Genealogy – To Share or Not to Share

12 Jun

I am excited to tell you that I finally bit the bullet and launched my own genealogy website (and probably bit off more than I can chew too!)  You can go to the “Family Tree” tab above and check it out.  It’s very much a work in progress.  Right now my head is spinning …. HTML, FTP, SQL, CSS….what the heck is all that?!  It’s my hope that I’ll be able to personalize the website as I learn more….but like I said….”very much a work in progress.”  I’m shocked I’ve gotten this far!

The actual genealogy database is set on private.  I have a lot of “clean-up“ type things that still need to be done (reattaching photographs, stories from, etc.).  So in other words, if you wish to view it you will have to make a request.  You can do this via the “Contact Us” tab which is located on the upper right hand side of the page under “Information.”  This will generate an email to me, and I in turn will issue you a user name and a password to access the database.

And this then brings me to my dilemma – setting the database on private in some ways defeats the purpose of having a website in the first place.

On the one hand I feel that if I make the genealogy available to the general public, then I will lose control over the information and how it is used.  I must face the reality that my research could appear in places which I don’t intend for it to be – such as paid commercial databases, etc.  This genealogy database represents untold hours of labor.  I even fell and broke my foot while hunting down a tombstone in a local cemetery!  All this for the ancestors!  For a short time when I was first starting with my tree was public and people would just come along and in one full swoop gobble up information that took me months upon months to compile.  Never a hello…a thank you…or a trading of information.  It was disconcerting also to see photographs of our dear grandparents posted on user sites who had only a distant relationship.

On the other hand, there is no doubt in my mind that family researchers should and in fact must share their information.  It is completely necessary in order to be successful.  I have made countless friends along the way, connected with distant cousins, and even reconnected with family members.  Many of the photographs that are most special to me have come generously from other researchers.  Should I then be hoarding my genealogy database?  Could my accurately documented and sourced database be a way to combat the misinformation that’s “out there” on some of our family lines?  By way of example, my husband’s ggg-granfather, Tilman P. Curbow, appears in 11 public trees on  All 11 trees contain gross errors in them – which just keep getting passed on from tree-to-tree.

To share or not to share….what do you think?


Posted by on June 12, 2011 in Odds and Ends


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8 responses to “Genealogy – To Share or Not to Share

  1. broeder10

    June 13, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Your blog is just excellent. Well done and interesting.

    • Judy Curbow

      June 13, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      Thank you! I appreciate that!

    • Rex Faulkner

      October 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      I think we should proceed with caution when we share private information with “the world”. There are a lot of people that could and would use it for harm. I usually freely share my database with “family” and that by email attachment or CD. There have been occasions in the past that my info was posted by others openly. My sister chastised me sorely too when she Googled dad’s name and came up with so much. She has had her identity stolen at an expense and lot of work to resolve.

      I am very interested in genealogy and like my date to include all data possible but also think we should consider others before we freely post to 3 billion people worldwide.

      Rex Faulkner

      • Judy Curbow

        October 13, 2011 at 12:42 pm

        Hi Rex – thanks for your comment. I agree with you. I decided that all living people are private and that’s that. Unfortunately, not much is private these days, right?! But why make it easier for those with bad intentions. I think it’s good genealogy practice to keep living people private at all times. No exceptions. Thanks for your input. Judy

  2. Susan

    June 14, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Congratulations on getting the website up and running! I’ve been working on one for months, but it’s been moved to the back burner for now.

    As to sharing, one of the main reasons I started blogging was to share research I’d done that challenged (corrected!) information on public family trees. Many of the posts specifically target the more glaring errors. I have posted a stripped down, unsourced (so far) tree on RootsWeb World Connect with the hope that people will contact me. Frankly, I’d be thrilled if some of these trees were corrected with my research. I do intend to post a public sourced family tree on and World Connect at some point (when I finish getting the non-Ancestry sources added). I’m not sure about photographs or stories. I’m more comfortable with those on the blog.

    Short answer – I’d rather see the best available information out there.

    • Judy Curbow

      June 17, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      Susan – thank you for your insights. I’ve been wrestling with this all week. And I conclude that you are correct, and I’ve made the website available for all to see…(keeping living people private of course). If people are sincere in their research – they will find the correct (sourced) information on my site….and if not, they can just keep copying and passing on the bad information. I can’t control that….but you’re correct – at least I am trying to combat it by making the correct info available. Thanks!

  3. Jo Meyer

    September 29, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I have been thinking of a blog with select member viewing myself. I guess I should check here to see how it goes. That way I can put my documents from ancestry there as a proof….. and people who wish to see all that can.
    Have you had many requests?

    • Judy Curbow

      September 29, 2011 at 9:56 am

      I actually decided to set up a separate website ( using The Next Generation of Genealogy Site Building. I’ve made it public for everyone to view. All information on living individuals are suppressed and only immediate family is given username and password. As to deceased people – all that is viewable. At the end of the day I decided that I wouldn’t hoard my research – rather share the correct and sourced information. So much bad information out there on the internet. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. Thanks for stopping by. Judy


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