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Letter/e-mails to a Public Repository

Letter/mails sent to a public repository are a little shorter than letter/e-mails sent to relatives.  Get to the point by briefly and concisely describing research problems and then give only enough facts to help the staff understand your request.  It is a good idea to send along a pedigree chart and a few family group sheets to help with the explanation.  Make sure that the complete name of each relative, place of residence and the approximate date of the event are noted and that the name and the address of the writer is printed legibly.  Do not expect detailed research.  It is not wise to ask for all the data in the institution on a particular family, as this question is far too general.  The small number of staff and the large number of requests prevent staff from spending much time on individual interests.  Remember that specific and brief questions have the best chance of getting an answer. 

When writing to public repositories, ask for copies of guides they have to assist in researching family and local history.  The PANB, for example, will send out various guides including a beginners' guide, and genealogical  guides for each of the province's fifteen counties containing lists of microfilmed records that can be borrowed through local libraries.  Some institutions will send out material on interlibrary loan or will photocopy items.  Most public institutions will not undertake extensive photocopying tasks.  If you request a small number of copies, include sufficient payment to cover photocopying expenses and postage and offer to pay any extra should costs be higher than expected.

It is not a good idea to prepare a form letter/e-mail and send copies to various provincial and local institutions as this may result in duplication of research by staff, causes irritation, and can result in your request not being answered.  It is better to write a separate letter/e-mail to each institution outlining research needs and informing them of requests sent elsewhere.