I am dangerous when I hit a snag in my own research.
I begin casting around for other family lines I can untangle. The first time I did this, it was three o’clock in the morning and I was so insomniac it very literally hurt. With nothing to do, I hopped on to Ancestry.com and began typing in my husband’s family surnames with wild abandon.
Two hours later I had a basic tree of five generations and several additional goodies like a digital copy of his great-grandfather’s World War I draft card. And, on top of it all, the soothing act of research had calmed me down enough so that I could fall asleep. A winning situation all around.
But in the morning, when I presented my husband with my findings, his reaction was a mixture of delight and mild unease.
“You did all this last night?”
“Don’t you have your own family to look up and stuff?”
“Well, yes, but I’ve kind of hit a brick wall with my research so I thought I’d start in on another family.”
I realized I was beginning to sound slightly neurotic, and so changed the subject. But it got me thinking: how ethical was it for me to be digging into another family’s past? Now granted, my husband is my family, technically, but I could also see his point of view. It seemed more than a bit weird that someone would spend the wee hours of the morning compiling someone else’s pedigree chart unbidden. Fair enough.
But the thing is, I still work on his family tree when I can’t sleep. And because I want to avoid as much marital strife as possible, I’ve stopped mentioning it. Problem solved, right?
Nope. Now I feel like a bizarre, nerdy criminal.