A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 13, 2009
“Why pay to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you”

Political opposition research can be very thorough. A saying developed: “Why pay money to have your family tree traced? Just go into politics and you opponents will do it for you for free.”

The political witticism dates to at least 1960.


21 September 1960, Pasadena (CA) Independent, “Ray McConnell’s Notebook,” pg. 2, col. 1:
The political campaign inspires Ralph Taeger to note that it’s a waste of money to look up your family tree. Just run for office and your opponents will do it for you for nothing.

8 May 1969, Syracuse (NY) Herald-Journal:
Why pay money to have your family tree traced? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for free.

17 January 1987, Alton (IL) Telegraph, “Looking back is bad for your future” by Rev. Mike Michels, pg. D2, cols. 2-3:
Someone has said; “The cheapest means of having your family tree published is to run for a major political office. Your opponents will do it free!”

Google Books
Just say a few words:
The complete speaker’s handbook

By Bob Monkhouse
Luton: Lennard
1988
Pg. 105:
‘Why pay money to have your family tree traced? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.”

26 August 1989, Altoona (PA) Mirror, “Dear Abby” column by Abigail Van Buren, pg. D6, cols. 4-5:
DEAR ABBY: I have always wanted to have my family history traced, but I can’t afford to spend a lot of money to do it. Any suggestions?—SAM IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR SAM: Yes. Run for public office.

2 November 1992, The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), Smiley Anders column:
Amateur genealogy: “We’ve learned from recent elections there’s no need to spend good money to have your family tree traced,” says Tom Colten. “Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.”

19 September 2000, The Record (Kitchener, Ontario), pg. A2:
THOUGHT OF THE DAY. Why pay money to have your family tree traced? Go into politics when your opponents will do it for you. Mark Twain.

Google Books
The Quotable Politician
By William B. Whitman
Guilford, CT: Lyons Press
2003
Pg. 71:
Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.
UNKNOWN

2 November 2004, Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram:
Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you—Author unknown.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Sunday, December 13, 2009 • Permalink