In Genealogy: Let’s All Take PRIDE in our Family Trees
It is impossible to pick up a newspaper or watch a news program and not read about the equality movement, or as some call it, the new civil rights movement. Finally American society all around us seems to be changing and, in this case, changing for the better. State after State are enacting long overdue legal reforms designed to insure equality for many more Americans. Equal legal footings for same sex marriages, LBGT equal rights in the workplace, and more are sweeping our Nation. And for good reason!
All one needs to do is re-read the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution for what is termed the ‘Equal Protection Clause’. This clause states, simply and quite eloquently, that no State can deny United States citizens “equal protection of the laws”.
So it should be with our genealogy and family trees. We, as genealogists, who pride ourselves on finding “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” about who our ancestors were, where they lived, what occupations they held, where they are interred, etc. need to be just as determined in our pride to have our family trees and genealogy reflect ALL the people in our families.
Personally I use Family Tree Builder genealogy software made by MyHeritage.com for our family tree. This allows for all manner of equal representation within our family tree. I suggest you make certain that your software does the same. No longer is the excuse ‘my program won’t let me show a same sex marriage’ acceptable.
Again, in our quest for accurate and truthful genealogies, we must be certain to also reflect that some in our family tree are adopted, came to be created by ‘artificial’ insemination, surrogate mothers, etc.
The 1950s are long gone and so should the unnecessary shame and ignorance that were so prevalent at that time in matters regarding single parents, adoption, race, sexual orientation, mixed marriages, divorce, and more.
Just as we would not dare to manufacture some artificial history for one of our ancestors, so we should not dare to be anything less than FULLY open and honest with any and all matters of fact for our family trees and in our genealogy. Certainly I would not disgrace my immigrant great grandfather who came from Bohemia in 1866 by saying he was a Mayflower descendant. Likewise I would not dare to disgrace a same sex couple by not representing their lives, love, and commitment properly in our family tree.
Not long ago I found myself having a discussion with a genealogy fan who took great pride in explaining to me that she had been working for years and years to try and find the link in her family tree to a family story of having a Native American ancestor. Yet in this same conversation this same genealogist proclaimed that she would never reflect a same sex marriage in her tree and would not add any photographs of her mixed race niece and nephews. I asked her what the difference was and pointed out that a mixed race marriage of a white woman and a Native American man back in the 1890s might well have been seen as scandalous. After some stammering on her part our conversation ended. I guess all I can say is that she considered it genealogically ‘acceptable’ to have a Native American ancestor, but not people of certain other races or sexual orientation. So here was a genealogist who was spending years trying to find one fact for her family tree while admitting that she considered other facts to be unacceptable for inclusion in that same family tree.
It is time for every one of us genealogy fans and family historians to paint each of our family trees in the rainbow that has come to represent equality and acceptance of all peoples.
To those of you who already have that rainbow arcing over your family tree, I say to you: ‘Hear, Hear’!
Onward To Our Past® with PRIDE!