Is there any guidance on attaching criminal records?
First I am wondering if FS has any general guidance on whether and when to attach criminal records to a profile.
Secondly, I have a test case to put out there with an invitation for thoughts or ideas for improvement.
I have a person (L6MY-QMM) who was sentenced for a fairly heinous crime. The young accuser later recanted their accusation (and then later recanted that) which eventually led to my person's parole. These details are just to outline the complexity of my person's situation.
By default, I'm disinclined to attach events or sources of severe crimes. I'm more flexible on minor offenses as they may follow unjust laws and don't badly reflect on character. For crimes like my person was accused of, I see little benefit from insuring these things follow them around after they've died. Doubly so since my person's guilt is far from sure.
All that said, there are newspaper clippings of his trial with important information. The articles mention his aged parents. This is important because we have little information about his father (his mother died in his infancy) - but living, aged parents indicate that his father remarried and both were alive at the time of his trial.
I believe these criminal sources are helpful to establishing details about his father. I wasn't able to turn them into records of his father but perhaps a later researcher will.
Thanks for your consideration.
"All that said, there are newspaper clippings of his trial with important information. The articles mention his aged parents. This is important because we have little information about his father (his mother died in his infancy) "
So I can only share personal preference and workarounds.
My direct and connected lines include family with newsclippings out there in public or paywall digital spaces to include suicide, fraud, theft, and gruesome hunting gun accident descriptions...
In general, our approach is to generally use genealogy research to document as accurate as a life story as possible without focusing attention to the extreme "negative". Even without knowing all details of a persons life, we believe there are boundaries and a general acceptance of grace and forgiveness......never preached ....just careful consideration. smile. others may approach differently and that is their choice.
Workarounds when the "more sensitive newsclipping" is the only key source to support the family or life story (maybe this fits your description lifted/quoted?) :
-type up an abstract story, and name it as such, with basics...and genealogical interest vitals (names, dates, locations) and typical source details: Paper name, pub. date , page no.
-digitally shorten the story to only include the genealogical interest vitals (basics, names, dates...etc). and include a typical source watermarked onto the image.
We have used one newsclipping with the theft, in full, when the direct ancestor was 10 years old and we explained digitally on the clipping image itself why included in our research: "Only source closest to birth that provides an age likely provided by his parents ....as all other available sources vary greatly over 5 years"..1
So there are several things to consider here. Any court documents or newspaper clippings that are in the public domain will very likely garner extremely little attention if they are more than 70 or 80 years old. There is just too much out there. You indicated everyone directly involved is now deceased, so in theory the facts can be added to the person pages. But, why would you do that? I say, if the current family members want it.
Thus, I recommend you take the wishes of current, living descendants into consideration.
I do family history for my greater family; in-laws, in-laws of in-laws, birth lines of adopted family members, etc. as well as my own and hubby's family. I have uncovered 3 family serious family secrets, one, a singular event far more heinous than your story. It happened 80+ years ago and the facts are largely in the public domain. However, many questions remain, and this family secret was so well guarded that current day family were completely unaware of it and went into deep shock when I presented them with the evidence. The grains of truth in lies they had been told began to take on new meaning. They actually had to go through a period of grieving. I have not added any online sources found in FamilySearch or Ancestry (I work these 2 sites in tandem while researching) because people have still processing it several years later. The descendant closest to me (family wise) went through a period of forwarding me questions from his relatives, which I would research and provide back evidence or non-evidence. I will never attach any online source without permission. It is no longer a buried family secret, but it is also not an event visible on person pages or in my Ancestry tree for that family.
Two other family secrets have emerged from my research. Neither of them are singular "events", but are rather unclear stories of sketchy things ancestors did during certain periods of their lives. In one case the direct descendants want me to discover as much as possible; in the other case they are not interested in pursuing it, so I have discontinued my research there. I have done what the families want.
Since it appears you are a direct descendant, how does your family feel? I would not put painful facts in person pages if people live today will be hurt. A family secret doesn't have to be documented online for it to be clearly understood by the modern descendants. If you know the name of his parents, it is very likely you will find additional evidence to further build your family. Census, vital records etc, will allow you to add family connections back in time with out revealing the serious incident you know about.
If you are considering uploading documents with graphic details, you'll want to review the Content Submission Agreement. And, if there are documents that are not available to the general public, you'll want to be aware of the position on Upload of Restricted Documents.3
@Harvest8 An abstract with minimal facts might be a good alternative to what I've done. I might also be able reupload the news clipping with unneeded details censored out.
I'll revisit the profile and see what I can lose.
I removed everything but the two articles that mention his aged parents. In those articles, I removed all legal details and left the info that establishes his father and stepmother were alive. I have an event titled Legal Proceeding; it links to those edited articles.
I think this largely resolves the concerns I read here (which I share).2