AmericaGen Study Group
Chapter 8 Homework
Reference: Greenwood, Val D. “Successful Correspondence.” In The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 4th ed.,165-74. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2017.
I have to admit that when I first saw the topic for this week’s session, I was underwhelmed. Reading the chapter didn’t change my opinion. My first reaction was “More printing and filing? UGH!”
Last week I finally started digitizing my research files. One of the first documents I scanned was a death certificate for Calhoun Cail, who died in Ft. Myers, Florida in 1967. In going through his information in my Legacy file, I realized I did not have an obituary for him. Googling for Lee County, Florida obituaries, I came across an obituary index maintained by the Lee County Genealogical Society. I found an index entry for Calhoun Cail’s obituary and sent a message to the email provided on the website, asking for a copy of the obituary.
As the author mentioned, be as specific as possible in your request for information. My email was short and to the point:
I would like to request a copy of the obituary for Calhoun Cail. It was published in the Fort Myers News-Press on March 13, 1967, page 2, section a.
Thanks in advance for your help.
If there is a fee for the request, please let me know the charge and how to pay it.
Just this morning I received a fabulous reply that not only included the obituary but also information about the funeral home and how to order the death certificate. I already have the death certificate, but I do intend to follow up with the funeral home.
I tend to not save emails because Gmail makes it so easy to keep and search for old emails that I felt it wasn’t necessary. But in going through my documents to digitize, I realized that I have correspondence from old accounts that I no longer have access to. Geocities, anyone? I printed very little of my early correspondence and now wish I had some of it. So, I am adding saving my email correspondence to my organization project.
The request for the obituary and the reply are definitely ones I do not want to lose access to, but I don’t want to print it just to scan it again. That’s using a lot of resources (paper, toner, my time) for paper I don’t intend to keep. Instead, I can save the correspondence as a PDF, right from Gmail. Instructions for printing to straight to PDF can be found here.
I’ve already shared that I save all of my digital documents in one folder, rather than having multiple subfolders broken down by surname or location. To name this file, I am using the person’s name, the word “Correspondence,” and a brief description of the subject and date of the correspondence. When I sort the files by name, I can quickly see all of the correspondence I have about the person of interest. For the obituary request, the file name is “Cail-Calhoun_Correspondence_Request-for-Obituary-August-8-2018.” The reply was saved as “Cail-Calhoun_Correspondence_Answer-to-Request-for-Obituary-August-13-2018.” And of course the PDF of the obituary was also saved under a separate file named “Cail-Calhoun_1967_Obituary.”
Since I am horrible with research logs, I am not going to bother with a spreadsheet or log as suggested in the chapter. However, as I go through my current project, I will search my Gmail account for past correspondence, save the emails as PDF, and do the proper analysis and correlation, just as I am with other documents.