Privacy Policies

Should living individuals be included in this database? What are the HFA policies regarding living individuals?

Some people advocate the complete exclusion of living individuals from genealogy databases. But... this is highly controversial and by no means unanimous.

Some databases show only a name for a living person, but no dates, places, etc. No details. Some members of our HFA group have expressed an interest in this level of privacy.

However, many others feel just the opposite - they want to see a full and complete record and biographical sketch on their own page (its something about seeing your own web page - your name "up in lights"). Some people have expressed a strong wish to include every minute detail.

So it has been our group's policy to leave these issues up to the living individuals themselves. We can show as much or as little detail as desired:

Privacy Policy #1
It is our policy to follow the desires of living individuals with respect to what information they wish to have displayed about themselves in our database.

Furthermore, it is expected that when people submit data on other living relatives that they should acquire whatever permissions might be needed before submitting. If you are not sure, ask your relatives what their preferences are before submitting data:

Privacy Policy #2
It is always assumed that whatever information is sent as a contribution is clear to include in the database unless otherwise noted (including the submitter's name and email address, for the benefit of anyone who might want to discuss the submitted information, again unless otherwise requested; keep in mind that all email addresses shown on this site are encoded to hide them from automated spambots/harvesters).


Privacy Policy #3
It is always assumed that public records (public government vital records, Social Security Death Index, city and phone directories, already-published material, etc.) is acceptable to include in the database, unless otherwise notified.

We will of course always honor requests for privacy, so it's perfectly ok to send a data file and at the same time mention "please leave out details on Aunt Martha" [which will of course be done]. It's also easy to make changes later, so for example if you find a relative who later expresses privacy wishes (one way or another) then we can easily change the database.

We do of course try to encourage people to not get carried away with privacy concerns to the point of limiting the usefulness of our project. The first major genealogical work on our family was the book "The Hinshaw and Henshaw Families". When this work was completed in 1911 it included all details on all then-living individuals. As a result, we can today find our grandfathers listed in that book. It would have been a shame to have excluded one or two whole generations.

Our group's stated goal is to try to bring the Hinshaw and Henshaw story up-to-date (to current generations), and to then offer our collective work to various genealogy libraries "for posterity". We want our great grandchildren to be able to inherit our work and not to have to reproduce all of our hard efforts. This will not be possible if we exclude whole generations.

So moderation is probably the best compromise. It seems prudent to exclude Social Security numbers, home addresses, phone numbers, and the like (although these are often easy to get anyway from internet search engines). Some people might prefer to not show a birth date. Adoptions might be important to remain private. Most other biographical information is probably harmless and, for the sake of completeness of our work, should probably be included. But, as stated above, we will always follow the wishes of living individuals and show as much or as little as they desire.

P.S.: If your bank wants to use your maiden name, or your mother's maiden name, as some form of secret identification, then tell them that you do not want that information used for identification. Maiden names are much too easily available (excluding them from this site would accomplish little, as many states/counties make this information easily available and is hardly secret). Tell your bank to use alternate identification, and any reasonable bank will accomodate with something else (favorite pet's name, etc.).

Email Addresses

1. This is an entirely non-commercial site and group, with no affiliation whatsoever with any other organization or company. If you send information by email, or if you register your email address for automatic update notifications, then your email address will be used for that specific purpose only, and nothing else. No email addresses have ever been, nor will they ever be, sold nor distributed to any other persons, groups, organizations or companies.

2. Unless told otherwise, it is assumed that your email address can be used on appropriate pages where you have provided information. It is proper genealogical practice to show the source of information, so referencing you and your email address (in case anyone might want to seek more details etc.) is good practice. You can of course decline if you'd prefer to remain anonymous. Most people like to have their email address available to others - you never know when you might make contact with cousins.

3. All email addresses shown on this site are encoded in such a way that it is almost impossible for spammers to electronically "harvest" addresses (using "spambots" and similar technology). If you're receiving spam, it's because a spammer found your email address somewhere else - not here.

4. Our group makes use of a third party, RootsWeb (http://www.rootsweb.com), to operate our group's email discussion list. RootsWeb offers this as a free service to the genealogical community. We otherwise have no other affiliation or connection with RootsWeb whatsoever. At the time this group was started, RootsWeb was a non-profit organization; it has since been sold to Ancestry, Inc., a commercial enterprise. Ancestry, Inc. has said that they will not interfere with the free, non-commercial email lists operated by RootsWeb, but our group has no control over what RootsWeb, or its parent Ancestry, does or might do with its genealogical groups in the future. We'd prefer to be completely independent of RootsWeb, but alas they offer a service which we need (and it's free).

Home Page Return to Home Page