As my Grandmother, the late Ruth Lane McGary, taught me the "how to's" of
genealogy. I never thought I would later pass her instructions to
me along to other researchers via this website. Mixed into her lessons were many
cautions and advisories.
This writing sums up what I learned about doing "Polite
"Polite" ways to do research goes way beyond just "do you have?"
Saying please every time.
I'll repay your costs
plus give you a fee.
I'll make it as easy as *I* can for you to help
I'll only ask for what I need, and if I find I need more
I'll wait a while in between
before asking you to help me again.
And I will thank you, first in my request, second if I have to
contact you while waiting, and third when or shortly
after I receive from you ANY answer,
even if your answer is "nothing found".
If I request by phone, I'll be sure to include postage when
I pay the fee, and if I request by regular mail,
I'll include a SASE for you to use.
you ask me to send loose stamps instead, I'll comply
because you know how I can best help you to help me;
I'll comply with most reasonable limitations you make
about helping me because I, too, want to act reasonably.
I do all this with the understanding that the genealogy
"hobby" may not always be the "cheapest" hobby, and
even Great Aunt Sally may need my money to send me
the papers / pictures / family treasures I have asked
her to share with me.
While it is
true that "Names and dates are not copyrightable",
the Court House / Historical Society / Genealogy Society /
Library / other source of records also must charge me fees
to obtain those names and dates if I am unable to appear in
person and look it up myself.
The Historical Society / Genealogy Society / Library do not
"make money off of me" for sending me what I request.
indeed, many of these organizations face annual fiscal deficits
for operations, salaries, overhead, and they need additional
financial help to buy new (or old) records and handy research items.
Before I complain about what a place did not give me for my research, I must remember to thank them double for simply staying open and allowing access to the records they have, then remember to thank them triple (profusely is a good word) when they have what I
need and fulfill my request for help.
Lastly, Grandma reinforced that it didn't matter where I found the information, date, name, fact I needed, but I should ALWAYS "Cite my sources and give credit where due".
Grandma understood the polite way to do genealogy,
long before the Internet became the latest research tool.