Back To Journal

To Research or Not To Research

By Shulamith Surnamer, May 2000

To research or not to research -- that’s not a question!
Whether ’tis more vital to e-publish 
The sum GEDCOM total of all my ancestral genealogy 
Or to hide the true lineage lore and dates behind a wall of privacy,
And, by filing away the data dossiers, effectively end them. To search, to investigate --
No more -- and by not sharing nor publishing the results, to say farewell to 
The unearthing and the locating of distant mishpacha
That I might otherwise be able to find, ‘tis a consequence
Greatly to be avoided. To research, to seek--
To pursue, perchance to unearth. Ay, there’s the true Up, Roots! quest.
For in hot pursuit of family history, what ancestral tidbits of unnerving truth surface 
When we have to the Archives gone just for this reason
Must give us pause. There’s the nexus
That makes a calamity out of the simple family history-lineage quest. 
For who would bear the whips and scorns of minor bureaucrats, foreign and domestic;
Th’ various archives’ slow response time; the mayven’s disdain for the newbie;
The endlessly incorrect, conflicting dates needing verification;
When she herself might conclude her family quest 
Just by shutting off the FTM program on the PC? Why else would genealogists bear 
To travel to archives and cemeteries in foreign lands --a weary life --
But that the dread of not learning one’s tenth great grandparent’s name
That self-directed lineage labor, from which assignment
No one can else can ever free us, 
Makes us ever more key in the new data we just found 
Than switch to the other things we should actually be doing?
Thus, genealogy does make compulsive addicts of us all, 
And thus, the full story of the Langer-Surinamer-Van Coerland-Weber-Backer- 
Balinky-Lepar-Klompus-Caplan Clan
Will finally be related along with documentary proof of certified birth, marriage, death, and naturalization.
But can the tales of great ancestors and their living descendants ever be told 
Even via computerized GEDCOM or handpainted tree, as their stories turn, shift, 
Unfolding o’er various times and climes, in Litvakia and America? 
But, here it, inevitably, comes now, 
The genuine genealogist’s unbiased, documented account!
O, Root Seeker, in thy true reportage
May all thy relatives be accounted for.

about the author
Shulamith Surnamer