Writing Better Queries

Union County, Georgia                                                              The GAGenWeb Project

Writing Better Queries

The purpose of a query is to find others researching the same individual or family.

You want to encourage people to reply to your query. They are more likely to do so if:
1. The query is written clearly,
2. You've included some information about the family,
3. Your request is limited, AND
4. They recognize your family as related to people they have researched.

Always include some details about when and where your family lived.
These details should include:

Place -- The county name. If it is not specifically stated, the query may not be posted. Mentioning the city and the county is even better.

Name -- Give the name of the individual you are researching or the family name and one or two individuals in the family. Don't overload the query with too many names.

Dates -- Give specific dates if you know them. If you don't know exact dates, then estimate.

It is also a good idea to type each surname in all CAPITAL letters. This helps the reader who is scanning for familiar names, and will catch his or her attention if there is a connection.

The following are some examples of queries,
ranging from bad to Good to BETTER to the "BEST."

Here's BAD:

John Doe Fri Feb 31 09:30:00 2000
Can anyone tell me anything about the Smith family?

Well....at least it includes the family name. But in all other respects, this query won't hold anyone's interest.

Here's GOOD:

John Doe Fri Feb 31 09:30:00 2000
I'm seeking information about the John Smith family in Lamar County.

Now we're heading in the right direction, with a concrete name and the county location. Good!

Here's BETTER:

John Doe Fri Feb 31 09:30:00 2000
I'm seeking information on the John & Mary SMITH family who lived in Barnesville, Lamar County area from 1875 to 1910.

That's better. Listing both the husband and wife, the city and county where they lived and an approximate time period. The surname is in all CAPITAL letters making it easier for the reader.

Here's BEST (The kind of query you want to post):

John Doe Fri Feb 31 09:30:00 2000
I'm looking for information about my great grandfather, John SMITH and his wife Mary JONES SMITH. They lived near Barnesville, Lamar County, Georgia from approximately 1875 to 1910. He died in San Antonio, Texas in the late 1930s. Mary died a few years later. I'm interested in finding John's and Mary's parents.

Now you've given us enough clues that someone might recognize the family. And it's interesting to read. Limiting the query request will help in getting a response. Someone might have the information you need or be able to point you to the right resources for more information about your family.

USGenWeb queries are handled by volunteers. Please be patient. Allow sufficient time for your query to appear on the appropriate page(s). And when it needs updating or should be removed, inform the county coordinator.

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