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Researcher's Code of Behavior

By Stanley Diamond

With the growing number of genealogists making visits to the countries where our families once lived, I would like to respectfully suggest each one of us make some promises to ourselves before we go.

My "Code of Behavior" while I am researching in ________________.

Promises to myself

  • I promise to say Please and Thank You. (I will also try to learn how to say these words in the local language.)

  • I promise not to be impatient with people who do not speak my language or do not speak it as well as I do. I promise not to say it louder just because someone did not understand the first time. I promise to speak slowly and clearly.

  • I promise not to raise my voice in frustration or anger when someone tells me it is not possible or that I will have to wait.

  • I promise to stand in line and wait my turn when it is the appropriate thing to do.

  • I promise not to allude to my social or economic or other status, and thereby make the person with whom I am dealing feel inferior. (Expressions like "I can buy and sell you" may not be readily understood; worse, they may be taken for something even more insulting than they are.)

  • I promise to be diplomatic when I discuss sensitive and painful matters like the Holocaust and its effect on my family.

  • I promise not to raise the subject of "lost property" under any circumstances without guidance from qualified experts in the subject.

  • I promise not to haggle over prices quoted for personal services (guides, translators, etc.) and to remember that this is the way these people make their living.

  • I promise not to act as if my country's currency has special magic.

  • I promise not to make comparisons between what I observe and the way "it" is done in my country. I will save these comments for family and friends after I return.

  • I promise to respect the rules of the archives I visit and to ask permission before doing anything which may be contrary to local regulations (such as taking photographs of records, etc.)

  • I promise to be the perfect guest in any country I visit just as I would want only perfect guests to visit me.

  • I promise to remember that others will follow me.

  • I promise to send a note of thanks to those people who have been kind, courteous and helpful to me.

  • I promise to ask if I am not sure of anything.

  • I promise to share these promises to myself with my friends who plan to research overseas as well as those who will accompany me on my travels.

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