|Mrs. Emaline (Emma) Jeter, my 2nd Great Grandmother|
Honesty is not inherent in any medium. Honesty is inherent in a person.
Back in October of 2011, I was reading an article on ‘The Ethics Of Retouching’ by Kevin McNeal in Outdoor Photographer magazine. That’s where the statement comes from. See http://bit.ly/Pt13SK
This applies just as easily to genealogy and family history as it can to any craft.
The stories of our Ancestors are as honest as our telling and the context in which we place them. We gather our information from many sources:
- Oral history; stories told by our elders
- Official documents; vital stats as recorded by clerks
- Census records; as recorded by enumerators
- Photographers; portraits framed by backdrops and props
Once all of this information is gathered and placed in your hands, then and only then should the specter of honesty be demanded. It is your responsibility to consider all of the data and evidence and give it your best shot at interpretation. You are the last link.
If all of the data you have collected tells that your Ancestor was a slave owner, or a slave, or bi-racial, and you believe it to be evidently so, then you declare it so - with honesty.
Honesty is inherent in you. You were born to be truthful. Dishonesty or untruthfulness are learned constructs. Being dishonest and untruthful is just wrong.
We genealogists, family historians and even journalists need to review our data and ask ourselves; are we interpreting the stories of our Ancestors accurately and are we being honest in our tellings?