Author Topic: Ethical dilemma  (Read 1088 times)

Offline Zaphod99

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Ethical dilemma
« on: Friday 31 July 20 10:20 BST (UK) »
Periodically I help an elderly relative with the post that she receives. I recently came across an old letter dated 1967. Quite innocently I opened it, to find a letter home from her late husband who was working overseas. It is a treasure of family history, but I really don't know what to do about it. Physically she is in good health, but her mind is sadly another matter. Should I preserve the letter discreetly for future generations? If I do nothing the letter will ultimately be lost.  If I asked her about it she would not understand. Quite how it came to be in with her current post I do not know, she was using it as a mat for her cup of tea.

Zaph

Offline Kiltpin

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #1 on: Friday 31 July 20 10:57 BST (UK) »
As you are related, preserve it. Ideally, digitally.   

Regards 

Chas
Whannell - Eaton - Jackson
India - Scotland - Australia

Offline rosie99

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #2 on: Friday 31 July 20 11:14 BST (UK) »
Surely that letter is the sole property of the elderly relative whatever the state of her mind.  You don't have any right to preserve it for information for yourself and future generations without her consent, it was after all a personal letter to her from her husband.  The trouble is we tend to look at these type of letters as our family history and expect to have it shared with us, we don't actually have this right with other peoples property. 

Have you tried having any conversation with her about it.

Kiltpin,
Surely either removing the letter from her possesion or taking copies of it without her consent is technically theft  :-\
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Offline Pheno

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #3 on: Friday 31 July 20 11:22 BST (UK) »
Surely it depends on the nature of any agreement you have with her as to what you do with her post.

Are you sorting/discarding/dealing with issues on her behalf - if so this is just one of those issues.

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Online louisa maud

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #4 on: Friday 31 July 20 11:38 BST (UK) »
Eventually things will need to be sorted out at a later date, whoever does this will be the person to decide, personally if it was me which had that job I would preserve it, sadly when my mother died my brother decided a letter we found should go with her, and it did, I feel sorry about that now,  would have been something my granddaughter would have been interested in.
Keep your eye eye it till you have to decide eventually but it is a sensitive matter

Louisa Maud
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Offline majm

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #5 on: Friday 31 July 20 11:52 BST (UK) »
You could gently ask her if she would give you permission to retain that letter in safe keeping as it is of significant historical value and a tender reminder of her late husband. 

I have several elderly living relatives and in law relatives who have given me the responsibility of sorting their personal papers and I have recorded their oral histories using various items as the starting point in each conversation..
 Sometimes it is a letter or a postcard,  other times a photo, and once it was a hat.   Amazing what memories can reach back .... :)

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Offline Kiltpin

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #6 on: Friday 31 July 20 12:00 BST (UK) »

Kiltpin,
Surely either removing the letter from her possesion or taking copies of it without her consent is technically theft
 

Taking someone else's possessions with out their permission is theft.  I fail to see how taking a copy could be construed as theft. Unethical, maybe. The only person who could possibly complain is the copyright holder or his inheritor. The copyright holder is, we have been told, is dead. His inheritor is unknown. It might be the elderly relative, but might not. 

Consider this. What if were not a letter, but rather a work of art - a watercolour, a charcoal sketch, a hand carved plaque, or one of the hundreds of things a person might make to pass the time while away from their family? Would it be acceptable to let that be destroyed? 

I don't think so. 

Regards 

Chas
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Online louisa maud

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #7 on: Friday 31 July 20 12:27 BST (UK) »
In my opinion a very delicate subject

Louisa Maud
Census information is Crown Copyright,
from  www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Garner, Marylebone Paddington  Northolt Ilford
Garner, Devon
Garner New Zealand
Maddieson
Parkinson St Pancras,
Lethbridge Paddington Slough
Jenkins Marylebone Paddington
Mizon/Mison/Myson Paddington
Tindal Marylebone Paddington
Tocock, (name changed to Ellis) London
Southam Marylebone, Paddington
Bragg Lambeth 1800's
Edermaniger(Maniger) Essex Kent Canada (Toronto)
Coveney Kent Lambeth
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Offline Gadget

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #8 on: Friday 31 July 20 13:10 BST (UK) »
I agree with Rosie and others about theft.  Does anyone have Powers of Attorney?  If so, it is probably their responsibility.
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