Genealogy Communications

Late Night Snack Ice Cream

I am adapting my blog writing habits. Obviously what I was previously doing wasn’t working because I have slowed down considerably. I am not a stay at home mother, but technically I am. (Don’t you love how that works). I’m home all day taking care of the laundry, the dishes, cooking breakfast and lunch, watching The Price is Right with Grandpa, and whatever else may pop up from 7am through whenever I’m no longer needed. So now I am taking these quiet moments when the house is asleep or almost asleep, and I’m answering emails and writing in my blog.

Since it’s been a tougher week then I was expecting and it’s only Monday, I’m also having my emergency ice cream tonight. The stores have just been restocked after the hurricane. Imagine my surprise last week when I went in search of a new pint of emergency ice cream and the WHOLE ice cream section was EMPTY. The only ice cream or frozen foods in sight were what had been ordered before the hurricane. Unfortunately, my favorite Jimmy Fallon ice cream was not one of those.

So here I am, eating my ice cream (I’m getting on the treadmill tomorrow don’t worry), watching my shows on my DVR and now I’m going to write about something that has come up for me. Genealogy Communications. I’ve never been the type to assume that I know more about something then someone else. I’m just not wired that way. So remember that for the next 15 minutes while you read the book I’m about to write.

The more I write on the blog and the more information I put on the website, it means I’m receiving more emails from various avenues. That’s a great thing! I’m not complaining at all!

The thing is, about 80% of the emails/comments/communications I get are almost un-answerable. The thing is, when I send out a genealogy communication, I explain who I am and how I am connected. Then I go on to ask a question or communicate the reason behind my email. Almost all these things are usually missing from the genealogy emails I receive.

So in light of this, I’m putting up my communication rules when it comes to genealogy. I am in no way saying anyone needs to follow this. I’m also not assuming that any of these things are the correct way of going about it. I’m just stumbling my way through this internet genealogy thing too. However, over the years of the website, I’ve been through a lot in terms of communicating.

Kathleen’s Guidelines to Genealogy Emails

  1. Kindly introduce yourself. It’s always great to give at least your first name and a brief explanation of how you are connected to the tree/family/individual that you are wanting to communicate about.
  2. If there is anything I’d like to share, I usually put it in the middle of the communication. This is always optional. I also try to break up each subject into it’s own paragraph. It makes the email much easier to follow.
  3. The purpose of my writing. Whether I’m trying to get sources for a word of mouth fact or if I’m just wanting to open communication with another person researching the tree/family/individual that I am.
  4. A brief goodbye and communication methods. Usually I’ll just say Good Luck/Hope to hear from you or something of that sort and sign my name. Then underneath my name, I like to write out my email address and website address. This gives the person I’m writing a way of looking into me before writing me back. That way they know I’m not some loon looking to do something nefarious.
  5. ALWAYS RESPOND. ALWAYS RESPOND. ALWAYS RESPOND. A few years ago I was not so tough on myself with this one. However, once I settled into one email address, I never ignore an email. If you’re still waiting on a response from me, it was lost in ‘The Great E-Mail Disaster’ 5 years ago, and you should probably contact me again. leeny.moore [a] gmail.com.

It’s very important to answer emails. Even if it’s just to say you don’t have anymore information on that person because it isn’t your direct line. People aren’t going to yell at you because you didn’t have the information they wanted (I hope not anyway). Most are just hoping you can help, but are understanding if you can’t. I like to keep a list of everyone who I’ve communicated with (a 2 sided communication), so I can let them now if I run across anything as I’m researching my lines.

I’m not going to put anyone on the spot because again, I’m just not wired that way. I’m just saying, emailing me one sentence that gives me no information except that your are the third cousin, twice removed of this person is not enough for me to go on. This is what runs through my head as I’m thinking about how to answer the email.

  • Are you just wanting to know who I am?
  • If you are contacting me through Find a Grave, are you wanting a copy of the picture? Or are you wanting to know if I am related to this person?
  • What exactly would you like from me? My whole family tree? All of my Jimmy Fallon ice cream? I don’t understand here.
  • Do you expect a response back? Since there was no question, how am I supposed to know?
  • Are you wanting to give me new information or do you want me to give you information? You can’t have my Jimmy Fallon ice cream. It’s the only pint in the county. (Not really, I’m dramatic.)

As a few of my distant cousins and readers can tell you, my responses can be quite lengthy, even when I have specific questions to answer. If you’re not asking me a question, I could go on for two years about each line of my family.  Not to mention it could take another two emails for us to communicate what we are wanting from each other.

Here is an example of what I’m trying to say:

DON’T:

I am the third cousin twice removed of Mollie Jane Webb.

DO:

Hello Kathleen,

My name is Jeremy Clarkson (Not really, I’m just watching Top Gear.) and I’ve been researching my mother’s side of the family. I recently ran across your blog where you were talking about the Webb Family.

My mother grew up in Kentucky but left after she married. We don’t know anything about the family that was left in Kentucky but I’d love to know more about what happened with Mollie Jane Webb and her descendants. I am descended through Mollie’s brother Reuben Vincent Webb.

Hope to hear from you,

Kelly Clarkson (Not really, I’m just amused by all my celebrity name dropping.)

notarealperson [a] getalife.com

It’s much easier to answer the second example! I can form a quick, informative response based on what the sender is actually trying to accomplish.

Disclaimer: This is my favorite part. I am in no way affiliated with Ben & Jerry’s. (Unfortunately.) I am in no way affiliated with Jimmy Fallon or NBC.  I was not compensated for showing my love of Ben & Jerry’s Late Night Snack. (Unfortunately.) I am in no way an expert in communications, genealogy, or writing complete sentences. (Obviously.) If this post has offended you or upset you, I am sorry but you can not have my Jimmy Fallon ice cream, it was the last in the county. (Not really, I’m being dramatic again.)

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2 thoughts on “Genealogy Communications”

  1. This post is so true of not just genealogy communication these days, but ALL communication I receive via email. I teach writing at a college, and I had a student email me the following:

    ‘i don’t no what to write about so you should help me out’

    No name, no reference to which assignment, nothing! I repeat, no name! And this is how you write your writing teacher! I weep, I do.

    I like your rules! I may just steal them! And also, your post made me giggle madly, so thank you. I needed a good one; my Monday was also ice cream worthy. I made do with a DQ Blizzard. :)

    1. Oh my goodness Dana! I can’t believe that’s an actual e-mail from a student. Then again, maybe I can!

      I’m always hesitant to post things because I don’t think I have enough authority to lecture others. I just couldn’t keep it in about this subject though. It’s getting worse and worse!

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