Submission Guidelines and Privacy Rights_Washington County Genealogy_PAGenWeb Project

Washington County PAGenWeb 
Genealogy Project

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Washington County PA Submission Guidelines 

I realize most people do not know how HTML works to create a webpage, or exactly what a webmaster does.  It can be a time-consuming process to make one page.  So I offer the following short list of tips about sending files or images.  

1. Word.doc files put in extra "coding"; I have to do extra steps to get rid of Word's coding.  Even typing information into an email works better for me than working from a Word file.
2. If you do use word, you must send images (jpg files) separately - I can handle 3 or 4 images per email.
3. I appreciate that most people like to do "formatting" in Word.  But I just have to remove your formatting codes and re-do them in HTML.
3. Name your images with first-name-last-name_date.jpg   Don't use a capital letter anywhere in the filename.  Use a hyphen (-) between each word in the filename. (I spend hours re-naming files so they will upload.  You will save me HOURS of work and frustration (it is not easy to switch a capital letter to lowercase when the file is MiXeD_CaSe, like Mary Johnson.jpg   or to remove spaces between names.  Files with spaces that are not changed would end up showing on the internet like this:  Mary%20%Johnson.jpg  -- IF it will even upload with a space.

If interested in helping me in the type of files you send, please click here to read more detailed submission tips, file types, and file naming.


Please read this beginning information FIRST 
before making a submission.

Submitting items about persons for inclusion on websites can be tricky business.  In a way, the Internet (WWW) can be compared to a complete stranger walking up to you on the street and pumping you for details about your life.  Posting items about living persons evokes the same extreme discomfort, awkwardness, potential embarrassment, and an imposed sense of fear and danger!  The big difference though is that you can walk away from a person on the street without giving information.  But, when your personal information ends up on the Internet, potentially millions of web users can find details that you probably wouldn't even tell your closest friends!  


The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a non-profit consumer information and advocacy organization, has a page discussing the area of Public Records.  The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) also contains good information about issues involved in electronic databases and the rights of individuals concerning control over 'their own information' (e.g. information about themselves).

More people are concerned about "Identity Theft" than ever in history.  Many people believe Internet access increases the risks for this to occur.  Even without these fears, there are numerous other issues about violating another person's privacy.

Part of the problem today with Internet access is the ongoing debate about   (1)  what makes a public record "public," (2)  the specific "rights" that individuals named in public records have (or don't have), and (3)  how to balance the perceived "need for information" versus the "rights of the 
individual (s)" named in those records.

Many genealogists hear the words "public record," and disregard any thought to the individual's right to privacy and control over their own information.  Some persons WRONGLY believe that "public record" means an individual has no rights to privacy.

I learned genealogy research over 25 years ago, when issues of privacy were in ONE sense less complex simply because the Internet was only beginning then.  BUT, in a different sense, privacy issues have always been complex. 

Humans beings live very complicated lives, with good and bad events and choices.  Every person has the right to "not disclose" any aspect of their lives -- and have the right to CHOOSE whom to tell, and HOW MUCH to tell about themselves to anyone else.   In simplistic terms, this is why many government records are sealed for 75 years or longer...  How many persons would be truthful in filling out the 2010 Census (or any other Census year) if their answers would be made public during their lifetime?   How many people want sensitive or embarrassing details openly  known from other records?  

For every example that could be given, naysayers argue that "facts" of anyone's life are somehow fair game based only on the idea that these events are "facts."  (Example: A great-uncle 'was a drunk'.)  Yet, every genealogist needs to strictly follow the standard golden rule, and NOT do unto others anything that has the potential to harm.  A second rule is that the idea of "harm" is completely subjective and determined by the person whose information has been made public.  It is not for us to decide whether a certain piece of information will or won't hurt another person.  Instead, we MUST follow the concept that any/all information has the POTENTIAL to hurt. 

Harm can be emotional, psychological, loss of or disruption to family relationships, financial harm, public embarrassment, public ridicule, etc.   The National Genealogical Society (2000) strongly recommends that genealogists "are sensitive to the hurt that revelations of criminal, immoral, bizarre or irresponsible behavior may bring to family members."  Additionally, genealogists should protect and safeguard ANOTHER LIVING PERSON's birth date, spouse name, children's names (and birth dates), out-of-wedlock births, extra-marital affairs, address/residence, email address, personal habits, life crises, poor decisions, psychiatric / medical history, DNA results, etc., etc --- with the same diligence and protectiveness that you use for YOUR OWN information and life story.

I feel an ethical responsibility to continue the lessons I learned as a young genealogist, which is namely, genealogy is more about piecing together facts about deceased persons, and must protect the living from (1) undue invasion of privacy; (2) unwanted and unnecessary embarrassment or distress; and (3) honoring persons and family members by ensuring that their right has been respected to exercise control over their own life and personal information.  

With these issues in mind, this website has the following submission guidelines:


General, especially concerning Privacy:

1.   The submitter bears full responsibility to obtain permission from living persons when making submissions that include details of the life of "the living."  The webmaster will assume that the necessary permission has been obtained.  This includes photos.

2.   Any living individual has the express right to request immediate removal of their name or identifying information.

3.  The webmaster will review submissions and use discretion which errs on the side of "the living."   Submissions that raise questions about privacy rights will not be used.  

Newspaper articles will be treated as part of a "public record" context in which the "right to privacy" of individuals has already been diminished, and therefore, can be posted without as much concern as other documents.  However, the webmaster reserves the right to not use newspaper articles which are deemed inappropriate, inflammatory, or which may hurt a person's reputation or livelihood. 

4.    The webmaster has obtained the right to publish county newspapers up through 1999.   No newspaper items will be used from 2000 through the present.



Submitter name and email will appear at the top of each web page for those  submissions to assist other researchers who may need to contact you.   If you want a different name than as it appears on your email program, tell me.  

*I used to send a separate email to ask permission to use the submitter's email address, but now I will assume I have permission when I receive your submission.*



U.S. and International Copyright laws apply to copies from publications, books, CDs, pamphlets, newsletters, etc. currently under copyright.  Works published before 1923 are considered Public Domain, unless the work has been reprinted.   Search the U.S. Copyright Office online if unsure about a specific work and copyright.

No newspaper items will be used from 2000 through the present.

Do not submit copies of any work compiled and sold as a "yearly subscription" and published by county genealogical societies or historical societies.  These organizations survive from their membership fees (which include the subscription).



Public Domain publications are acceptable.  Please use a general font, such as Times New Roman or Arial.  Please type AS IS, including all typos or "misspelled names."   In genealogy, the "real" last name may have changed dozens of times over a century or longer.  Place a "NOTE" at the bottom of your transcription to list items you know or believe to be in error, along with the "correction."  Do NOT "correct" the original !    Doing so changes the original and makes it invalid for use in genealogy.

If part of a record is illegible, use a series of dashes to replace the letters you cannot read.  In BRACKETS, you may put the words you know, think, or believe are in the illegible section.  If you are GUESSING, please state the bracketed words are your BEST GUESS.  Example:  [BEST GUESS:  my daughter, Merilea].  Using "NOTE: and [bracketed corrections] will keep it clear what is part of the original record, and what is NOT in the original.

Keep "Notes" and [Bracketed information] as short as possible, please.



Transcribe "AS IS" and use "NOTES" or [bracketed text] to show information that is different than the original.   Submitter notes will be added beneath the original.   Errors do occur in obituaries (my sister's obit had 9 errors).  Please give your SOURCE for how / why you know or believe part of an obituary is an error.   A tangible, real source is viewed as more reliable than personal knowledge.  But, personal knowledge is important and could help another researcher.  If you're just guessing or hypothesizing, state that it is an hypothesis.



Entry must include Cemetery Name and Location of Cemetery (an address would be nice too; driving directions would be most appreciated!).

Headstones MUST be transcribed AS IS, directly from the stone.  Do NOT put a maiden name if it is NOT ON the stone.  A secondary column will be used for submitter comments, maiden name of deceased, or corrections the submitter might supply.

If another person says "that record on your website is wrong," the person may submit a SHORT NOTE listing (1) the suspect info (2) the supposed "right" info (3) SOURCE for the correction, AND (4) submitter name and email address.  No secondary corrections are accepted without these 4 mandatory guidelines. 



Please contact the webmaster regarding format.  All guidelines listed under "Headstones" apply.  



It is assumed by this webmaster that the submitter is the owner (and thus has common law copyright) of any Location Photo submitted for this website.



Photos are welcomed.  Please keep scans below 1MB - Webmaster reserves the right to reduce, resize, or crop any photo for appropriate web page design.  If possible, a link will be used to reach the larger-sized photo. 

The webmaster will include submitter's description of the photo.  Include FULL NAMES if known, LOCATION, city, state, and any important details.  Webmaster may shorten the description as necessary.



Rootsweb forbids these items on county websites. Add your genealogy data at World Connect or at the Group Sheet Project.  

An abbreviated informational record to be placed on the "Migrations" pages is allowed.  The webmaster will cut the submission down to just the basic facts of migration, including name, relationship between family members, migration "from" - "to" (or vice versa) for this county.  Dates will be included to help illuminate the migration pattern of a family or group.  Only the migration that directly involves this county will be included.



As stated above, newspaper items will be considered as Public Domain up to 1999, with webmaster discretion on each article.

All ancestor records should include detailed information about the SOURCE (such as a Docket or Ledger made by a Registrar with Book Volume and Page Number, Courthouse official, physician,  preacher, undertaker, family collection, etc.).   Contact the webmaster for type of format used.

Note:  Stories about murders, violent acts, or other harmful events will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, especially if the persons affected or involved are still alive.  A decision may be to use excerpts only.  An excerpt is a paraphrased version of the original, and certain facts might be omitted in the excerpted material.  The excerpt will at least give the source so other people can look for the newspaper article or item.



The webmaster is looking for personal stories of remembrance, including about "old hang-outs" or the locations and appearance (interior and exterior) of Washington County PA buildings, public locations, and areas of interest.  These should be written as a "walking tour," taking the reader into the place, describing key elements so the reader has a sense of what a location looked like, what the place was used for, and the general atmosphere of the place.  For example, a writing about a 1990 steel and concrete building would "feel" quite different than a writing about 1940s G. C. Murphy department store.

Recollection stories must include the poster's name and email on the webpage.

Stories can be a simple one paragraph.... or a few pages... about one location or include many locations "along the way".

Submitters should get permission before including anyone else's names in their remembrance / recollection stories.  Many stories will probably include deceased individuals or semi-public figures (example: the owner's name of a corner store you visited as a child); using these names are perfectly okay.



DNA is an expanding tool used by some genealogists.  Submissions that include DNA results will be held to a much higher standard for privacy rights for individuals and families.



Any submitter can send their own life details, if they choose, after careful consideration of all privacy issues.  



Privacy considerations will apply to all other types of submissions and misc. records.


The webmaster hopes this page

will answer the common questions about submissions.

Please email if you have additional questions.


Please spend an hour and read important web articles about the rights of individuals to have express and explicit privacy in all areas of life.

1. Read and thoughtfully consider the points made in:

"Oxymoron: Privacy and the Internet"
by Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG


Attentively apply the recommendations found in:

"Genealogical Standards & Guidelines - Guidelines For Publishing Web Pages On The Internet - Recommended by the National Genealogical Society"



Then, choose to be a responsible and mature genealogist by adhering to the:

"Genealogical Standards & Guidelines - Standards For Sharing Information With Others - Recommended by the National Genealogical Society"




"Protectiveness of information concerning living family members
is an honorable character trait of
all moral, responsible, and mature genealogists." (written by the webmaster).


Read Submission Guidelines, Privacy, Copyright

Read Submission Guidelines for Tips, File Types, File Naming




This page was added April 15, 2007.

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This is the Washington County PAGenWeb Genealogy Project

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Submission Guidelines and Privacy Rights


Website updated by current webmaster from 2005 continuously through current year ; See Site History

To submit material for the website or to report a broken link, start your subject line with "WCPA" followed by specific subject and email me at:  Washington.Co.Pa.Webmaster AT     ( "AT" ).   I spend most of my time adding new material so please allow at least 14 days for a reply.

Notice: Links the webmaster gives to outside websites are provided to enhance your research and understanding of history and genealogy. However, The USGenWeb Project does not offer any endorsement of any outside sites or their contents.  This notice applies to all pages within the "Washington County PAGenWeb".

2006 to 2012 ;  2013 Judith Ann Florian, all rights reserved.  Website is updated weekly or monthly, as I receive submissions or when I complete a transcribing project. The materials (files) located on this website are the property of the webmaster and the contributors. Material is for personal research and may NOT  be included in any for-fee collection or publication.

History of this website - The first PAGenWeb Washington County coordinator was Jean Suplick Matuson [who developed She was followed by Georgeann Malowney [who took over], then Peggy Tebbetts, and lastly, Christina Hunt who each held prior copyrights over this website.  Each coordinator has contributed much to the preservation of Washington County genealogical information/history.

This Washington County PA website is a current member of PAGenWeb and the USGenWeb.

This page last updated Friday, February 05, 2016