By Amanda Forson, FamilyLink.com, Inc.
Sometimes branches of families drift apart, or else do not keep in contact for who-knows-what reason. When there is no particular reason for family members to stay incommunicado, re-connecting is a great way of gaining family history information.
Day One: Determine which family branch(es) you want to get back in contact with, or identify particular ancestors for whom you would like further information.
In my case, there is a rare name in my ancestry that really was changed at Ellis Island. Anyone currently located in the United States with this surname is likely to be related to me. I have never met many members of the different branches of this group, though I have been looking them up as part of my research on my great-grandparent’s siblings.
Day Two: Open your family history software and figure out who is the most recent connection to the family branch, and/or still alive. A good age range to check would be anyone currently alive between the ages of 25-70.
Day Three: Find out what contact information you can for that person. Email address is the top priority, but address and phone numbers are also good. Look the most likely person up using Google. For any addresses (email or otherwise) found, write them down and get ready to send off a large amount of emails and/or letters.
Day Four: Continue your search on WorldVitalRecords.com to double check whether or not they show up on the SSDI or any other databases. For any addresses (email or otherwise) found, write them down and get ready to send off a large amount of emails and/or letters.
Day Five: Write the person you want to re-connect with a short letter asking for more information concerning the ancestor in question, and explain how you are related to that person. This should eliminate the “cold call” feeling when done well. Also be willing to provide information about your side of the living family along with the family history, as appropriate.
Day Six: Include as SASE, and mail off the completed letter, phone the person in question, or send off the email. If the address is old, one way of checking on it is to write: Do Not Forward: Address correction Requested” on the envelope. This way you will get the letter back with the new address on it.
Day Seven: Wait for a response. This may take more than fifteen minutes, but there are also other people that need to be researched and more mail to be sent off. Feel free to repeat the process, or to send off more than one letter on day five. Remember to change the section of how the person is related to you to reflect the relationship to each individual, and his or her gender.