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January 16, 2008


Brenda Friedrich

When is it OK to list information about a family member? This is a great question and I wonder how other bloggers are dealing with it. I launched my blog primarily to share stories from my life. But I don't live in a vacuum; the lives of others intersect with mine. As an example, my parents are in their eighties. With an aging population, many issues arise. How can I still respect my folk's privacy (and sense of dignity) yet still honestly discuss the challenges that I face with them?

In dealing with other family members it's easier. I refer to them by first name only and I rarely disclose where they live. Even then I sometimes contact these family members first to make sure there is no objection to sharing particular stories.

Larry Lehmer

Thanks for your comments, Brenda. I wonder, too, about using real people's names as I save stories of my own past. The journalist in me says to use them, but the actual name isn't likely to be important to anyone else not already familiar with the story. It's a conundrum, for sure.

Bill West

I've thought about this many times. My use of names vary according to the situation. If I am quoting or making use of someone else's
research on my blog I get their permission to use it first and give their full name on the blog. For some of the newfound cousins who I've been in contact with, I use initials unless or until I have permission to use their full name.And if one of those new contacts asks me for an email address of another, I tell them I need to see if that second person is willing to give their email address out. This happened recently with my two newly discovered cousins and once I had permission I gave the address.

It's a different world out there from when I was a kid. I posted wedding pictures last year of my niece and nephews and I hesitated
doing it because of the predators out there.

Marlys Styne

1. I have done quite well with my family history on line at Ancestry.com. I never looked for genealogy classes, etc. I'm now at the point where I would have to hire researchers in England to sort out the many John Marshalls among my ancestors (if, indeed, it could be done)to go further. I think I'll pass.

2. I'm not aware of any scandals in my family, and for the most part, they've been an open, law-abiding midwestern lot. So far, none of the living relatives have objected to what I wrote about them (and of course the deceased can't). I can see how this could be a problem in some families, however. I have used made-up names to hide the identities of a few friends and acquaintances if I'm not sure how they'd react.

Larry Lehmer

Bill: Your decision to exercise caution is wise, I think. It is, indeed, a different world these days.

Marlys: Sounds like you're doing well in your research. I'm still wrestling with the openness vs. privacy issue in my own family research. The democracy of the online world can be as problematic as it is helpful.

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