Our thoughts on sharing the stories and research of the Welsh of Harpers Ferry
and related families.

A blunt discussion of copyright, sources, and courtesy as it relates to history, genealogy, and family history.


You have how many ancestors?

Each one of us has eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great-grandparents, and the numbers keep doubling from there. We are not the only descendants of our ancestors.

Even if we were, our ancestors aren't just names and dates on paper. They were once living, breathing people who simply walked before you or I.

You have:

  • 8 great-grandparents
  • 16 great-great-grandparents
  • 32 third-great-grandparents
  • 64 fourth-great-grandparents

What if?

Imagine your excitement. You just discovered the only known photograph of your third-great-grandmother online. You excitedly contact the person that posted it and ask if you can have a copy for your own research. The person that posted it says that that photograph was passed down through her grandmother's things who received a bunch of photographs from a family friend. She follows up with, "but you can't use it".


The subjects of the photograph passed away a very long time ago. The person who took the photograph passed away a long time ago. The original photograph, of your grandmother, is simply in her possession.


Our goal as descendants and family historians should be to ensure their stories aren't erased from the pages of history.

I understand the hours and years of work that go into your research. What is all that work for if you can't share it, particularly with other descendants? How can you truly preserve your ancestors' stories without telling them?

Here's the truth.

You cannot copyright historical fact, a person's life, or photographs that you did not physically take.

  • It doesn't matter how many hours have gone into your genealogy or historical research. 
  • It doesn't matter how much sweat equity it took to uncover a historical fact.
  • It doesn't matter whose possesses a physical copy of a historical photograph.

Quite frankly, genealogy and history, as disciplines, aren't well suited for copyright law.

By law, the bulk of the material we consider "history" is in the public domain.

Here is where it gets a little murky. 

Written histories and genealogies can be copyrighted because the researcher is copywriting the conclusions they personally have drawn based on documented historical facts and the wording used to articulate that conclusion.

This means that your reporting and articulation of your third-great-grandmother's life is yours and yours alone. I can't copy your research report and call it my own simply because it is based on historical fact.

Your ancestors' stories were meant to be told. 


Documenting your sources & common courtesy will bless your research and others it may touch.

Knowing the source of a historical fact helps you understand your ancestor on a deeper level.

For most of us, citing our sources isn't a fun part of our research. It's all too easy to get hung up on how we cite our sources rather than why we should cite them in the first place.

Our source citations are a map for ourselves and other researchers so that we can easily find and return to the original source of a historical fact, or, more broadly, your research.

Without this map, it is impossible evaluate our evidence and interpret many pieces of evidence so that we can know our ancestors on a deeper level.

Personally, while we strive to be consistent with format in our citations, we believe accuracy and content is far more important than format and style.

In fact, you may find citations on this website that aren't perfect in style and format. Fortunately, it is far easier to fix format than to remember where and how to find a source of information.

There is immense research value in kindness to other researchers.

As researchers, we are able accomplish more by collaborating and freely sharing with other researchers. Crediting another researcher for the discovery of a historical fact, photograph, or other material isn't stating ownership. 

Instead, providing a credit is an easy way to show appreciation for another researcher's work while also helping other researchers to discover the work of others. 

Great, so what can I use?

While we laid out our use license in our website's terms, we thought it would be a good idea to make our thoughts a little clearer.

Most of the research here has been conducted by Kaila A. Welsh-Lamp, with various contributing family members and outside researchers.  The Welsh of Harpers Ferry was created with one goal in mind -- to share the research that has been collaboratively collected throughout the years on the Welsh family of Harpers Ferry and connected families.

We'd love for you to build upon our research. We'd love to collaborate. We hope that we can help others make discoveries. We hope that our research helps someone climb their brick wall. The history within these pages was meant to be shared with family members and other families of Harpers Ferry and its surrounding areas.

Use of any of our research or other content is restricted to non-commercial use (e.g. don't sell the photographs or the research). We have a few requests for all content that you choose to use. If you use materials from The Welsh of Harpers Ferry:

  • Please credit The Welsh of Harpers Ferry, including a link back to this website. This helps other people find us and extends our research to others who may be able to make a previously unknown discovery here.
  • It's not required, but we do ask that you notify us of your intent to use our materials, if possible. We love to hear that someone has made a discovery through our research, and we'd love to follow your research as well.

Historical Photographs

Yes, you can absolutely use the historical images on this website for your own personal family history websites, online and offline trees, your GEDCOM file, to share with family members, or any other application of your own research. We only ask:

  • You do not knowingly misidentify people or locations in a photograph.
  • If the photograph has people or locations already identified, you share those identifications along with the photograph when possible.
  • You don't use these photographs as Pinterest images or create other graphics with them that are not of historical intent. These are family photos and historical images -- not stock photos.
  • You credit The Welsh of Harpers Ferry and include a link back to us if possible and your use allows.
  • You credit the original source of the image, if applicable.

We have taken the time to add meta data to many of our photographs. Photos with meta data attached will typically automatically populate the description field on many social networks. You can read meta data by opening up the image in a photo editor, such as Adobe Photoshop.


Your Research

Here's where it gets a little more confusing. In short, yes, you are more than welcome to any of our research, but there are a few limitations.

  • Please don't copy our articles, histories, or stories word for word. While the facts aren't ours, the words are ours.
  • It is completely fine to quote us -- even in larger chunks. If you are quoting the majority of an article, please choose to link to us instead.
  • Please credit us, preferably with a link back to The Welsh of Harpers Ferry, whenever possible.
  • You can, and we'd encourage you to, re-trace our research steps.
  • Please don't call our research your own and call it a day. It is here for you to use and build upon.
  • While we completely don't recommend it, we're okay if you use our research for the basis of your own. This means that, if you absolutely must, you can take our names and dates and run with them -- but we hope you are able to report back with new discoveries!
  • We would be grateful if you could take the time to notify us so we can hear all about your discovery and follow your research as well.