Should You Overwhelm that New Cousin with Information?

It can be tempting to share everything you have with a newly discovered cousin. Sharing is not bad, but try and avoid overwhelming your recently discovered relative. Their level of interest may not be as high as yours and telling them that:

  • your uncle got drunk, threatened his mother, and ended up in jail for thirty days
  • another aunt went insane
  • a cousin was killed after he passed out on the railroad tracks and a train ran over him
  • your uncle’s body was exhumed three times to be autopsied

may be a bit overwhelming. I’m not saying to keep stories from your cousin or to paint them a reality that did not happen. Just don’t overwhelm them. You might even want to wait to share ten generations of ancestry and all the names you have.

Even if your shared past is not quite as colorful, your kinfolk may not be ready to read through forty pages of deed abstracts in an attempt to determine who the father was for your 18th century Virginia ancestor.

Your goal with the new genealogist is to not scare them off. Take it slowly, focus on helping them with the people they are currently stuck on, and go from there. They may even have information on recent relatives that you do not.



5 thoughts on “Should You Overwhelm that New Cousin with Information?

  1. Patty

    As a matter of fact, over this past weekend an unknown relative contacted us about my husband’s side. Names he’s known but never knew they were almost in r backyard. We r planning in getting to get her soon. Thank u for this in-site to keep in mind 4 both of us. Go slow so we can understand how they r related.

  2. Lynn

    Michael, this is not a criticism but maybe a heads up. There have been multiple miss used words in your tips this week. If a human is proof reading, maybe there is an issue?

    1. michaeljohnneill Post author

      Thanks for letting me know. Some tips didn’t get through the usual “last round” of proofing. I think I’ve got the problem solved. Thanks for reading!


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