The Big Secret…

When you’re shaking your family tree, a few nuts are bound to fall. However, sometimes a few skeletons fall also. I’m wondering, do you say “Hey..look at this skeleton bone that just fell” or do you dig a hole and bury it never to be found again?

When I say never, I mean, only to be found by the next person in your tree looking to shake it a little.

Everyone has a big secret in their family tree.  Some directly related to the person doing the researching.  Does that give you a right to make the secret known or do you wait for permission from all parties involved to blurt it out??  Some secrets can change the dynamics of an entire family.  What do you do with this information???

3 Replies to “The Big Secret…”

  1. James Tanner recently addressed this same question in his blog, Genealogy’s Star. It can be a thorny problem. I have no difficulty talking about my bigamous great-great grandfather; he livened up an otherwise dull genealogy with his situation. And it put me in touch with a cousin (descendant of his second marriage; I descend from the first). We get along great, whatever the story. The past is past, as James Tanner says, and we should meet the past on its terms, not ours.

    It is true that there are some situations where a “black sheep” was particularly embarrassing or downright heinous, and this can pose problems, especially if the event is in the recent past rather than the far past.

    It has to be each individual’s decision, based on what they themselves can abide, and what effect the information may have on other family members.

    On the other hand, people need to understand that we are human and have our failings, and some of us more so than others.

    My bottom line is: information should not be destroyed, and history should be preserved. My bias on this is that I am a historian!

  2. Karen, I feel the same way. We have a family secret (yet to be proven). But the people holding onto this secret are still living. It’s one of those situations where, you know the truth, just need someone to confirm it!!!

  3. I recently have had to deal with this and kind of wished I had left in along. The only reason I got involved is because I know I feel about family regardless of the circumstances, etc. In my case, the main characters in the “secret” have long been dead but there were others involved who were still too close to the situation. It’s some of those others and knowing how they probably would react that gave me pause. The funny thing is that based on the reaction of some, for me it confirmed the story.

    Of course there is another family secret that I had heard and that I ended up confirming in the course of doing my research. With that one, I won’t destroy the record of it but I also won’t say anything either. Not because of the previous situation but mainly because I think it would do more harm than good to the two people involved and that would be directly impacted by the revelation.

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