Saturday, June 13, 2015

Society Saturday : How to Write (or Not Write) a Query!

Editor's note: Today's post was co-written by Sandra Gardner-Benward and Glenda Lloyd Gardner ; originally published  in the  first Root Cellar SGS website many moons ago. 

How to Write (Or Not Write) a Query!  Queries are an important part of genealogical research. How you write your query often depends on its success. 

But First What in the World is a  Query?

Queries are published in newspapers, newsletters, journals, magazines, some email mailing lists and genealogical publications.......  ex: Root Cellar SGS Preserves (these are past issues for the public) It could be considered similar to classified ads. It is a short paragraph (1-3 sentences) asking for specific details about an individual or family, with as complete as possible a specific question or 'query' about that individual or family. 

If you are lucky enough to place your query into a genealogy society's publication and one that goes to Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center you will also have continuing exposure. They enter the queries (and other items) into PERSI. (Sorry, PERSI is a total topic all on its own and left for another time) ........ updating myself:  Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center has partnered with FindMyPast. FMP hopes to revolutionize the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI). HOORAY!! 

I know when I visiting the Allen County Public Library several years ago and going through some searches on their computer system, several items it came up that were included in a couple of publications of Root Cellar SGS Preserves.  Now that was exciting to be so far away from home and have some sources point right back to home and our Preserves. So how many other publications from around the world have been published in PERSI?

How to Write (Or Not Write) a Query!
Here are a few tips on writing a better query. 

1. Use a name, a date, and a place in every query.

          EX: Seek all info on Joseph GARDNER, living in Green Co., PA 1815-1855

2. Put the surname in all caps

3. Start your query with what you want to know: 
    Need parents of ........
    Need birth date and birthplace of ........
    Searching for the maiden name of .........
    Need death and burial information on..........
    Looking for information on.......

     EX: Need date and place of birth of Henry GARDNER, son of Andrew GARDNER and Hope ROBINS/ROBBINS. Andrew GARDNER names sons Henry and James and daughter Elinor in his will probated 1749 in Salem Co., NJ

     EX: Searching for the maiden name of Eliza (  ) BROWNRIGG, born: 6 October 1824/ England, died: 13 February 1901 Dryden, Tompkins, New York,  USA; married to Wilson BROWNRIGG between 1851-1860/ England

     EX: Need parents of George A DIETZ,  born: 28 June 1837 in Bavaria, Germany;  died 7 May 1907 in Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania.  Buried in St Pauls Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Married Caroline/Karoline NOEL (B: 1844 Hesse-Darmstadt D: 1928 Pittsburgh Pennsylvania) before 1864 Germany before coming to the United States.

4. Use circa (ca) or about if you don't know the exact date.

5. Limit each query to one family, plus related names. Several short, specific queries are preferred over one long, involved inquiry.

6. When writing an electronic query, put the surname in all caps in the subject line and include the date and place.

7. Do Not use the shotgun approach!

        EX: Researching GRIMES, ZILE, WARFIELD, CLARKE, SMITH, COCHRAN and CRAWFORD. Any assistance appreciated.

8. Sign your name to your query. Many people object to responding to a 'handle'

9. Be courteous and offer to share

10. Type or print your queries if possible to eliminate reading errors. 


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