You don’t have to be country music fan to know the name of Tammy Wynette. Ms. Wynette was one of the greatest country stars in the last half of the 20th century. Two of her greatest hit songs were, ironically, “Stand by Your Man” and “D-I-V-O-R-C-E.” She sang each with great emotional conviction because she had lived through marriage with a physically and psychologically abusive man who cheated on her. She ultimately divorced him and went on to become a great star and an icon for many abused women.
It is difficult today for us to separate ourselves and our emotions from news stories of murder, robbery, kidnapping, sexual crimes, political corruption, drug and alcohol abuse, battered spouses and children, hate crimes, and worse. Today’s media thrives on the sensationalism of each offensive act and plasters it before us.
As genealogists, we have a similar difficulty understanding the actions of people in previous generations that seem similar to or worse than some of the events we see on the nightly news, in the newspaper, and on the Internet. It is perhaps easy to judge our ancestors by our contemporary laws and moral beliefs. Should we condone or condemn them, using these tenets?
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