Quoting another persons memories of an ancestor

+3 votes
67 views
I would like to quote memories of my ancestors written by people who are now deceased.  The memories would make the profile much more interesting than just the timeline I can provide.  However, some of the terms that have been used in these text, which were at the time considered "normal speech" are now considered derogatory.  Or sometimes the text may name a living person. How do I quote these writings without including the the above?  Is there a recognizable replacement to show I have deleted a word or name but still keep the integrity of the original text?
asked in Policy and Style by Susan Fox G2G Crew (560 points)
I actually just did this, sort of, like an hour ago.

I have a family history paper that was written by a cousin of my grandfather.  I've never met the guy, but that paper is what started it all.  

I was having a very hard time finding sources for his information, so I decided to type it all out word for word in a separate section on the person it was about.  I decided to do this AFTER finding an alternate source for the same information of course, but who knows, somebody might make a new discovery because I wrote it out anyway.
I’m conflicted over this issue, too. I was raised in the rural South, a descendant of six Confederate veterans. In today’s political climate, it makes things difficult to be an inheritor of the pride that my grandparents had in their heritage. We often want to be respectful of the memories of our forebears, without looking at them with rose colored glasses. That given, I want to honor my grandfather who shared many of the stories of his ancestors, but am I being honest in not including some of the things that he expressed in the attitude of the Old South? When my grandmother talked about other relatives, do I include that she called her Uncle Cy Brown “Cy Brown the Drunk?” How about “Beulah the Nut,” as she called Grandpa’s cousin. (For years, I didn’t know them as anything else.) No, I won’t include those kind of memories.

Letters, however, constitute another problem. These aren’t memories, but statements of the times. Fortunately, the letters by a Confederate uncle don’t share anything that couldn’t be quoted without talking in code. But I have seen others in a collateral line that would be more difficult to handle.

All that said, history is history, and we shouldn’t whitewash it. We just need to always be sensitive to how others will look at these same kind of issues in a different manner. Here, courtesy is paramount. I adjust my profile bios appropriately.
After reading the other replies, I realize that I misread the question.

1 Answer

+2 votes
Or perhaps you could put asterisks in, like 'n****r' and the context would show what the word was.
answered by Ros Haywood G2G6 Pilot (488k points)
Thanks Ros. That sounds like a good solution.

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