The Genealogy Guys take a stand
George Morgan and Drew Smith are The Genealogy Guys — educators, writers, speakers, and producers of the popular podcast by the same name.
They have long been counted among The Legal Genealogist‘s friends.
And never have I been prouder of that fact — prouder of them, and their courage — than I am today.
You can see from the banner of their website that, yesterday, they listed five sponsors: MyHeritage, RootsMagic, Vivid-Pix, Newspapers.com and Find A Grave.
As of this morning, they have three sponsors.
At midnight last night, George and Drew terminated their sponsorship by Find A Grave and its sister Ancestry site Newspapers.com over the failure — indeed, the refusal — of Ancestry to take meaningful steps even in the wake of the Uvalde shooting tragedy to enforce genealogical ethics on its Find A Grave site.1
Their reasons are clearly stated in their blog this morning. Speaking for their corporate entity, Aha! Seminars, Inc., they wrote:
The genealogical community has repeatedly requested that Ancestry.com, the parent company of Find a Grave, establish ethical policies and processes for controlling the addition of memorial records at its site. These include, but are not limited to, preventing “volunteers” from creating memorials indiscriminately for anyone they choose, especially for the recently deceased to whom they have no connection. Ancestry.com has incentivized such activity by publishing the number of memorials created by individuals. Ancestry.com has further encouraged competition by publishing announcements on Facebook and elsewhere naming “Volunteer of the Month’ for the number of new records created.
Within hours of the identification of victims of the recent massacre at the public school in Uvalde, Texas, “volunteers” added memorial pages for Find a Grave for the victims. These “volunteers” were not family members and did not have complete or correct personal information for the victims. These people usurped the rights of families. The genealogical community has been outraged that Ancestry.com has not implemented ethical and respectful policies that prevent this egregious activity by non-family members and impose a respectful delay on when and by whom memorials for recent deaths can be created.
Aha! Seminars, Inc., contacted an Ancestry.com representative to appeal for changes and received boilerplate responses that neither acknowledged the problems nor indicated that any changes were forthcoming. Those boilerplate responses were apparently sent to all persons who contacted Ancestry.com to complain.
Inasmuch as Ancestry.com has continually failed to address the problems and develop responsible, ethical, and respectable policies, especially after the Uvalde massacre, Aha! Seminars, Inc., no longer wishes to have Ancestry.com’s subsidiaries, Find a Grave and Newspapers.com as sponsors of our podcast. We invoked cancellation clauses in the sponsorship contracts and effected the discontinuation of the sponsorships effective June 30, 2022.2
Folks, it takes a special kind of courage to take this kind of action. Many many members of the genealogical community have pleaded with Ancestry to act in a meaningful way. We’ve spoken out out directly and as powerfully as we can. But George and Drew have done so in a way that affects them in their pocketbook. They have literally put their money where their mouth is. They have shown, in the most direct way possible, the courage of their convictions.
In their blog post, The Genealogy Guys concluded: “We hope that Ancestry.com will take action on this long-standing problem.”3
So do we all, my friends.
So do we all.
Ancestry… are you listening?
Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “The courage of their convictions,” The Legal Genealogist (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : posted 1 July 2022).
- See generally Judy G. Russell, “Ancestry, this one’s on you,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 31 May 2022 (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 1 July 2022). ↩
- George G. Morgan and Drew Smith, “Genealogy Guys Podcast Terminates Sponsorships by Find a Grave & Newspapers.com,” The Genealogy Guys Blog, posted 1 July 2022 (http://blog.genealogyguys.com/ : accessed 1 July 2022). ↩
- Ibid. ↩