I received a call last night from an older family member regarding a letter from a family researcher. The researcher requested information to determine if her family was part of our family. So while I make contact with this possible cousin, I’m looking at how one can make the best attempt at making a family connection through the old fashion way, snail mail.
No matter if you know the individuals or if you’re taking a chance through the telephone directory, your letter for requesting family information must do it’s job the first time. What is that job? Its job is to peak the contacted party’s interest to return a response.
Think of these few questions before you stamp that envelope:
- Did you clearly state the family names (given, maiden & surname) that may be the connection to this other family?
- If you know, did you include vital information such as birth and death dates to help place the individuals mentioned in a given generation? The person you are contacting may be several generations before or after your generation of interest.
- Have you added the known locality and residence of each individual mentioned? Although families did migrate and lose touch, many families have an idea where distant family are located or family folklore that can help narrow the connection quickly.
- Don’t fill the letter with too many questions. People are annoyed by chain letters and many may react to your long questionnaire in the same manner. Keep this initial contact brief with perhaps 5 or fewer questions.
- Are you positive this may be your family member? Consider including a few color photocopies of family photos, a family grouping if possible. Don’t forget to name and date the photocopies.
- And last but not least, don’t forget to add numerous avenues to contact you. Older family members are most comfortable with replying to letters by mail or telephone. Younger family members are likely to email or use social networks.
Overall, be direct with your intentions and offer enough information so the contacted can respond fully and without missing a family connection. In my case, the requester gave all avenues of contact and I chose to use email to respond quickly to the request.
Leaf’n you with best wishes in your responses,