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Special Privacy Policy for Genealogy

This Special Privacy Statement for Genealogy was last updated on April 10, 2009. If you have not reviewed it since that date, please do so. You will not receive any other notice of changes to this statement. This document may be updated at any time at the discretion of Southern Muse, editor. You will not be notified of updates to this document. It is your responsibility to check for updates periodically as you use the Southern Muse website.

The Southern Muse website and all related pages are not directed at children under the age of 18, but are usually suitable for general audience. If you are under 18, please do not provide any personal information to Southern Muse or its editor(s). Young genealogists are encouraged to follow safe practices when starting a family tree.

Our privacy policy as related to all other correspondence and site usage except genealogy is stricter and more protective than our policy regarding the necessary share-and-share-alike nature of genealogical information. To read about how we protect your privacy in all other matters, including correspondence that is not genealogy-related, please see: Southern Muse Privacy Policy.

Genealogy and/or Permanent Contacts

ALL GENEALOGY QUERIES INITIATED BY ANY OR ALL USERS OF THE SOUTHERN MUSE WEBSITE WILL BE TREATED AS VOLUNTARY CORRESPONDENCE. ANY INFORMATION THAT YOU SUBMIT TO US REGARDING GENEALOGY MAY, AT OUR DISCRETION, BE RETAINED, RESEARCHED, AND USED ON A SHARE-AND-SHARE-ALIKE BASIS UNLESS YOU SPECIFY OTHERWISE IN EACH AND EVERY PIECE OF CORRESPONDENCE THAT YOU SEND TO US. AS A FAMILY RESEARCHER, YOU MAY BE CONSIDERED TO BE A PERMANENT CONTACT AND YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION MAY BE RETAINED BY SOUTHERN MUSE AT OUR DISCRETION. DO NOT SUBMIT ANY FAMILY INFORMATION THAT IS CONSIDERED TO BE "PRIVATE." SOUTHERN MUSE ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR PURPOSELY OR ACCIDENTALLY RELAYING GENEALOGICAL INFORMATION THAT A USER DID NOT WISH TO "SHARE." However, we will, in good faith, attempt to follow your requests and instructions regarding such queries. To be safe, Southern Muse currently responds to only a few researchers, who are working on genealogical lines that are closely related to our main research lineages. Please read the following section before submitting any genealogical information to Southern Muse.

Southern Muse provides a limited number of genealogical document images, extracts, and transcripts for the convenience of our website users. Queries should be of a general nature, relating to the specific documents or transcripts in question. Southern Muse receives a number of queries ~ both general and specific ~ on genealogical topics, via e-mail and USPS mail. Genealogy (family tree) queries fall into a special category. Persons who enter into correspondence about genealogy typically share personal data and information as a necessary part of the genealogical hobby. Southern Muse will make every good-faith effort to utilize your contact information, genealogical research data, and other shared information in a reasonable, discreet, and ethical manner. In some cases, Southern Muse does collect and retain information that users send to us. Our policy is as follows: if your genealogical query is found to be unrelated to the family trees under research by Southern Muse, you may or may not receive a response, after which your e-mail will be discarded. If your genealogical query is found to be related or of interest to Southern Muse, we may enter into correspondence with you.

LIVING INDIVIDUALS
Southern Muse does not share genealogical data on living individuals. This may seem unfair as it does present a problem to other researchers, who may be seeking living individuals or new "cousins" to further their own legitimate research. However, we must refuse such requests. Our refusal to pass on information regarding living individuals has turned out to be the safest policy regarding privacy and confidentiality. Occasionally, as a courtesy to a user and at the user's specific request, Southern Muse may relay the user's contact information and brief lineage to another interested individual or researcher, in order to put two researchers into contact with each other so that they may continue their research independently of Southern Muse. Southern Muse only shares addresses and lineages if both users agree to such a correspondence. Southern Muse will not endorse such a request as being "safe" or advisable, but will leave it up to each user to decide whether to enter into correspondence.

MAIN LINEAGE/RELATED LINEAGE
If your lineage is considered to be of particular interest as relating to one of our own family trees (below), then your personal and contact information may be retained permanently at our discretion. If you do not wish to become a permanent contact, please clearly state that in your e-mail or letter, and request that we discard your information immediately after our initial response. Please read the following important notice regarding permanent contacts:

NOTICE REGARDING PERMANENT CONTACTS!
Southern Muse collects genealogical information on specific lineages in North Carolina, North Georgia, Northeastern Alabama (and individuals in other parts of the U.S. that are related to these families): Bryant, Caylor, Cooper, Dunn, Gray, Headrick, Emert, Murray, Pankey, Patty, Petty, Pritchett, or Sizemore. [FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THESE FAMILIES, SEE OUR GENEALOGY PAGE.] If you request, submit, or share information regarding these main lineages, Southern Muse may consider you a permanent genealogical contact. In that case, Southern Muse may, or may not, at our discretion, permanently retain your name, e-mail address, postal address, phone number, family lineages, and other personal data that you submit to us. You may also be noted as the source of information in any footnotes or other citations in any genealogical publications that we may make. Although we will make every good-faith effort to use such data in a discreet and ethical manner, we cannot guarantee complete confidentiality and privacy regarding such personal submissions. Once submitted, such genealogical data cannot easily be sorted, disentangled, or deleted. Therefore, the best policy on genealogy is: do not share it if you do not want it publicized.

SOLICITED RESEARCH AND LOOK-UPS
Southern Muse may or may not agree (at our discretion) to do "look-ups" or further research, if your query is related to a peripheral or minor lineage researched by Southern Muse, or if your family is based in or around Murray County or Dalton, Georgia. If so, we will retain your contact and personal information for an undetermined length of time while we attempt to answer your query or locate data for you, and may occasionally contact you regarding our progress, or to provide any newly discovered data that relates to your research. After we have completed our research (regardless of the outcome), Southern Muse will delete your e-mail and contact information unless you specifically request that we retain your information permanently. All results of original research that is performed free of charge by Southern Muse remains the property of Southern Muse, to publish and distribute at our discretion. This includes documents, deeds, birth and marriage data (on deceased individuals), and similar information that we may find during free look-ups. You also have the right to utilize, publish and distribute any results or documentation that we share with you. We do not, however, claim any right to the biographical information, lineage, or personal research that you shared with us in order to perform your look-up. You retain all rights to those submissions. In exchange for our free look-up services, Southern Muse requests and appreciates your citation or notes attributing Southern Muse (or D.K. Pritchett) as a provider or source of information, as applicable.

UNRELATED LINEAGES
Genealogy queries regarding families unrelated to the main lineages published on Southern Muse may or may not receive a response (please see above section, "Research and Look-Ups.") If Southern Muse responds to your e-mail negatively, or if Southern Muse fails to respond to your e-mail, please be advised that your e-mail and all personal information will be immediately deleted. No information will be retained on unrelated lineages and no follow-up beyond our initial response should be expected.

This document was originally published on 10 April 2009. Prior to that date, Southern Muse did not have a compact privacy policy. During the early years of the Internet, genealogical-data swapping was common and acceptable. At that time, contact information was shared with other researchers. Also, citations containing contact information may have been published on our own genealogy pages and on genealogical query sites. Later, as privacy and SPAM became more of an issue, Southern Muse curtailed genealogical-data sharing and became more cautious about sharing in general.

This document was updated Thursday, July 23, 2009: Minor edit to remove duplicate information.

SOUTHERN MUSE GENERAL PRIVACY POLICY (NOT FOR GENEALOGY)