What's a Grand*a?

Before launching this blog, I spent some time thinking about issues of privacy. Since my focus is firmly on the past--on my great-grandparents' generation and earlier--my main problem is how to share information I have gotten from more recently living relatives without revealing their personal details. Some may want to be named, but I shouldn't name anyone whose wishes I'm not sure of. For distant relatives, I can easily cite information from "a Waehlte cousin" or "a descendant of Thomas Ryan"--or I can make up a pseudonym. However, my parents and grandparents are my most important sources of genealogical information--and they are going to come up a lot.

I can't share, for example, an important family story often told by Grandpa without talking about Grandpa. And if I talk about Grandpa, I end up revealing his surname, plus either my father's surname or my mother's maiden name. Maybe none of my relatives would mind that in the context of that one post, or even ten posts. But I don't know what all I'll eventually end up posting. After 275 posts, how will all the small details stack up?

So how do I share the information my close relatives have given me without giving big clues to their identities?

Here's the approach I've decided on. I'll identify my mother and father as "my mother" and "my father" or "Mom" and "Dad." My grandparents, however, will not be named or identified by gender. Instead, I'll do a thing I read about on Wikipedia and employ "splat" gendering--that is, I'll substitute asterisks (*) for gender-specific parts of words when talking about my grandparents. Some examples:

  • *e instead of he or she 
  • h* instead of him or her 
  • grand*a instead of grandma or grandpa 

This will let me talk about my grandparents fairly casually, without resorting to awkward constructs like "s/he" or "my Murray grandparent."

Just so we're clear on how this works:
  • Grand*a Murray, one of my mother's parents, is a child of Frank Murray and Jennie Ryan. Example of usage: Grand*a Murray wrote that *e didn't know exactly when h* mother was born.
  • Grand*a Waehlte, one of my father's parents, is a child of Fred Waehlte and Stella Barnett. Example of usage: According to Grand*a Waehlte, this is a picture of h* father.
If I absolutely must talk about any other close relatives (aunts or uncles, for example), I'll use pseudonyms and/or "splats." I haven't figured out what to do if I should need to talk about my grandparents' spouses for more than a sentence or two, but I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
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