What About Forbidden Stories?

[Editor’s Note: Saving Memories Forever welcomes guest blogger Terri O’Connell. Terri is a genealogist, author, and presenter with a unique perspective: saving forbidden stories. By recording, saving, and sharing these stories, we are able to see how society has affected our family’s decisions and actions, and how we’ve grown because of it.]


Family stories of the past are a concern for many of the older generations in our families. They do not understand why we want to know the details of the stories. Why is it important to research these stories as well as the person? Are the family secrets really that devastating to today’s public? Or, do the family elders really not understand the changes that are happening in our world today.

What About Forbidden Stories?

Consider, unwed mothers. Many years ago when an unmarried woman was with child weddings were rushed or young women were sent away from home so not to embarrass the family. The shame that surrounded these young women for putting their families through these troubling times was tremendous.

Many times these women that were pushed into giving their child up for adoption,  how many of them really wanted to do that and how many did it to keep peace in their families. There are many movies and television shows dedicated to telling these stories. Those that are the most heart-wrenching to watch are the mothers looking for their child to make sure they had a good, happy life or even the child searching for the mother wanting to know why they were not good enough or loved enough to be kept. As a genealogist, each of these stories tears my heart right open.

What has changed in all these years? Everything! Today we celebrate the unwed mother, we give her a television show to chronicle her pregnancy, and if, she does well enough, we just might add her to a show that chronicles the lives of teen moms. The public shares the pains of these poor children that are caught in a web of children attempting to be adults. It seems that no one has taken the time to teach each of them what it means to be a parent and what they need to do to keep their children safe. Yes, today we embrace these mothers and let them continue to be children with children instead of forcing them to be adults.

As a women who was a teen mom, and was also a child of parents that started as teen parents. I encourage you to uncover these stories. I have found many generations of teen moms in my family. After looking through the documents and seeing what happened with each marriage, I share this conclusion with you this: With each generation we learn and grow stronger; we even end the cycle. Learn from these family stories, and continue to teach the younger generations in your family.


Terri O’Connell is a professional genealogist, author, and travel specialist in the Greater Chicagoland area. Terri specializes in Midwestern genealogy with a focus on the families and history of Illinois. You can learn more about her services at Finding Our Ancestors. Terri is also the Executive Director of The In-Depth Genealogist, a digital community that contributes to the advancement of all genealogists.

Photo Credit: Terri O’Connell / FindingOurAncestors.net