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Trekker
30 June 2006, 11:07 AM
Every few months I get a request for family history but no offer to exchange information. I am looking for suggestions as to how to be polite but at the same time get information in return.

David G. Kanter
30 June 2006, 11:37 AM
Every few months I get a request for family history but no offer to exchange information. I am looking for suggestions as to how to be polite but at the same time get information in return.Unless it's impractical to do so, I won't provide information in response only to a written request; I insist on talking to the requester--whether in my immediate family or farther afield--to establish a better rapport. I usually find that during such a discussion, the requester learns to appreciate the importance of such a "give-and-take" practice. (If they don't, again unless it's an unusual situation, I politely decline to provide them anything.)

Once I'm satisfied there's a reasonable basis for their having the family information, I establish that they must first review/complete/expand what information I have on their more-immediate family--say at least from their great grandparents, to their grandparents and then down to all descendents (excluding my own direct line, if so included).

To that end, I'll send them a Descendant Chart (with just the basic information) and a questionnaire-style Descendant Report (i.e., one with the "Exclude Empty Fields" option under Event Format disabled) with all the fields I'm most interested in. ( I find the questionnaire-style report, with its field labels for even the still-empty fields, provides a valuable prompt to the reader for that completely-unknown information.)

When I get back what I consider a good-faith effort to have done that review/complete/expand effort, I'll then send them anything else I have that it makes sense for them to have.

marnen
30 June 2006, 11:49 AM
I agree that it's most satisfying to exchange information, but if someone was seriously interested in what information I had, I don't think I'd decline their request, at least under most circumstances. After all, most of the information is from public sources, and anyway I plan to make the whole thing public (i.e. post it on the Web) when I accumulate enough information. I really can't see how hoarding or not sharing information benefits anyone.

One of my most valuable recent discoveries came from someone who chose to act in just this way: he put a huge genealogy on the Web, complete with the name of one of my relatives (who had married into his family -- as far as I know, he had no interest in my closer relatives). As a result, I found out about a branch of the family I didn't know existed. If he'd chosen to hoard that information, I never would have made that discovery. (Of course, in the spirit of sharing, I will be contributing further information to his genealogy.)

Note that nothing I'm saying here is meant to imply that there's only one way to deal with this issue. I just want to point out the advantages of a different policy.

Shirley Westaway
01 July 2006, 03:20 AM
It seems like I live among generous people. The three families who mainly fill my Reunion files are generous and appreciative so that information flows freely both ways.
The Celts from Cornwall, I admit, are reticent; the Irish are difficult because of the scarcity of records, and the Norwegians are a problem because of the naming system yet it was a complete stranger who willingly went to work to send me two generations back from my greatgrandfather who in Australia called himself Thomas THOMPSON but turned out to be Aslak Asbj

David Moody
01 July 2006, 12:40 PM
I agree that it's most satisfying to exchange information, but if someone was seriously interested in what information I had, I don't think I'd decline their request, at least under most circumstances. After all, most of the information is from public sources, and anyway I plan to make the whole thing public (i.e. post it on the Web) when I accumulate enough information. I really can't see how hoarding or not sharing information benefits anyone.I think one's attitude toward sharing information is often based on one's situation. I am retired. I have been a family historian for 35 years and have about 6000 individuals in my data base, dating back to 1490 in England. I started with genealogical data accumulated by a great uncle that I fortuitously found 40 years after his death. I want what I have in my data base to be available to my descendants, and as I can not identify any one with a current interest among those descendants, I am afraid that my accumulation may lie fallow for another 40 years, or worse be lost forever. I, therefore, am happy to share my information and only hope any return contribution is relevant to my research. (Which I feel is part of history, the bits of which I have tied together, and not mine personally.) I have posted one line on a website, and plan to soon put another 7 lineages on the same site, again in hope that what I have accumulated will not be lost.

Nick
15 September 2006, 07:00 PM
Exchanging data is fine: you preserve your own data in this way. BUT... people tend to take your hard-earned research and post it as their own. Not that I'm jealous or glory-seeking, but I have found my data posted all over the place, and it is never updated or corrected, which is definitely 'a bad thing'.

I now give any data to any inquirer, but on principal I do not supply the sources. Data without sources is relatively useless as nothing is 'proved'. I keep my sources to myself, and thus ensure that my data are the only 'authentic' ones around. Of course, I am delighted if anyone else does their own research - but then this tends to frustrate me too, as two people are doing the same job!

marnen
16 September 2006, 02:18 PM
Unfortunately, your approach is probably counterproductive. If someone is slipshod enough to take your data without attribution, that person will probably also be slipshod enough to not notice that your data is unsourced. Meanwhile, if someone is genuinely interested in verifying your data, that's not possible because you don't give sources.

You're not the first person I've heard advocate withholding sources, but I have never yet heard a good explanation of why this is desirable. Since no data is really useful without sources, by withholding sources you are compromising the utility of your own data.

Besides, you say you're frustrated when two people do the same research. Well, when you withhold sources, you guarantee duplication. Consider: I find information on a relative in your database. There are no sources, so I don't know if the info is accurate. Therefore, in order to verify, I have to do the same research you already did. Thus, your system produces the very result you say you don't want!

Now, if I misunderstood you and you meant that you do provide source citations, but only on a direct request, then some of what I was saying here doesn't apply. But it sounded like you were saying that you never disclose your sources, and IMHO that's just not cricket.

Finally, I thought I'd mention something that too often gets lost sight of: the hard work of research is yours alone, and should be honored. The information uncovered by that research is not yours, or mine, or anyone else's, and I think it should not be treated as if it were.

Nick
18 September 2006, 04:39 PM
Sorry not to have been clearer: of course I provide sources on request. What I was thinking of was when someone asks me for 'all the information you have on -----'. Since I am bound to reply (GOONS rules - and indeed I am always happy to do so), I send a gedom or CD-ROM of all I have, but without sources.

But if anyone wants a single or a few sources I give them willingly.

If someone is interested in verifying my data, well I presume they would tell me so, and we can work on that together. Sorry if I sounded like some creep who jealously keeps all sources secret!

jimsz
09 October 2006, 12:12 PM
I have found myself simply not giving people copies of anything any longer.

I used to copy everything and supply anything requested. My research and family file only contain 300 people (going back to the 1600's) but all of them include full documentation of where the info was from, census images, baptism images (even from the 1600's), etc.. It's not many people but considering nobody in my family knew anything about anyone before the 1900's, no names, dates, immigration info, etc. everything had to be researched and discovered (and it has been fun to do!).

Rarely if ever has anyone related to me, despite my requests and sending out of questionnaires, given any information, photo's document copies.

However, I will give information to a number of others interested in genealogy researching similar names. They have always been generous to me and I will always return that favor.

Few people, especially newbies to genealogy are interested in research. They want to collect names and they want to do it by typing into a browser window and accepting the results as truth.

Nick
09 October 2006, 06:38 PM
Few people, especially newbies to genealogy are interested in research. They want to collect names and they want to do it by typing into a browser window and accepting the results as truth.Too true. But what do you do when, for example, you find a family tree on, say, Genes Reunited, which contains dozens of names that are pertinent to your research? Most GR people (experto crede) do not have sources, as you point out. They will answer (when questioned) that they got the information from Aunt Maggie. Do you incorporate the data (with a caveat) or not?

marnen
09 October 2006, 07:24 PM
Few people, especially newbies to genealogy are interested in research. They want to collect names and they want to do it by typing into a browser window and accepting the results as truth.
I certainly hope that isn't true. Certainly I consider myself a relative genealogical beginner, yet such a slipshod approach never crossed my mind.

Besides, if you only share info with serious researchers, how do you determine which researchers are serious without giving them information?

Wendy Jones
27 November 2006, 06:41 AM
Hi everyone bought my reunion 8 last week and love it!

I have been fortunate to have had great responses from people from Genes Reunited. I generally offer some information and if they respond with information matching to my research or looking as if it may match then I share my tree. If there is no link I always reply and tell them if I have not found a link but it could be possible or the location or names I have never come across at that stage.

I have been able to get in touch with people directly related who I did not know before and we have shared photos and sources and helped each other out when we have got stuck including sharing BMD records and census records. It is always somewhat spooky when someone sends an old photo of someone who is a direct descendant and being able to share that with members of the family in their twilight years has made their day so I am a big advocate for sharing.

I never mind sharing as It has helped me out enormously - just that one link found can make a huge difference and open everything up and there is a certain amount of pleasure in helping.

The people I have come across have been genuine. I find that most do not give me their sources so I have to double check but I would still check even if they gave me the sources just in case. I have corrected people in their research.

As a fairly new beginner I started off with nothing and did the hard yards. Unfortunately I did not write all my sources down so I am in the process of now re confirming all the sources but at least I know where they all are.

andrewcairns
27 November 2006, 06:59 PM
Hi Wendy,

Welcome to the nut house!

Drop me a line at atcairns@gmail.com if I can be of any assistance. I have quite a large family file and some years of knocking my head against the wall which I'm happy to share.