The Black Sheep Family Member
Everyone has them.
Nobody really likes talking about them.
Yeah, that happened.
Sometimes we will find documentation of black sheep ancestors or related events that aren’t particularly glowing or positive. Such findings are pieces of history, right? Yes, however, making the decision to share – or not – is an important consideration. Black sheep documentation may or may not add to telling your family’s story and stepping back to decide is necessary.
My opinion is that everyone makes mistakes and it’s probably even more important to document the stories about that person to provide as full of a view as possible, regardless of whether or not those stories are published. At least if we document said stories, we will have the opportunity see so much more about this person than just their mistakes.
Consider the Family
Will there be family members who are caused any type of pain or distress by publishing stories about a black sheep ancestor? Out of courtesy and respect for the remaining family members, we should at least ask, even if this information comes up in research queries from old newspapers. Causing a relative to relive a bad memory from the past can and should be avoided where possible.
While our black sheep ancestors may have histories that we’re not that proud of, we owe it to them and future generations, to do the best we can to show their human-ness and good qualities along with the not-so-good.
Don’t dismiss black sheep search results because it all counts, even if that information remains in your personal research archives and never sees the light of day.