Monday, March 16, 2009

Survey Results

Thank you for resonding to my survey of the type and time period public records should be available on this blog.

Not one person expressed concern over the types of records that have appeared on this blog. Several mentioned the use of the federal government's 72 year restriction on access to census records as an appropriate restriction for online records. That means that public records prior to 1937 are acceptable for online use. A couple of people believe that any public records should be made available as long as the persons mentioned are no longer living.

I appreciate your comments and if you have not yet let me know your opinion, you may still do so by leaving a comment at the end of this post or sending an email to me at A little later I plan to define my personal policy for using public records online and will post it here.


LSW said...

I was out of town or you know I would have been contributing my opinion already. I have a couple of criteria I use, first and foremost being the 72 years guideline. If it pertains to an touchy topic, then I have an arbitrary 100 years guideline, because I figure everybody concerned is dead at that point. These two time guidelines I use when the records are readily available to anyone who wants to go to the courthouse and dig them out.

I did find some troubling records that indicated an ancestor may or may not have been guilty of child molestation and I too the additional step of polling several of the older members of my family before I aired the dirty laundry. If any had expressed unease, I would probably have sat on the story until that generation had died out.

There are family records that I continue to sit on even though the aforementioned time guidelines have passed and where the records are not so readily available. This usually occurs when I find out something from unrecorded sources that are sensitive and that members of the family will only reluctantly confirm. If the source does not have general historical value that will be useful to other researchers, then I see no point in distributing the information outside the family in question.

Bet you wish I would just give a straight answer, huh?


Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG said...

Thanks, Cindy. I only want to publish material that is helpful in genealogical research - not to sensationalize an event - and I, too, have sat on potentially harmful material rather than run the chance of upsetting someone. However, people should realize that public records are just that - they are open to anyone to view and, most likely, an unusual event has already been published in the newspaper.