Genealogy & Greed Don’t Mix

The genesis of this post goes way back to my early days in genealogy. Back in the days of Everton’s Genealogical Helper, a publication full of personal ads for genealogists looking to contact others with the hopes of making a genealogical connection and sharing information. Back then information exchange took time. We mailed off letters with a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) and waited for a reply. Sometimes handwritten and sometimes typewritten letters or large envelopes arrived weeks or months later. A trip to the mail box was fun—never knowing what the mailman would bring. There was a polite and congenial exchange of information. Often a check was sent to cover the cost of copies and postage.

Back when I was a teenager just starting out, so many people helped me so very much. It’s a debt that I continue to pay forward. Most of those who helped me back in the 1970’s are long gone, but I hope that they would be proud of what their sharing enabled me to do. So many brick walls have been scaled and mysteries have been solved that I am sure, were they still alive, they would be delighted. And at the end of the day isn’t that what genealogy is about? Sharing and caring for our common ancestors in an attempt to share their stories for future generations.

Sadly in the last few years I have noted more and more greed slipping into my beloved hobby. Sometimes it’s masked as “protecting” one’s privacy or my tree is a mess so it can’t be “shared.” But it isn’t just individuals hoarding ancestors, photographs and family trees. It is also seen in organizations which try to maintain some exclusive hold on what they have acquired and keep it from all but their paying members. Personally this is counterproductive and unbecoming. Like the old adage you attract more bees with honey than vinegar.

Collaboration is not a new idea in genealogy—it is the foundation upon which all genealogy is built. We all have pieces to the puzzle. We work in isolation to the detriment of all. We share and more comes our way than we could ever imagine. If individuals and organizations operate under the banner of GREED, opportunities for the joy of giving and receiving vanish. What is better than sharing with another a photograph you own of a second great grand-mother someone else has never seen? Rather then view it as “stealing” when someone adds a photo you posted, to their tree—consider it sharing the joy for future generations. So what if all your hard work is “adopted” by someone just starting out. I did that when others got me started. Without their help where would I be today?

Here is my urgent plea. Please do not be a greedy genealogist. We share ancestors, we are family. Let us embark on our journeys of discovery together in the spirit of fun, camaraderie and collaboration.

12 Comments on “Genealogy & Greed Don’t Mix”

  1. Can’t agree more. Particularly the hoarding relative. I have rescued photos for complete strangers. Because the thought of them going to the trash mortified. I am direct descendant of Johann Leonhardt (Leonard) Moser and very happy to find this blogspot. My Moser men throughout the generations are so much alike that I didn’t bother with a DNA test. I knew they were mine. I just knew. ❤️

    • Marti I am a descendant of Johan Leonhart Moser’s brother Georg Frederic know as “Frederick” MOSER. I have been to Breitenau, Großulrichausen, Wörnitz and Wißenkirchberg and have photos. Let me know if you are interested.

  2. I apologize up front if the stories about my great grandparents are redundant. I wanted to ask if you got fooled by the Ancestry Public Story called Moser Journals. At the time I found it, their was no disclaimer. It was actually a Senior college thesis and was “based” on true facts pulled from military records of the 3 Moser’s Revolutionary War records. The rest was a story and appeared as letters from father to son. Ancestry eventually listened to relatives concerns about the appearance of the story. I have it if you do not. I’m sure you saw it though. The pictures of our Moser ancestors are very sparse that I have. My grandfather’s parents both died shortly after his 5th birthday. His mother, Martha Elizabeth Hankins Burrow Moser died when he was 9 months old and his father, John Ephraim Moser was shot and killed in church with Jack on his lap. An angry 19 year old son-in-law, estranged from his wife came into the church and shot him in the head 3 times with a 41 caliber Colt revolver. Jack didn’t have or did he even know his history on either side. I have a couple of photos I believe to be from the North Carolina generation or possibly the Arkansas latter days. I’ll post those now.

  3. Pingback: REFORMED GENEALOGISTS: Turning Trees into Stories | Wheaton Wood

  4. Well-written, sadly genealogy no longer only comes down to available time, but also payments for everything. I have not encountered any individual yet that fits your description, but the companies are unavoidable. I’m just happy that many of the records and old church books is made available for free here in Sweden by the state. Even though a few companies advertise a payed version of the same photocopies. Then it just comes down to the question of reaching out to others researching the same families. That can be a bit more tricky. Sharing is channeled into the payed platforms, with a lot of questions of immaterial rights going unanswered.

    I’m probably in the category of the ones “hording information”, trying to gather as much information as possible from all available sources. But there is also that joy with sharing a more complete picture with all those that have provided what they knew. Only thing here in Europe is to be careful with publishing information about people who might still be alive, due to sensitive information I can usually only share parts of my tree 🙂

    • Yes the payments for everything part truly is sad. My blog is FREE to all and I have just begun another Website venture with a couple of friends—again FREE! We have to be careful here to about living people. My parents and all of the generation are deceased…so its a battle with time to get as many of these stories out.

  5. Pingback: Writing Stories: Writing Begins With a Title | Wheaton Wood

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