Our genealogist, Vicki Fleming, passed away on April 9, 2012. Her funeral was held on April 12, 2012 at her gravesite in the Congregation Micah Cemetery, Nashville. Messages can be left at http://www.legacy.com/guestbook/DignityMemorial/guestbook.aspx?n=vicki-fleming&pid=156940846.
Guidelines for Genealogy Queries from Sara Murray Leonard
It is a privilege to be the Genealogist for the Murray Clan of NA. My desire is to be able to help anyone whenever I can in researching their family tree. Over the last 40+ years I have received many queries, some with almost no information to go on and others with way too much. The following six steps will gain you the best results and help you keep your information organized.
6 Steps to Writing a Successful Genealogy Query
Pick the PRIMARY surname (last name) of your query.
Note that this is your “main” surname and should have the highest priority
“Shotgun” versus “Laser Beam” Genealogy Queries:
The Shotgun method: Is the WRONG way to organize your query. This is like you might imagine - BOOM! Anything and everything is listed. Every last surname that you are interested in is mentioned.
You can find this on personal genealogy home pages (which is OK) but it is not advisable for a successful genealogy query. If you use the shotgun method and give too much information you are spreading yourself too thin.
The Laser Beam Method: Is the BEST way to organize your query. Keep your information in a tight group or in a “laser beam” of solid information and your query will be the most productive.
Here is an example:
Need Parents of MURRAY, Walter ,b: 1735 ,Sutherland, Scotland ; d:1812, Lower Barney?s River, Pictou County, Nova Scotia; m: Christian (poss. SUTHERLAND). They had the following children: Janet, married John FRASER; David married Margaret HUGGAN; Christina married Duncan MACKENZIE; Catherine married William SMITH; William married Sarah CROWE; Margaret and Elizabeth. Walter MURRAY left from Ulla Pool Scotland and arrived at Pictou Nova Scotia in 1773 on the ship ?Hetor?. If you have any information on Walter and his family please contact <your email address> or write to me at <your street address>.
Also researching the Fraser, Huggan, Mackenzie, and Crowe families.
Note: see how well this reads? This query covers a lot of ground and is very easy for others to read.
The “also researching” line -The RIGHT way: See the four families mentioned in the “also researching” sentence? These are families that are close knit with this particular group or cluster of people.
The “also researching” line -The WRONG way: If you are only trying to save a few dollars and say: Also researching the Fraser, Sutherland, Huggan, Mackenzie, Smith, Crowe, Harris, Coffin, Severance, Noyes etc. families, and list everyone under the sun who is NOT close knit with your query - you will get TONS OF FALSE LEADS.
Start with any specific information that you are seeking.
Are you looking for the parents, children, wife of a certain ancestor?
If so, START OFF with what you want to know: Examples of the start of a genealogy query:
1. Need parents (wife, husband, children etc.) of......
2. What is the maiden name of.....
3. Any information regarding....
4 Wish correspondence with others researching.....
Narrow it down to a specific location or region.
It’s fine to say, “Researching the LEWIS surname in Georgia.” if you know that there were very few LEWIS in Georgia. BUT- if you are searching for the HENRY surname in Pennslyvania, you will get tons of false leads because there are so many of them.
If your query is for a very common the surname, you MUST list a smaller region.
My SMITH line in New York is concentrated in Tompkins Co., NY. If I mentioned any more than Tompkins Co. (other than a surrounding county or two), I would be shooting myself in the foot. SMITH is a common surname everywhere!
Be as specific as possible.
You may be looking for a certain person. By all means - make them the focal point of your query.
If you are more interested in anything you can get for a certain group of families in a certain area - go for the END of the line. Or in other words - the OLDEST known folks that you have information about.
Only mention CLOSE KNIT FAMILIES in the “also researching” line.
Again, the last part of your query should say, “Also researching the A, B, C, D families.”
Make sure that you do NOT include everyone that you are researching. They need to be very closely intertwined with your primary surname. Otherwise, your query becomes too general and loses it’s punch.
Re-write for clarity.
Use all lower case except for “main body surnames.”
After you have written your query read it aloud. Have someone else read it. Is it easy to follow?
Look at the MURRAY example again.
IMPORTANT NOTE: please make sure that the SURNAME in the main body of the query has ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. See how the surnames are in all caps? Also, see how the surnames in the “also researching” families ARE NOT all caps? This is the format that is easiest on the eyes. Also, include a street address in your query. Not everyone has e-mail. If your query is printed and given to someone who does not have an e-mail address, they will not be able to get in contact with you.
If you follow the above six steps people will know who you are looking for and will know where to direct information to you. Also when you are asking others for help remember that they too have a lot going on in their lives and may not be able to answer your questions as quickly as you would hope. Be patient, there are no instant answers to all our genealogy questions....a good example is that it took me seven years to find out that my great great grandmothers maiden name was MURRAY, I thought the MURRAY on her name came from her Husband as he was Capt. Jared MURRAY....After seven years of searching my aunt looked at me one day and said “Oh my, I thought you knew she was a MURRAY and married a MURRAY......”