That First Encounter

When communicating with a new relative whose interest level in genealogy is not quite known, take it slowly. They:

  • might not be able to reply immediately–give them some time
  • might not be quite as interested in the family history as you–believe it or not, it is possible
  • might be put off if you share too many “black sheep” stories immediately–they might think you are only out to share the “family dirt”
  • might not want to read five rambling paragraphs in your first email–get to the point
  • might not respond if you immediately point out errors in their online tree–don’t make them feel like you are proofreading their tree
  • might not be interested in sharing details of their personal life–they may be your fifth cousin, not your “bestie.”

Your goal is to establish a line of communication and see if there’s a willingness to share/exchange information. Keep that goal in mind.