Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Family stories - Getting the information

It's Sentimental Sunday from Geneabloggers!
I'm not sure if this exactly fits into that theme, but I'll give it a go!

After a visit from my mom this weekend I have realized I really do need to get all this information that is in my family members heads down onto paper. They have so much to share, it's my job to find out the best way to get it from them before it is too late.

I personally have found it difficult up to this point to get the information I have been looking for in an organized fashion.

What hasn't worked so far:

  • Listening to stories - While I love the family stories, and don't want anyone to stop telling them to me, I admit I have a terrible memory and am afraid I will mess up the details of the stories they have told me.
  • E-mail requests - I have tried to extract information this way, but many of my relatives are not necessarily as computer literate as I am, so I can understand the confusion.

So this is what I am going to do:

Send them (via snail mail) a package of information. This will include:

  1. Letter - stating what my goals are, and an explaination of how to fill out the included forms.
  2. Family group record - partially filled out
  3. Family tree - a part of my family tree that relates to them to show what I have so far
  4. Self addressed stamped envelope

Here is a generic letter I was thinking of sending. I would personalize it depending on whom I am sending it too.

Dear Family Member;

I am so excited to be working on our family history!

I want to be able to give all of this information I have to anyone in our family that might be interested, in particular I want to be able to pass this along to my young daughter.

But first I need your help!

How can you help? Just tell me everything you can about our family! A big task I know, so I've included some forms that will help get things organized.

I would be so grateful if you could fill them out for me at your convenience. Don’t worry if you can’t fill out everything, just do the best you can. I have partially filled out some information to get you started. If what I have is wrong, please correct it.

Each record is meant to be for a couple and their children.

For example - Your parents information would be filled out on the top of one of the sheets, at the bottom you will include their children's information (so you and any siblings)

You could do the same form then, for your grandparents, aunts/uncles, and yes, don't forget you and your spouse! And even for your own children as well!

If you want to add stories or other information, go right ahead, write on backs of sheets, or add your own paper, I’d love to hear it all!

When you are done, just put all of those sheets into the envelope I've provided.

I have also included a little snippet from our family tree that I have so far.

If you have any questions, feel free to call me at ***-***-**** or email or "facebook" me.

I have also started a blog I am very excited about, where you can follow my stories of doing genealogy research

Thanks so much for taking the time to help me out!

Love Kelly

Here is a family group record form I was thinking of using from Ancestry.

Any feedback? Do you think that is a good way to start? What do the rest of you do to get information you are looking for from family members?


  1. I saw your comment to The Family Curator's post, Time for Genealogy Spring Cleaning. You have some interesting articles and a good start to your blog. Welcome and have fun!

  2. Hi Kelly!
    Have you thought about tape recording stories your family members share with you? Then you will have exactly what they say! Also, be careful... you don't want to overwhelm anyone by asking for to much info at one time. You may be better off asking for bits at a time. Welcome to the blogging world, look forward to reading more and hearing of your genealogy experiences! :-)

  3. Thanks both for stopping by!
    Good idea with the tape recording. Maybe I'll invest in one someday.

    True - I am sure I could be overwhelming them. Probably because I want to get all the information at once, but maybe I should just be focusing on a couple ancestors at a time, to make it more enjoyable for them