Which method of contacting a possible relative do you use, cold calls or snail mail? What are the pros or cons for each? I know which I would prefer to do, but that does not mean it is the right answer. It is just the right answer for me. Let’s delve a bit deeper and see.
- Could have instant gratification
- with a positive connection you can begin sharing information and photo’s sooner
- You are calling a stranger (even if they turn out to be related)
- You can be hung up on
- You can be yelled at
- People might think you are crazy
- People might think you are looking for something more than family information
- Most likely to get a response (thought it might not be in the time frame you are looking for)
- A few years from now, you might hear from a descendant of the person you wrote to because they saved the original letter.
- You build a slight report with the individual before you speak to them
- You have a chance to state your case in the letter, which will probably be read before your call is answered
- You can share a family tree with the letter to show the family connection
- You have to wait for the response, longer than you like
- You might not get a response
- Its possible the letter could be thrown away before it is read
With these lists, it is obvious that I like to mail a letter. I find more pro’s in this scenario. To be honest, I have an issue talking on the phone to someone I do not know. I do not like to call people who I have no current connection with. It’s a silly phobia, but I have had it for ever and will probably always feel this way.
With a letter, I provide as much information as possible and include a family tree to show how we are related. Plus, I include a self-addressed stamped envelope to make replying easy. I have written only one letter that was not replied to. It has been just over two years since I wrote the letter and when I decided I would write again, I found a Facebook message in the “other” message box from the son of the man I wrote to. He did not see my letter, but he found my query on Genealogy Wise for his grandfather’s obituary. So, at this point I have an answer from every family I have reached out to. I know this is not the normal and I feel truly blessed that each person has opened their hearts to the family history I have been able to share and for their sharing information with me.
Which method do you prefer to reach out to potential relatives, cold calls or snail mail?