Have you ever played the telephone game where one person in a group whispers a message to another person? Everyone continues to whisper the same message throughout the group until the last person repeats the message out loud for all to hear. Only to find out that what was revealed by the last person isn’t even close to the original message. Don’t know about you but this sounds like some of my past research projects. It appears that some of our ancestors have been playing this game for many years.
All joking aside you know it’s true and many of us have had to tell either our own family members or our clients that every story pasted down through their ancestors isn’t completely accurate. Sometimes that can be a difficult task to face and truthfully it can be very touchy at times. I know I’ve been faced with this multiple times. Explaining something as light as their ancestor’s actual date of birth is off by a month to letting them know that their great grandparents actually aren’t a blood relative at all. I have gotten mixed reactions, as is to be expected, when placing this documented find in their report and discussing it. I’m not sure how everyone else’s feels about situations like this.
I personally take a professional stand point with a heavy dose of compassion. I’ve been hired to research their family, and in doing so I provide “all” information and documentation to support what I have found. In doing so they might find what they were told in that “ancestral telephone game” isn’t completely accurate. Once my research is completed and I’ve given them their report it’s up to them to do what they will with the information. I know that I did my job that I was hired to do and provided them with a complete report and documents to support. It’s not my job to pick and choose what stays in a report to fit in with the stories they have always been told.
We never know what the end results are in those ancestral telephone games, sometimes they can be viewed as normal and boring while other times intriguing and mysterious. But the important thing for me is to share the truth of what I have found. We can’t all be a decedent of royalty.