Had a great hosted breakfast with Debra Mieszala, CG

Part of the cruise is what is called hosted breakfasts where one of the speakers makes themselves available for casual conversation over breakfast. You sign up for these like you do for the one-on-ones, as part of your “preference lottery.”*

This morning I had breakfast with Debra Mieszala, a genealogist with whom I was unfamiliar prior to this conference. Six of us met and the topics were wide ranging. We started by talking about copyright and plagiarism and the web, specifically common sites such as Wikipedia. Tho’ she has spoken on the topic she referred the group to Judy Russell and her blog, The Legal Genealogist, which I thought was a good referral. We did discus how the use (although still need to have citation) of photos found on US governmental sites is highly preferred.

We got into the discussion of how facts cannot be copyrighted and the willingness to share of the genealogy community; however, we all had examples of “sharing gone amok”! ….usually around information that is not correct Here is an example presented (with permission) by one of the attendees:

1. Two individuals work closely with one another on a common family line;
2. One individual, using the freely shared information of the other, publishes a book for sale of the family and provides free copy to collaborator (C).
3. C using information from book writer (BW) (from book and from emails with no caveats) inserts information provided (BMDB) into the data base, cites it appropriately and publishes it on rootsweb.
4. BW is incensed and says that the collaborator had no right to do that even though properly cited and no living people are included because she has a copyright on the data.
5. The ability to closely share between these two is terminated.

Since facts cannot be copyrighted but do need to be given proper attribution, Debra urged the person presenting the scenario to verify each data point independently and cite the new source instead of using BW’s emails, just to reduce the issue.

Another topic of conversation was adoption records in NY. Debra is an adoption intermediary, i.e. she works with both the birth family and the adoptee family to see if one wants to talk with the other and, if so, under what conditions. I also asked if, in her experience, files in Illinois that are sealed at the court level on a 1st cousin 3x removed who was confined in an “insane asylum” between 1878 and 1906 (died) because he was “insane”, could be “unlocked”. She didn’t know but urged me to contact the genealogy society there.

Lots of interesting topics. Thanks, Debra and the whole table for making interning scenarios for discussion.

Happy hunting!
From Skagway, Alaska,


What I have done since my last post: got the hubby to attend Thomas MacEntee’s session on “cloud computing”. Since I even knew what it was I am feeling pretty smart these days and even smarter because I use it!


2 comments on “Had a great hosted breakfast with Debra Mieszala, CG

  1. Jana Last says:

    Just wanted to let you know that your blog post is listed on today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2012/09/follow-fridayfab-finds-for-september-21.html

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