What is the best way to approach a living person you dont know about help with their ancestry

+7 votes
What is the best way to approach a living person you dont know about help with their ancestry. I'm doing a one name study meaning I need to track every occurence of the surname, what is the best wayto  approach people I dont know with said surname in order to get help with linking them to their ancestry. Im concerned about upsetting anyone but without some help it is going to be very difficult to complete, I also think some would be very interested in this and would like to help.
in The Tree House by Paul Taylor G2G6 Mach 1 (15.8k points)
I agree with Frank's suggestion as well. Buy some bright envelopes to put the letter in to grab the attention of the receiver. Also put "in regards to ______ on the outside. Remember to include all of your information like address and phone number. You might also write up an abbreviated ancestry of yourself to get them hooked. I would suggest putting a five dollar bill in the envelope but that might be too crass. What do you think?



2 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
I don't think your asking will actually "upset" someone. I think that when a stranger asks personal questions, they become naturally defensive or protective. I would think that some initial reaction might be your are selling or stealing. Making them feel comfortable with you would be my first priority.

I think the email or snail mail suggested by Frank is a good idea.  If you are using email, you might provide a link to a page on wikitree explaining what your project is.  I believe people feel more comfortable when they see it is publicly available on a reputable site.

Also, I would include some information as to how you got their name.
by Ken Sargent G2G6 Mach 5 (57.5k points)
selected by Paul Taylor
So if I send someone an email with the subject line of, "Hey, your roots are showing!" they would want me to add them to a one name study? :-) Mags
Good advise, I think reputation is probably quite important.
+4 votes
You could email or use snail mail. What worked for me was sending out a letter with a self-addressed and stamped envelope inside. I was looking for couisins in a Pennsylvania county. After some time, I received two responses which led to finding cousins.

You could also send a communication and follow it up with a phone call. If you like, you could just start making phone calls if you have their phone numbers.
by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
Good advice but actually one thing I dont have is their postal address, in most cases I have email address, sometimes telephone no.
How many Taylor's would are your thinking of contacting?

You could email them first and if you have the phone number, give them a few days to think about your correspondence and then phone them.
None, there are far too many Taylors !

Im studying Hurved/Hurvid - probably less then twenty
One location of the Hurvid surname is Devon, England.
Frank, yes I know that in fact I have probably mapped 95% of all hurvids/hurveds in my ancestry tree Im just trying to tie up some loose ends which I can only do my talking to people.

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