07 January 2013

Paying It Forward

If there is one thing I have learned in all the years I've been doing genealogy it's this:  it's all about sharing.  I can't count the number of times that some generous soul has furthered my research with a look-up, or a scanned document, or just an email saying I have the same ancestor, so let's share information!  Genealogists are generous souls.  They love to share their knowledge and pass it along.

That being said,  credit should be given when using another's work.  If you want to use something that I have created, send me an email and ask my permission.  More than likely I will give you that permission as long as you agree to give me credit for my work.  If I happen to post a photo of an ancestor that also happens to be your ancestor, send me an email and ask me for a scan.  I understand the excitement of coming across an unknown photograph of an ancestor you may never have seen before.  I have felt that same excitement.  Asking before you use it just builds goodwill.  I have come across a number of trees on Ancestry that have included pictures that I posted on FindaGrave. Actually they were screenshots of the whole page.  Not once have a I received an email from any of these people asking for permission or even for more information, although my email address is provided. This is just laziness and poor research coupled with bad morality.  

Since the title of my post is Paying It Forward , I guess I meant that to have a dual meaning.  Give credit where it's due and I'm more than happy to help you in your research.  Take my information without asking, and you can pretty much forget my help with anything.  Use my intellectual property as your own on a continual basis, and I will take action.  That is my rant for the day.  


  1. Interestingly, I just came across this issue within the past week - I found a couple of my FindAGrave photos in someone else's ancestry.com tree. I contacted her and copied and pasted from the FindAGrave FAQ about photograph copyright. I got a very nice apologetic email in return. She indicated that she would credit me for the photos (which is what I requested). She noted that since the FindAGrave index was in ancestry.com she thought that she could copy the photos. Makes me wonder about the benefit of Ancestry.com including an index for FindAGrave without some way to get Ancestry.com users to understand the FindAGrave "rules" (as well as copyright rules that genealogists should become familiar with early on...)

    1. You do bring up a good point. Ancestry should indicate in some fashion that the copyright rules for FindAGrave should be followed although you are being led there through Ancestry itself. Then again, Ancestry does let you know that you are going to another site altogether, so common sense should dictate that you would follow the rules for the site you are being led to. I don't think that a lot of people realize that they are actually "stealing" someone's work. I think a lot of it is just ignorance of proper genealogcial etiquette.