Genealogy vs Family History


Genealogy vs Family History…things that cause people to rear a bunch of bullying ugliness online. Really? I am not sure why it has come to this. Yesterday on the Irish Genealogy Facebook group (sorry I refuse to link the site) there was a large discussion about what is acceptable to discuss. Genealogy, names and dates is an acceptable conversation to have. Things that happened in the past is not. It started with an article from Irish Central about the mass grave of 800 orphan babies in County Galway, Ireland. It’s not the first article, remember Philomena or the other unwed mothers I wrote about? It will not be the last, that I can promise you.

The Argument

Religious differences I guess. Or the fact that we cannot discuss what happened to these orphaned babies or their mothers because today’s catholic people are getting upset about it. I am not catholic, I do not blame you for this if you are catholic. This is out of our hands, we did not do it and we are not responsible for the sins of our ancestors.

Let me disclose that I was not a part of this discussion and came into everything after the fact. This discussion thread must have gotten very heated because it was not only deleted, but two different people posted on the group page they were leaving the group. Really, we cannot have an adult discussion about what has happened? Is this not a part of history of someones family? Don’t these babies deserve to be placed on someones family tree? I was utterly disgusted at the thought that an adult conversation could not be had and that some people felt that this should not be discussed because it does not pertain to genealogy.

My Thoughts and Posts

As a genealogist who has been searching for answers to many questions about my own family,  I am outraged that we are being censored by any group. I agree that abusive replies should be deleted and the person dealt with, even if you have to delete them from the group. To the bullies that are on these groups, you need to be dealt with as well. If you are not an admin for the group, you have no right to tell me or anyone else in the group that social history is NOT a part of genealogy. I do not care what you think, and I would never try to change your views. So, please leave me to mine. I play nicely with others and just want to learn more about my ancestors and the times and events they lived through. I do not need to tell you or anyone else why.  If you do not agree, that is fine. We live in a time when we are allowed to have different thoughts on everything. There is no king here to tell you that you must follow a certain church.  Leave me and the others to what we want to discuss. If the topic does not interest you, scroll on to the next topic. My feelings will not be hurt that you did not join in on the discussion.

Also, to the woman who told me that social history is not a part of genealogy and earlier posted a lengthy story about her grandparents in NY. You proceeded to tell us all about the orphans and what the grandparents lived though. Guess what, that my dear is social history. Do you see how it is an important part of what your grandparent lived through. It gave you a brief glimpse of the life they lived. You are welcome for that little lesson, it’s on the house.

Genealogy vs Family History

Guess what, they go together. Yes, genealogy usually is the study of your pedigree. Moving back generation by generation. But, why do you want to stop at names and dates? Don’t you want to know why your great grandparents emigrated from their native land? Or why a certain person in your family acts the way they do? Guess what, if you look at the social history you get those answers. Genealogy is not in this huge argument against family history. They go together, and make your knowledge of your family stronger. I know I have learned so much about my present family members by studying those that have come before me and I would not have it any other way.

The Conclusion

You are entitled to your opinion, as am I. Do not try to bully me, you will find that I will not back down. Enjoy your research, read what you want and leave the rest of us be.

To all the admins out there, if you insist on deleting full threads of conversation because a few people find it inappropriate you should rethink the way you handle things. Just deleting the full thread tells us that you want to censor things. I live in America and have the freedom of speech, yes you are fully within your rights to delete said post. But, I am within my right to say my piece. I did not bully or threaten anyone. I would suggest that you take the matter up with those that insist on being offensive and make sure that your groups members do not feel welcome. Your group of 10,000 people can easily go to 0.

I do not plan to leave your group, but I do plan to move forward stating my thoughts as others should as well. Play nice in the sandbox people, you catch more flies with honey.


For more information on the travesties that occurred in Ireland involving unwed mothers, see The Magdalene Sisters (movie),  Banished Babies: The Secret History of Ireland’s Baby Export Business,  and Lost Child of Philomena Lee The Heartbreaking Story of a Mother and the Son She Had to Give Away.




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    1. Thanks, Terri. I really spent way too much of my time on this last night and even after it ended I felt I had to say more. It takes a lot to get me to that point. I just really wanted to express that we all have different views, and each of our views are important.

    1. Thanks, Barbee. It is sad to say that some of these people are still going at it today. Posting that those who wish to discuss history need to get off the genealogy group. Except, they can tell the stories of their ancestors that include the history. It makes no sense.

  1. Genealogy is history so to not be able to discuss it on a genealogy site is crazy! A common occurrence in both genealogy and history is discovering unpleasant things, so one should almost expect to find it from time to time. Here’s to hoping everyone can be a little more opened minded and to try to get along easier with others — it really shouldn’t be that hard!

    1. Colleen, I am glad to see that others agree. I have to admit the issue has not been resolved and many more people have made the comment to keep history off the genealogy page. I continue to shake my head.

  2. Thank you for your post. It amazes me when people like to separate history, oral history from genealogy. Cyber-bullying is cruel and uncalled for. Moderating a group, one should leave their emotions out of it and do just that, moderate. Everyone has a right to their opinion and to delete a whole thread is showing how much they really care for history and documentation.

  3. Unbelievable that people would not understand that family history is a part of genealogy. It is the motivation behind so much that our ancestors did. People may not want to talk about the shot gun wedding of their grandparents but it sure was a motivation behind their actions.

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