Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy

I’m a nice person. ‘I’m just compiling our family tree, what possible problems could there be? Researching a family tree traditionally involved asking grandparents and relatives about their lives, drawing a tree and undertaking a paper trail, but it now involves finding new records and dealing with strangers on the internet. What information should and shouldn’t you include on your tree? Ethical dilemmas came to the forefront since law enforcement utilised information from GEDMatch to apprehend a suspected serial killer, which created a division in the genealogy field about invasion of privacy. Ethical dilemmas unfolding include discovering other people’s secrets, lies, enslavement, unexpected ethnicities, indigenous cultures, convict ancestors, criminality, new DNA relatives, and finding that some relatives aren’t now related. People can study accredited courses and join professional bodies which have Codes of Ethics and Conduct, responsibilities and accountability. Attendees will benefit from reflecting on their own ethical dilemmas and considering ethical issues with empathy, sensitivity and diplomacy. What ethical dilemmas have you found in your genealogy research?

This talk is free to members of Berkshire Family History Society and we request a donation of £5 from non-members. Pre-booking is required, because the meeting link will emailed in advance. Booking ends one day before event. 

To join in this branch meeting, you will need a computer device which has a microphone and speakers. Ideally, also a webcam. You also need to be able to access emails from this device. First time users will be asked to download a small piece of software to join the meeting.  The meeting link will be emailed to you in advance. Technical help is available for those who need further assistance, please contact bo*****@be******.uk .


Tue 27 Jun


Zoom doors open 19:15
19:30 - 21:30


Windsor Branch Webinar
Windsor Branch Webinar
Zoom Video Conference


Windsor Branch - Berkshire FHS


  • Dr Penny Walters
    Dr Penny Walters
    University Lecturer and Author

    Dr. Penny Walters has been a University lecturer for 30 years in Psychology and Business Studies. Penny’s interest in genealogy started after having her first child and then wondering about her biological parents, as she was adopted. DNA testing has revealed 94% Irish heritage; and fascinating insights into her children’s heritage. Penny lectures internationally in-person, presents webinars, and writes articles about a variety of genealogy topics. Penny has authored the books: ‘Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy,’ and ‘The Psychology of Searching’ both available in paperback or kindle on Amazon.