Monday, June 30, 2008

The Dissemenation of Our Family History

Periodically, I Google my online identity, Valeehill, to see where it is besides where I've put it myself.

Recently, I was surprised by a huge number of search returns related specifically to my mother's Certificate of Live Birth that I had on my old genealogy site. My mother was born in 1930 and passed away in 1963. I ordered a certified copy of this record from the Hawaii State Department of Vital Records in 2002 and posted it on my site in November 2006.

My first inclination, after reading quite a few of the items yielded in the search, was to remove the document. (I am very protective of the memory of my mother, especially since I have no real memories of her.) I continued reading and did not come upon anything I considered outright disrespectful, so I have left the certificate up for now.

When I made the decision to post documents and photos of my deceased relations, I certainly didn't foresee any of the documents being used in the way that bloggers have chosen to use this one.

I did receive an email from someone on June 13. That person wrote the following: "In honor of your beautiful efforts to uncover the magic of your past that is its people, I wanted to share the following...." Below the single line he had embedded the two certificates from the search linked above.

I was contacted by someone yesterday asking some questions about the certificate and how I would like to be acknowledged in his blog post. This is my first reply from yesterday:

You are the first person to mention that you are using my mother's birth certificate for this unexpected reason. I am not thrilled, to say the least; but it was my decision to share it, even if it was purely for genealogical purposes. This "Decosta COLB," as you refer to it, is the birth certificate of my beloved mother, who died when I was four. I would appreciate any mention of it to be respectful to her memory.
After this person's polite reply and further questions about the document, I wrote:

I don't wish to have any specific reference made to me, but it is mildly upsetting to see the legal affirmation of my mother's birth reduced to "Decosta COLB" all over the Internet. I scanned the document immediately after receiving it in the mail in 2002, so the folds were exaggerated…. I guess I shall continue to be on the lookout for how it is referenced and go from there. My first feeling was to take it down….
So, here is my question. Have any of you fellow genealogists had your work (documents) used in such a way? I do not want political debates or conspiracy theories, but I am curious about how our work is being disseminated on the Internet so I can be more aware.

Thank-you!

(*2/22/2011--this post required the updating of an outdated link.)

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