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High-Definition Genealogy High-Definition Genealogy by Thomas MacEntee provides various services to the genealogy and family history community including market research, consulting, education, and more.

24 March 2010 ~ 3 Comments

Sued For Genealogy Research – Could It Happen To You?

scales of justice

What if you could be sued for your genealogy research – even if it were true?  This is what happened to one of the authors of Weird Ohio which published a true story about one Ohio family’s history.  And a descendant brought a “false light” lawsuit against the authors.

A Genealogy Ghost Story

Making this long story short: a segment of the book recounted a mass murder by a family member and resulting ghost legends/stories at the location.  The plaintiff in the suit contended that such information caused visitors and “ghost hunters” to trespass on the properly and and bring “unreasonable publicity to one’s private life.”  You can read more about the lawsuit at the Oxford University Press USA website.  The Ohio Court of Appeals site has a recent opinion (opens in PDF) from 23 December 2009.

What isn’t clear even from my reading of the court papers is whether such a murder did in fact take place.  The issue seems to be the resulting “legend” and “stories” about the haunting of the location.

Could I Be Sued For Factually Correct Genealogy Research?

I don’t stay awake at night worrying about this but I guess it could happen if I were to add legends and mythology to a family history which can’t be proven through the Genealogical Proof Standard.  As a professional genealogist, I would want to – as Joe Friday would say – “just state the facts ma’am.”

It is one thing to make a conclusion as to relationships, offspring, etc.  It is another thing to try and validate local legends or family stories.  Care should be taken to document any “family stories” as to their source if they are used to “round out” research.  There are often living descendants who may not agree with the depiction of their ancestors.  Keeping to the facts – proven and properly sourced via citations – can help avoid any misunderstandings as to an interpretation of family history.

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Thanks to Mike Brubaker of History by Brubaker for alerting me and other genealogy bloggers to the recent lawsuit.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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23 March 2010 ~ Comments Off

Ancestry.com Transitions Publishing Assets

ancestry.com

Ancestry.com has announced an alliance with Turner Publishing to  transfer its publishing assets to Turner over the next few months.  Read more at the official press release here.

Given the recent shuttering of Ancestry magazine (see 15 January 2010 announcement on Ancestry Magazine’s website), it seems this is a smart move on Ancestry’s part.  Not only do the titles previously published by Ancestry become a part of Turner’s portfolio, but both companies will team up to produce and publish new titles for the genealogy industry.

I consider this more of an “outsourcing” than a “partnership” similar to what Ancestry has already done with its DNA testing division and working with 23andMe.   Prediction: the next step is for Ancestry.com to outsource its MyCanvas division.

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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19 March 2010 ~ 15 Comments

A New Beginning

First, welcome to my new website entitled High-Definition Genealogy.

Second, your next question should be: what will I find here?

After being laid off from my legal tech position in late 2008, and successfully launching the GeneaBloggers.com site in early 2009, I realized that what I originally identified as a classic “mid-life crisis” was actually an epiphany, a revelation.  I realized that I could make a career in the genealogy and family history industry if I put my mind and my might to it.  After all, I come from a long line of ancestors who not only faced adversity, but also sought creative ways to scratch out a living.

Third, the follow-up question naturally is: So how’s he going to do it?

I’ve come to the realization that although the field of genealogy has been around for centuries, since the advent of personal computers and the Internet in the late 20th century, the search for one’s ancestors has entered a new phase.

This phase is not what I would call “mature” but one of adolesence at least in respect to the technologies available.

My strong suit has always been the ability to make “non-techies” feel comfortable with technology whether it was the IBM PC in the 1980s or Twitter in 2010.  Not only can I use my skills to continue this message of “selectively chosen technologies openly embraced and purposefully applied can expand one’s genealogy experience” but I can also make a living doing so.

Finally, this site will be more than just a landing pad to engage my services as a lecturer, a writer or an educator.  In the coming weeks and months, look for market research services as they pertain to the genealogy industry.  I’ve come to the realization that as more people become interested in their own family history, they will become consumers of genealogy-related products.  There is a vast market out there – some have valued at over $1B in the United States alone – and no one seems to be tracking the demographics, the major vendors as well as the mom-and-pop operations and the startups.

In keeping with the television motif here at High-Definition Genealogy, stay tuned!

© 2010, Thomas MacEntee

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