YOURS, MINE AND OURS?
As a child, I found it amusing when my grandmother stated in regards to the finances in their home-
What's mine is mine and what his is mine....
I remember thinking, "well, that's one way to have it all".
Although amusing, it normally doesn't apply to all situations in life. And even though many persons act like it does- or feel like it should.
It most certainly does not apply to genealogical researching.
Okay, here is the scenario;
Your gggg grandfather was the second cousin of my gggg grandmother. I am not a whiz at these things and cannot immediately quote you the distant, but existing "relationship" between us. I am frequently and recently being faced with other researchers who feel and present the issue that because we are "family"--
I should be duty bound to immediately turn over ALL data in my database on a given family line.
I am completely uncertain if these persons are:
1. Completely ignorant of the time and work that goes into collecting such data.
2. Too lazy to do their own research
3. Honestly feel that they have the "right" to any and all information.
In any case, the plain fact is that they DO NOT automatically have the "right" to my data simply based on some long ago distant relationship.
ESPECIALLY ......if I have no idea who these people are and have never corresponded with them before regarding anything.
Don't misunderstand, I am always happy to hear from and get to know other researchers in my family lineages. However, the first or early correspondence should never be "send me all of what you have". You are likely as not to receive no response at all from me.
Everyone should remember that the idea of "exchanging" information is a two way street. It doesn't mean that either party gives the other everything and receive nothing or very little in return.
Sometimes, we get lucky and fall into a windfall situation where another researcher decides it is time to eliminate clutter or gives up researching and VOLUNTARILY gives their data to another researcher. The key word in the sentence is VOLUNTARILY. It is not something we can command or dictate.
I look upon any and all data received from another as a gift. And in that vein, I would truly hate to be an immediate member of any of these person's families as I am assuming that at Christmas they become very demanding and dictatorial regarding what "gifts" they expect to receive.
Granted there are certain persons/researchers that I would gladly and profusely share ANY AND ALL information I have simply for the asking. There are also some that I make a certain point to add also any new data that I find. However, these persons normally have a certain criteria about them that enables me to feel that way.
1. Our correspondence is long standing
2. There is a trust that the information will be used for themselves only and not made public and erroneously claimed as their own.
3. Any private details in the data is kept to themselves.
4. Their caliber of "quality work" matches my own standards-- meaning that I know any data from them has been thoroughly documented and isn't just any old thing that they find.
5. Most importantly, I know that whether or not I have any data currently for them, I will hear from them again.
My research or anyone's for that matter is a result of long standing research, reading, cemetery and library visits. In some instances, this might mean literally YEARS of time and effort.
The old standard childhood rule from your mother of :
You MUST share your things
Doesn't necessarily apply in this situation.
In requesting data from someone, I normally make certain I have corresponded with them at least a couple of times. And EVEN THEN, I always, ALWAYS form my request:
I would be most grateful for any data that YOU would care to share.
Please remember everyone, that nobody in this field is "required" to turn over anything to anyone.
The choice to do so, should be viewed in the same light that someone has the option of whether or not to invite you into their home.
HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF SOMEONE STOOD AT YOUR FRONT DOOR (especially someone you had never heard of before) AND DEMANDED ENTRY?
You would most likely think that they were "a little off", awfully demanding, had a lot of nerve, and send them packing!
This should be remembered the next time you receive no response to a demand for "all data".