Editorial License

In “There’s a Story Behind the China,” I intentionally left out the name of the antique mall where the set of china was located. It was not germane to the story and I felt, given the situation and that the story really wasn’t about the specific location, that it was best to leave it out.

It’s editorial license. Some may say that any genealogical story needs to include every fact and every detail. It does not matter how banal, how trivial, or how potentially hurtful–include it all. While I understand the desire for genealogists to know everything, I also understand that sometimes certain details really are not necessary to tell a story. There are even times when the deceased need their privacy.

Even professional genealogists who abide by the genealogical proof standard occasionally do not include information in their written up proof based upon their evidence. Information not considered relevant to the problem is not included. Information having any bearing on the conclusion should be included.

There are other details, especially those obtained from personal interaction with a person, that can be left to the dustbin of history.

If you have personal knowledge of a relative whose behavior changed while they were ill or under some medical treatment, or under the influence of drugs, is it necessary to pass that information on to future generations? The specific details of some interactions are not necessary for future generations to know one blow at a time. Sometimes it is sufficient to indicate that the individual had certain challenges or issues as the result of some treatment, trauma, or medication and leave it at that.

In “Dealing with the Strain” ways for handing and discussing “falling outs” were discussed. That discussion is relevant here as well.

When writing up a family story ask yourself how much detail is necessary to tell the story?

Would you want every detail or your life recorded for future generations?


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