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Letter/E-mails to Relatives

Letter/e-mails to relatives can be "newsy" and friendly but not excessively long.  Begin the letter by stating that their family history is being researched. 

Avoid the use of genealogical  abbreviations as they may confuse the reader.  Suggest the use of approximations for dates if they are not sure of the exact dates.  Encourage them to include any family stories pertaining to that particular branch. 

Convince the reader that a high value is placed on their contributions by using phrases like "You may be interested in knowing..", "You must be very busy but...", "Would you be interested in helping me find..", or, "Do you suppose that between us we could solve..".  Such phrases will remove the tendency for letter/e-mails to be a series of demands and will make them a little friendlier. 

The best chance of having a letter answered is to include a stamped, self-addressed envelope.  Always offer to pay for photocopying and other costs incurred.  If you receive no response in a month or so, jog their memory with a telephone call.