26 September 2014

What if Genealogy Books Were Banned?

Banned Books Week is coming to a close.

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

I looked at the list for 2013 and I couldn’t believe that the first title listed was Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.  Without that series to read, I’m not sure that my son would be as proficient a reader as he is today!  Here is a list of books banned by various governments around the world.  I also checked out the classic list of banned/challenged books to realize that I have read at least 27 of the listed books and the others I haven’t read because I just haven’t wanted to or I just didn’t know about them. Interestingly, many of those I read were while in High School and College or related to my education – they are so much a part of who I am ...

As the week of celebrating the freedom to read ends, I thought it appropriate for us to think about what if genealogy books were banned?  

In some regards we already deal with this issue when we talk about records access – aren’t we being “banned” from accessing records which might benefit our research?

Tracing the Tribe (The Jewish Genealogy Blog) back in 2009 had a post on this subject and suggested ...

Most voracious readers know that the quickest route to best-seller status is to have a book banned or challenged. It is good business for authors and publishers. Tracing the Tribe figures (tongue in cheek, of course) that for an author to really make it, they need to figure out a way to get their book banned so that it becomes a best-seller.

Hmmmm … any ideas on how we can get some really excellent genealogy books challenged and increase interest in the market for readers looking for the “really good parts”?

I see also that Thomas MacEntee (GeneaBloggers) posted Banned Genealogy Records? Open Thread Thursday? last year.  Obviously he and I extended our thinking the same way ...

What if censorship of this type made its way to records frequently used by genealogists and family historians?

Obviously a topic that we address frequently on this blog – access to records, most often by creating awareness to pending restrictive or denial of access legislation.  The best way to keep informed about these issues besides reading Upfront with NGS (we try to post any records access issues ASAP when brought to our attention) is to follow the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC).

What are your thoughts?  Are there any genealogy books that we can “challenge” so that they become must reads?

Are there genealogy books which are “truly” at risk to being banned?  

What about records that we currently have access to and for which such access is now more restrictive (ala changes in what is included in the SSDI and in access to the DMF)?

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