Friday, September 13, 2013

When Asking For Help ... Part 1

I'm in a number of groups on Facebook that deal with genealogy in specific areas of Canada. I joined those groups so that I might be able to learn more about the resources available for researchers like myself and maybe, just maybe, help those in need of genealogy assistance. Many times people are asking for help in finding out more about an ancestor that lived in those area. Maybe they have a census record for that distant family member and then that person disappears, other times all they have to go on is that a family story that stated the ancestor lived in a specific place at a specific time.

However, one thing in common with many queries is that they rarely provide enough information for someone help to them. Here is a real life example from a regional group that even after 2 weeks has yet to have a single reply, "I am working on Sinclair, Hunter, McKays and so many other family trees. It has been difficult finding the families. I hope someone on this page will be able to help me".

The problem I see with this kind of overarching plea for help is that they have only provided surnames, and relatively common ones at that. When asking for help try to give specifics and focus on one person. What do you already know about the Sinclair family you are looking for ... forenames are a good start. Birth (baptism), marriage and death (funeral) dates can really help in narrowing the focus. What county where they living in? Finally, what were the records that you first or last seen them? Was it a census record or maybe a baptism transcription?

In part 2 I will show a query that caught my attention and ended up with me learning a little more about the military in pre-Confederation New Brunswick.

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