What happens when a skeleton gets out – what do you do next?
I had to contemplate this last year. I had decided to research part of my husband’s family – I needed a bit of a change. I didn’t ask anyone for any additional information. It was a self test of sorts. After about a month of on and off research, we had a family gathering. I brought some of my research to share with any family members that might be interested.
Then it happened.
“You have this information ALL wrong.” “This certificate is not the right one.” “There is NO WAY this is the right couple.”
My heart sank. PLUNK! A skeleton fell out of the closet.
I looked down at the marriage certificate that was on the table. The couple was married 2 years after their first-born child. This obviously was upsetting, so I did some quick thinking and reasoned that maybe the church ceremony was a few years before the actual civil registration. That seemed to calm the situation and I quickly moved on to other documents – documents that were not as controversial.
I learned a few valuable things that day:
1. Don’t put my need to show my research abilities in front others’ feelings. I need to be careful with the information that I uncover.
2. Telling the story of someone’s journey sometimes uncovers things people do not want to know – even if they say they want to know their family history.
3. Not everyone is as understanding to various ‘skeletons’ as genealogists are.
The skeleton came out, but I survived. Although this one was more of an oversight on my part, I still should have been more careful.
In my last post, we discussed whether skeletons should come out or not. What happened when a skeleton came out of your closet? Was it intentional? Was it an accident? How did you manage through it and were there repercussions? I’d love to hear more.
I think as historians we have a responsibility to find the truth, but we don’t always have to reveal it. 🙂
Exactly! We can keep it to ourself for as long as necessary.
I can see where you’re coming from – family historians are historians – they like to look at and seek out the facts – and then tell the story. You did well to avert the family upset caused by a rattling skeleton – I’m trying to learn to be a more diplomatic family historian too 🙂
Sometimes the hunt is so exciting, it’s hard to contain yourself!
I agree – it definitely is!
Oh, if I had unveiled any skeletons within my family, I would be dead. My dad knew Al Capone!
Now that would make for some interesting stories!
I had an uncle that supposedly ran around with some of those boys as well, but I haven’t really tried to prove that. 🙂
I’m glad you are still around and nothing was unnecessarily unveiled! Thanks for stopping by my blog.