Monday, May 16, 2011

Genealogical Tip: How to Contact Living Relatives

by Gena Philibert Ortega

Researching the dead can be easy. Contacting the living can be a whole different ball game. When you find a new cousin, except for genealogist cousins, the most important thing to remember is that not everyone is thrilled about family history. In fact some people could care less (a collective ouch is felt by many of us).

The following are some ideas about making that first contact:
Contact potential cousins in the least intrusive way as possible. Responding to a genealogical query from a researcher is much different than contacting an unknown cousin out of the blue. With the unknown cousin, I would consider writing an e-mail, if the address is available, or mailing a letter. I know that some genealogists don't think twice about calling an unknown cousin. I would hesitate just because some people may find it intrusive to get a call from someone asking or telling them about their family history. If you choose to make a call, try to write out what you will say and be sure to be short, sweet, and concise. Don't overwhelm the person, and be prepared if the person does not want to talk to you.
If you are requesting information from someone, be sure you are specific. Telling a genealogist you want anything and everything to do with Great-Grandma Harris is probably not going to get you much. But asking what they know about her death might get you what you need. When writing a letter or e-mail, I would recommend that you provide the person with some information and then make your request.
•If you are requesting documents or other items, even the person's time to look up something, make sure you offer to reimburse them. Taking time out of their lives to make copies, mail documents or get information for you is worth something. The person may decline a monetary reimbursement but at least offer it. You may even consider sending something as a thank you based on how much the person has supplied you. A thank you card or a gift certificate might be much appreciated it.
Also, remember to provide your new cousin with copies of your research. Your contact may inspire them to learn more about their family history or bring up questions that they have. Consider sending completed family group sheets or pedigree charts to them so that they can know more about your shared family history. You may also consider putting together a blog, wiki, or web site that updates family members on your findings.

However, you decide to contact the living, these contacts can often lead you right where you want to be...finding the dead.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Millions of Civil War Records Now Available on FamilySearch Website

Salt Lake City | 2011-05-10 |
As the United States marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, history buffs and people who had ancestors involved in the conflict can access millions of records recently published on the familysearch.orgwebsite. And millions more records are coming, as volunteers enlist in an online campaign over the next five years to provide access to the highly desirable historic documents.