Welcome to week 25 of my Genealogy challenge, from the wonderful Amy Johnson Crow, of writing something about your Ancestors for a whole year, #52Ancestors in 52 weeks. This weeks prompt is ‘Unexpected’ and there can be lots of hidden secrets within a Family and as family Historians, we can uncover secrets and stories, that may have been hidden and buried for generations, from unexpected pregnancies and unexpected DNA results, to long lost siblings and adoption. These all form part of the fabric that makes us who we are today.
Rather than focus on a specific moment within my own family and believe me there have been many unexpected events, I thought I would focus more on what to do with the information once you discover it.
The potential to upset and destroy lives today, is equally as relevant as the moment that the unexpected event occurred. I always ask myself, “what would I do if that person were alive today and in the room with me”. Would they be happy with me telling a wider audience their secret? Using that as my moral compass has stood me in good stead over the years. We can’t pick and choose who our Ancestors were, or what they did, the records sometimes speak for themselves, but we can sometimes be mindful of the lives of those living today and maybe document what we have found, but not publish this in a public platform. Each story and secret will be individual to each family and what’s right for me, might not necessarily be right for you.
When you set off tracing your Family History you never quite know what twists and turns lie in wait for you, sometimes we find out things that we never expected to find, so be prepared for that. Expect the ‘unexpected’, but be mindful of the consequences of what you discover, sometimes the burden of knowledge can be a heavy burden to carry.
So yes, I have my fair share of ‘unexpected’ events in my Family Tree and my Family Story, do I need to share them all? Of course not. They all form a part of the fabric that makes me who I am today, but that doesn’t mean that we have to share every ‘Family Secret’. Some things are best left unsaid…………
If you have made an unexpected discovery yourself, whilst researching your own family tree, I would love to know how you went about the decision process of whether to record your discovery or keep it hidden?