Archiver > DEARMYRTLE > 2005-02 > 1107265909

From: "Myrt" <>
Subject: Genealogy Manners
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005 08:51:49 -0500

DearMYRTLE, your friend in genealogy
Genealogy Manners

Not meaning to put myself in the position of becoming the "Miss Manners" of
genealogy, ol' Myrt wishes to relate her reaction to a terrible breach of
propriety among family members. We were in the genealogy department of the
library in Tampa on Sunday afternoon. What happened would curl anyone's hair
-- however thin at this late date.

Whilst your humble writer was perusing index books and comparing them with
the database on her laptop, a terrible scene ensued between a 50ish daughter
and her 80ish mother. When the unfortunate interchange had concluded, ol'
Myrt was so moved as to attempt to provide reassurance to the elderly woman.

This dear woman had become frustrated by attempting to read microfiche of an
old city directory for the first time. She got up and asked her daughter for
advice. The daughter literally stormed over, pushed her mother back in the
chair and spoke in loud, angry terms. The mother's questions concerned the
irregular page placement on the microfiche compared to the chronological
arrangement of pages in a printed city directory. The daughter very
literally yelled said "If you will be quiet, I will tell you!"

What followed were disrespectful, unkind comments about how one reads
microfiche either across or down. She then ordered her mother to look for
every one of the family names. The mom quietly stated that she was
overwhelmed with just looking for one surname. The daughter stomped off and
said "Fine, do whatever you want. I'll get this all done myself, then." It
was impossible for anyone in the entire department to avoid witnessing this
unfortunate conversation.

Looking up from my book across to the older woman, ol' Myrt here stated "I
think you are doing a wonderful job." She smiled, and replied thank-you.
For additional support, the researcher sitting next to her explained that
sometimes the pages skip around, and are not in perfect order on a
microfiche. However, within minutes, the elderly woman left, obviously
overcome by emotion.

And the moral of the story is -- be kind to everyone you meet.

This goes beyond the boundaries of genealogical research, but is especially
important for family historians.

I have been guilty of almost the same infraction, though obviously on a much
lighter scale.

Years ago I invited my stepmother to join me in a research trip to the
Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had previously identified
78 microfilms that might mention her ancestors. It took me half a day to
realize that while I am accustomed to searching 14 hours a day, with 2 short
breaks and lunch, most newbie researchers are not. My step-mother's slower
pace at first frustrated me. Then, by some fortunate bolt of lightening from
above, I realized that if she were to enjoy this ancestral quest, it needed
to be done on her terms. I needed to relax, and enjoy the process and not
worry about getting a tremendous volume of results. After all, hadn't I just
succeeded in getting one other family member into the genealogy research
mode? Why ruin it?

It goes without saying that the position of family historian can be a pain
or a joy to our living relatives. It all depends on our attitudes about
sharing information. There is a reciprocal relationship between the amount
of kindness we employ when asking for copies of old photos and documents and
the positive response from the non-genealogists in our families.

And what does it accomplish if we locate one tidbit of information on an
ancestor, but alienate our living relatives in the process?

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

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