by Delia

We really don’t care.

Sounds mean, doesn’t it? I don’t intend it to be. We care that you have an enjoyable experience here at The Genealogy Center. We want to help you find information to further your family or historical research. We care when you hit a brick wall and will do all that we can to help you break through it.

But we don’t care if your great-grandparents were married two months before their first child was born. We understand that the situation might have been difficult, and perhaps embarrassing, for them and the family. We at The Genealogy Center have seen plenty of that kind of situation, including in our own families, so we aren’t judging you or your ancestors.

Do you have an ancestor who spent time in a mental institution? How sad for that person and the family, but we don’t look askance at you because of it.

Have a criminal in your background, or someone who so scandalized his or her congregation that an excommunication resulted? We think, “Cool! Just think of the interesting records!”

Adoptions can be the worst in terms of acquiring information. Many court systems severely regulate the freedom of the records, and, even when the documents become more available, well-meaning clerks may continue to “protect” everyone involved by blocking access. By the time people come into the library seeking sources, they have learned to not even say the word adoption, so they verbally dance around, asking but not quite asking questions. We finally ask if this is an adoption, then proceed to ask even nosier questions: Do you know how old the mother was? Do you have any clues as to the father’s situation? Do your adoptive parents have any information? And in all of this, we have to try to convey that, although we want to help, we aren’t taking notes to share with others later. We sympathize that it is a difficult situation, and a difficult type of search, but the most we would ever do is to try to develop new ideas for the future, or perhaps share a research option in a forum like this one, with all pertinent identifying information deleted.

All of this is to reassure you that your search is no one’s business but your own. We might indicate to a researcher that we recently had a similar situation and discovered a new source. We could share a complicated search strategy with our colleagues, so they can assist others in the future. But we won’t break your confidence. That is our ethical standard.

So when you come to us to ask for research assistance, remember that our ethical standards guarantee that we will keep your confidences, and that, beyond asking questions to try to aid your search, we don’t care to judge your family.