Bigger Than Us

In doing genealogy I have had several encounters with people who are fiercely protective of information about their ancestors.  They don’t want this or that picture on the web.  They want this story taken down.  They don’t want anyone to have a copy of certain documents, etc.  They want the information kept just for them.  They know, but they don’t want anyone else to know.

Broadly, our ancestors do not belong to us.  They belong to all those who will someday be born to their lines, generation after generation.  They belong to history itself.  It is not our job to keep information locked away where it will be lost eventually when we die.  If we see things that way, eventually every one of the ancestors who gave us our genetics and the lives we know will be forgotten, dust, lost.

People who feel like they should keep information about their ancestors secret and lock it away – people who think they *own* their ancestors – they are making it more likely that those ancestors will be forgotten.  It makes me sad, because the loss is so much greater than just the loss of a person. It’s the loss of that person to every descendant who could have known them and, in doing so, known something of themselves.


About cthomas1967

Seeking to bring my ancestors out of the shadows of history and into the light. I have always been interested in history, and at a few different times I tried to do a family tree, but wasn't able to do it with the technology that was available then. On a business trip I visited the World War I Museum in Kansas City, MO and it was a very impressive establishment. While I was there I remember thinking, "Didn't my great-grandfather father fight in World War I? And wasn't his brother killed alongside him in some famous battle? I wonder if I can find out where he died." That's what started it all. View all posts by cthomas1967

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