13 December 2011

The Question - The Ask and the Answer

We have all gotten THE QUESTION. You know the one. It goes something like this: “Could I have a copy of what you have on the Smith side of the family?” It stops you in your tracks because you wonder what your cousin is really asking. Does she want you to send her the three binders containing all of the documents and notes you have compiled? Or, does she simply want a flash drive with all of the files labeled Smith?

The Ask 
Because it is not all that simple to collate and hand over your blood, sweat and tears research, your first step is finding out the answer to this question: “What does she want to know?” In this case, my cousin would like any more information before Sarah Murtagh, grandmother of Bubba whose surname was Smith. The person is specific, but the any more is still rather broad.

The Answer
What you do next is up to you, but here is what I suggest and what I will post here on my blog as an example. In lieu of grilling her further and because I don’t want to turn off any family member asking about our family history, I propose to answer this question: “Who were the parents of Sarah Murtagh?” If my cousin wants to explore back in time before my great, great grandmother, then a documented piece giving her the next step would be the most helpful. The question is specific and giving her the answer is doable. 

As a genealogist or family historian, have you gotten the question from a family member? How did you handle it?

On the flip side of the question, have you been trying to figure out how to ask your relative about the research she is doing on your family tree? Decide what you would most like to know, and then ask the question. Make it as specific as possible, such “Who were my great grandparents?" or "Where did great grandfather John Smith live in 1920?” Your question will let her know you are interested in her family research and will probably lead to her sharing more information than you ever thought you wanted to know. 

Happy asking and answering!

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!


  1. I'm sure most of us have struggled with this dilemma at least once. Thanks for your sensible suggestions.

  2. Must admit it's the opposite in my family. My 'olds' are so reluctant to talk about the past/family, it's like getting blood from a stone!!

  3. I get many requests like this and send them a descendant report on our oldest ancestor. If they are a beginning genealogist or just curious, I ask that they send me corrections and additions for their immediate family. If they are advanced, I ask them to send me their own report so we can compare. They will ask if they want more, but most often you'll never hear from them again. lol.


Please leave your comments, ideas and suggestions. Your thoughts are important to me.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


#apgen 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy 97th General Hospital Adobe Photoshop Elements Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Album Analysis Ancestral Ancestry Android Apps Archive Army Association of Professional Genealogists atDNA Bailey Beginning Genealogy Bichon Frise Blog award Blogging Book Review Brainard Brisk Bristol Bristol CT Bubba Bubbaisms Bubbie Burrell Butzbach Carnival of Genealogy Cemetery Certification Christmas citations Civil War Clift collaboration community conference Conferences Connecticut connection Correlation December Dell Streak derivative Digital Digital Images DNA Documenting Sources Dropbox ebay education Evidence evience Family Family Finder Family History Family History Centers Family History Story Family Tree FamilyTreeDNA Favorite Photo Fearless Females feedly Feeds Feldman Fishing for Family Fishing Friday Food Footnote Friday Footnotes Forenames FotoBridge Foxboro MA Frankfurt Freshford Kilkenny Ireland Genbank Geneadaddybloggers Genealogical Genealogical Education Genealogical Goodness Genealogical Organization Genealogical Proof Genealogical Proof Standard Genealogical Research Genealogical Serendipity Genealogical Success Genealogist genealogy Genealogy Beginner genealogy conference Genealogy Resources Geneamommybloggers GeneaScrappers Genetic Genealogy Germans Germany Gift Gift Idea Ginter Giveaway Glasgow Goals Going In-Depth Google Google Books Google Reader Grace Gravestone Gremley Hammond Hanukkah haplogroup Haplogroup W Heritage Hill History Holidays Holocaust Homes Horse IAJGS Image editing Images immigrant immigration indeterminable information Interviews Ireland Irish Jewish Jewish Genealogy Kiesel Kindle Kindle Fire Kindle Fire HD Lamb Learning to Blog Learns to Blog letters LibraryThing Maps Mary Massachusetts Melting Pot Memorials MGP Study Group 2 Michigan Microfilm Military Military Monday Minsk Motor Torpedo Boat MTB mtDNA Murtagh Murtaugh Music My Girls Mystery Photo Mystic NARA Navy NERGC New England New Year New York New York City Newspapers NGS Nook Color Northern Ireland Norwich CT Notes Old Photos Organization original Passover Photo Photo Clues Photo Edits Photo Organization Photo Preservation Photo Repair Photo Scanning Photograph Photographing Photographs Phylotree Places Plock Poland Polish Ponce Portsmouth NH Postcard Posterity primary information privacy ProQuest Providence Prussia Prussians pt boat Questions Reader Real Life reasonably exhaustive search Recording records reference notes Relatives Remembering Research Research Trip Resources reverb10 Revere Revere MA Riga Latvia Russia Salt Lake City Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Saturday Stars Scanning Photos Scanning Slides Scrapbook Scrapbook Sunday Scrapbooking Scrapook Screen-O-Matic Second Life secondary information Secret Sentimental Sephardic Sephardic Jews Sharing Memories Shoer SLIG Smith social media Somerville MA source Sources Spanish Inquisition Speaking Spring Stonington Stonington CT Stories Story Sumbeg Surnames Tablet Tablets Tech Tuesday Technology Technorati Temple Israel Temple Jacob Thanksgiving The In-Depth Genealogist thorough research Tombstone Tuesday Traditions Transcription Travers Tree Tuesday's Tip UGA Utah Utah Genealogical Assocation Veterans Day Video Virtual GeneaScrappers Vistula Vital Records Washington DC Webinar Websites Weddings Windows Live Writer Wlh Wloclawek Wordless Wednesday World War I World War II Writing yDNA Yearbooks York ME Your Family Tree Magazine YouTube Zayde Zemanta Zinio