8949RE: [S-R] Your expert opinions needed
- Jan 8, 2004Anabeth,
You make a good point. With so much spam running amok, it's best to write
an email subject carefully. I like to use surnames and place names to alert
people when they see a sender (me) that they don't know.
I spend a lot of time "cold-calling" people in my genealogical work, both by
email, phone and letter. A well placed letter of introduction is always in
order. When someone like this writes to you, ask him/her all the same
questions you might want to write in a letter of introduction.
The first thing I try to do is prove they are serious in their intent. Many
people throw out a bunch of names and see what will stick. Very lazy
approach - they get out what they put in, very little. It has been my
experience that people who are dead serious about their researcher (those
are the people you want to talk to) will be willing to share lots of
Some questions you should ask:
Where village are your ancestors from? Where do you live now?
Have you written to the family in the US? Where are they? What are their
Have you written a family tree? Can I see it? What are your surnames?
Have you looked at village records for family?
Do you know people of my surname? Who?
What can you tell me about the village?
I think it's entirely safe to tell him/her:
My immigrant ancestor NAME was born about 18xx in and came to the US in
19yy. His spouse's name was... He had brothers/sisters/parents named etc.
Have you heard of these names?
This inquisition should not only demonstrate knowledge, but willingness to
share, and seriousness of intent. Follow this with a series of measured
exchanges and see just how helpful s/he is. The overwhelming number of
people in the SR are incredibly sincere and generous. You also have the
great pond called the Atlantic Ocean between the two of you. I used to
worry at first that they would show up at my doorstep someday. That just
simply isn't going to happen.
I am in the enviable position of just having opened up "pandora's box" of
immigrants from the village of Ulic and environs. I have located where a
large number of them settled and am in the process of matching up American
with Slovak national families. I have people in Ulic who are looking and
people in America looking. Even being familiar with the village, you still
have to approach each introduction with kid gloves. Not only to show I am
serious, but also to measure how interested the receiving end is. I need
not tell you how many of our relatives are NOT interested in genealogy!
Good Luck and tell us how you make out.
From: Dollins [mailto:axd2@...]
Sent: Thursday, January 08, 2004 8:48 AM
Subject: Re: [S-R] Your expert opinions needed
> It is always wise to be cautious. Since Ladislav has not made anysuspicious requests I would continue the correspondence. He appears to have
a legitimate interest since your surname is the same as the family he is
looking for in the USA.
> Genealogy research by its nature requires you to trust that peoplewanting or needing help . . . There is a serendipity in helping, often by
accident relatives make contact or are put in contact with one another.
Last fall I went back and forth with someone who contacted me about one of
my surnames. His first email was "want photos?" (Talk about suspicious!) We
kept writing for a couple of weeks and eventually discovered that we have
the same great-grandparents. Now I have about fifty more cousins in Slovakia
than I did a couple of months ago!
Keep writing. You never know what might come of the correspondence!
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