Family or otherwise – We all hide behind some veil or curtain. Why? Being exposed can be a harsh reality. How do we deal with it?

Secrets come down to ethics. What are ethics?

Definition of ethics: Oxford languages say:

  • moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity.
  • the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles.

Oxford Languages Copyright © 2023 Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


Toward the end of 2022, I attended a Zoom meeting held by the Shropshire Family History Society relating to ethics. One of the members provided comprehensive details about the subject. Fellow attendees contributed to the discussion. The subject was also detailed in the Society’s journal (Journal 43 – Part 4. December 2022 – pages 162-164). It provides food for thought.

As the article mentions, there is a code of conduct that many are not aware of especially “amateur” family historians. As I have previously mentioned in other blogs, HINTS can be a disaster. Everyone has to remember to ALWAYS verify ALL details i.e. source and cite. When making a find that may cause concern, everyone does need to look at all the implications not only on the deceased ancestor but those living relatives still out there. Some of these relatives may be none the wiser.

Secrets can be a very touchy subject. Everyone needs to ask themselves, “How do we deal with what we find?” There are no right or wrong answers. Then pops up the latest craze – DNA – I am no expert on this subject. However, ethics does play a very important role in any discovery. Who takes responsibility for what comes up? Do the companies who sell the product? Do the individuals who take the test? And, more importantly, those who ask other relatives to do a test, not knowing what outcomes there may be…

Think about this before diving in…

Family Tree.

Within every family tree, I would say there are secrets. Some are well hidden, and others are “right in one’s face”. These types of secrets only take a prod to expose. The well-hidden ones can cause shock. It is how we deal with the secret or secrets and our reaction to them.

What secrets have you found in your tree? Where have you noted your findings? Have you told anyone about what you found? If you did, what was their reaction? How would you deal with one of your own secrets coming out in the future? Would you like it or not?

It comes back too: Who do we tell? Why tell? When did the event or events occur? Were they made public in newspapers? Or were they just a family story? Then there is gossip… It can cause more harm than good. The heartache, the sadness for all involved. Who gets to decide? Every person will most likely have a different response.


Another thing to keep in mind is do you record your findings in your family tree? – knowing that in the future someone else may find what you wrote. Do you make a note for this future find explaining your reason or even otherwise for what you found.

In looking into the subject of “Secrets”, one may ask oneself many questions before making a choice or decision about what one does with the information. What would you do?


Oh, the joys of discoveries! Some are good, others, well you need to decide how you want to deal with them.

SECRETS… We all have them.

Will you be exposed?

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