11 September 2010

Sharing Sources, Research, Etc.

One of my favorite chefs is Mario Batali.  I was shocked when I heard him say he didn't keep any cooking secrets -- he was willing to share recipes and techniques with anyone!  He was comfortable in his shoes and unthreatened by others knowing what he knew.  And besides, it was all about the food.

I have been researching my family tree for about four years, but didn't get serious about doing it right and sourcing everything until this year.  Now whenever I discover a distant cousin also doing family research, almost always my first request is for their sources.  I am glad to share mine, although because I am a newbie at sourcing I have a limited supply.

So far, most of my new-found "cousins" are like what I was -- essentially a name collector and have no sources.  The next step up, barely, are those whose "sources" are the online family trees of name collectors!  But the worst, at least in my opinion, the absolute worst, is the successful genealogist who has been researching our mutual ancestors for decades and has documented everything. . . . and won't share the sources.

I know how it must feel, to have put in all that hard work, money, and time, and then some newbie comes along and wants it handed to him or her with little effort.  But I wish you would take a lesson from Mario Batali.  It is about family.  Isn't that why you started genealogy in the first place?  Is there any better way to honor your ancestors than to share the truth about their lives with a relative who wants to know?  It does them no honor to keep it to yourself.

I know it is easy for me to say, I am one of those newbies.  And I am certainly in no position to tell you what you must do with the product of all your hard work and expense.  But I am not too far removed from when I started researching, to remember "family" is why I got started in the first place.

Copyright © 2010 by Kevin W. Walker

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