"I am following the methodology you outlined in your post "Starting at the Very Beginning", and I've run into a bit of a dilemma. Given today's focus on privacy and issues with identity theft, I'm not sure how to properly document living people.
How much official documentation do you keep in your files for living people? For instance, do you have a copy of your own birth certificate, marriage license, etc., in your files? What about your children, spouse, siblings, etc,?
I have birth certificates, religious documents and other official documents for myself, my wife and our children. Should I include these items in my files, or should I cite personal knowledge and leave the official items of living people out of my files?"
Excellent question! I keep ALL documentation in my files on everyone, living or dead. However, I never share info on living people. Not only do I have documents for my immediate family but I have stuff on a lot of other people too. There are many records that are public record including marriage licenses and divorce decrees. All court documents are public record unless they concern a juvenile or they have been sealed. The state of Texas happens to be pretty liberal with birth certificates so I have a bunch of those. I have newspaper articles that mention living persons. I also have home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses for many people documented right in my database file. If I send anyone a portion of my file it will be "cleaned" of living persons. If I posted my file on the internet (which I don't do) my file would be cleaned of all living persons.
All of the genealogy database programs have the ability to export data excluding living persons. You can exclude them completely like they never even existed, you can export their names but no information about them, or you can export with all of the names changed to the word "Living." If you upload your file to a website like Ancestry.com, the website itself can also clean your file but many people neglect to use this feature. Ancestry.com goes so far to say that their upload process automatically cleans files of living persons when you upload but their system is far from foolproof because a lot of guessing goes on when the uploader is missing a lot of dates. I have seen information on living people in some of the trees on Ancestry.com and it makes me cringe a bit.
As far as my paper files, they are in my house and no one has access to them, even the documents for dead people. I am more than happy to copy a document (on a dead person) for someone but I want to know who that person is and how they are connected. I also provide a complete citation as an encouragement to cite their sources properly.
Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis