Saturday, June 5, 2010

Is there confidentiality if it's not your family?

I have researched a family that is not related to me at all.  It happened when I came across a newspaper article in 1888 while researching my family.  I became intrigued with the story and wondered about the outcome.  It was a story of a young nine year old girl who was "outraged" by her father and when she was convinced that she was safe from him, reported that he had killed her mother several months earlier.  I  could not get that little girl out of my head and wanted to know what became of her.

I subsequently learned quite a bit about the family as I researched it, and have written an article on the research.  Here's the dilemma...I am a little bit hesitant to do anything with the article (although I may put it up on this blog) because it is not my family.

Am I just being too conscientious and hung up on confidentiality, which, of course, I have no legal obligation to just feels strange to me.  I'm sure that if the subject matter wasn't so horrendous, I wouldn't feel these qualms.  Surely authors write about different issues/people without permission, especially if the events occurred over a hundred years ago.

So help me there any reason that I can't write and publish an article about a family not related to me?


  1. With something this far back, with all the players deceased, I don't see the problem. You are merely doing what reporters do. They aren't related to their subjects, either.

    Did you acquire the records on your own? Or did someone give them to you? Perhaps if someone else provided the details & documents, then you might need to ask permission. Otherwise, I see no problem in publishing the story.

  2. I agree. The players and very likely their children are all gone. Publish!