Genealogy: Where you confuse the dead & irritate the living....

Surnames: Calaway, Dunn, Evans, Johnson, Lindsey, Rollins, Short & Williams

States: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, S. Carolina, Tennessee, Texas

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Letter to the Editor....

So you've searched the census', death certificates, birth certificates, cemetery records, other words, just about everything you can think of. Yet, you still are having problems in finding some of those darn elusive relatives! Well, I might have a venue for you to try that you haven't thought of before. And before you think that I came up with this particular hint, don't! lol I found it in Ancestry's Magazine back in December of 2007. (((Ancestry Magazine, Nov/Dec 2007, page 10, "Reaching Out with a Letter to the Editor", author: Dr. Ann David)))

And basically what the hint is, writing to the editor of the local newspaper of the town your relative(s) is from, asking for some assistance in your genealogy research. Of course, this idea wouldn't work for a large populated city, but for those small towns, you stand a very good chance of receiving some feedback from relatives/friends still living in the area. It would at least be worth a try, right?

You're not guaranteed that the editor will print your letter, but as a whole, small towns are friendly & usually willing to help others. Dr. Ann David said she wrote her letter & after it was printed in the newspaper, she had her first reply back within 10 days. A long missing relative gave her information going back 5, 6 & 7 generations past. Now how many of us wouldn't "love" to get such a reply back with all of that info? :)

Dr. Ann David had part of her letter that she sent to the editor, as well as giving 4 things/hints to keep in mind & I quote those parts of her article here:

Quote -- Letter from Dr. Ann David to the editor....
Dear Editor,
For the past year, I've been trying to trace the earlier members of my family. In searching for the Allens, I've come to a standstill in Overton County, Tennessee, & more specifically, in Livingston.
If you know anyone who might know where these people are buried -- or anything at all concerning these people -- & would enlist their aid in my behalf, I would be most grateful. Anything at all would help.
Thank you in advance for your time. I hope to hear from you or possible relatives or friends very soon.
Unquote Letter...

Quote -- Hints from Dr. Ann David:
1. Choose small community newspapers. Large cities receive an overabundance of letters -- printing your plea may not be a high priority. Small community papers, however, could be pleased to print a letter from an outsider who is interested in their community, its heritage, & its inhabitants.

2. Send the information you'd like printed. Newspapers can't print what you don't send. While odds are good that they'll pare down the letter for space, the paper I contacted printed everything I sent. The paper you contact may do the same.

3. Respect respondents. Begin by thanking the editors -- you may need their help again. Then be sure you're cooperative with your new found family. When you receive replies from people who can't help, thank them anyway. They may later happen upon just the source you need.

4. Write more letters -- electronically & by hand. Senior family members may prefer handwritten letters, while other generations may prefer e-mail. Always remember that you're asking strangers to share their time with you. Be accommodating, understanding & appreciative of everything they offer.

FYI: If you don't know the local newspaper for a particular area/town, you can look in my sidebar of "My Favorite Genealogy Links" & there you'll find a link to the "US Newspaper List" web site.

I hate to say this, but I have yet to try any of this myself. As I said, I found it back in December of 2007 & my time has just not allowed me to do much genealogy research of that type. Time is finally starting to free up for me & I will most assuredly be trying this for some of my elusive relatives. :)

Good Luck!!!!

Later, Deb


Greta Koehl said...

Thanks for passing this tip on! I usually read Ancestry magazine, but I must have missed this one. Most of my ancestors lived in what are still small towns, so this might just work!

Deb said...

You are more than welcomed Greta! Please keep me updated on how it works for you! And glad to hear that I was able to give out a helpful tip there! :)

Take care & keep on genealogying (I know that's not a word, but hey, it fits!)

Later, Deb

Rose Mary said...

Thanks for the advice, Deb. I'll be checking through my papers and see if that will be an option for me!