>

 There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 300-399.



14 thoughts on “X is for Scandals and eXpertise

  1. My grandmother’s three marriages were pretty hush hush and now I wish I had asked her why she left her husbands. Three times is pretty much a record and yet she was such a lovely person. I suppose I will never know but after this A to Z blog finishes I might start finding out what I can about the three men from historic records you have suggested.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I get what you mean about the scandals and such…. it was funny when I found things about the peripheral ancestors, but when it was in my direct line it took me a while to come to terms with it. I heard my granny in my head saying “Judge not lest you be judged”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is a lot of scandalous information available in public records like divorce proceedings in a chancery case, testimony of witnesses in a murder trial quoted in newspapers, etc. That’s the stuff that might make our eyeball-rolling living relatives perk up and take an interest in our research. But we have to be careful how we use that information in our blogs because there may be living descendants unaware of their ancestor’s misdeeds. The age of such scandals might also influence how we use the information. It’s important to understand the social climate of the day and put the scandalous deed in historical context too.

    Liked by 1 person

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