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A question of etiquette

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#1
I've been trying to trace one of my aunts, and found a record of her marriage in the late 1950s. Through various searches on Google I found her husband and his second wife, and on the BT website their address and phone number.

I'm not sure if my aunt is still alive (she'd be in her early 80s, so perfectly possible) but she may have been divorced, and her husband remarried. Her husband is definitely still alive, and in his mid-70s.

The question of etiquette is whether I should write to him at his home address? If I had his email, I would find no problem in contacting him, but somehow snail-mail seems more personal, though I don't know why. I'd really like to find out about my aunt for all sorts of family-related reasons, but I don't want to open up any old wounds.

What would you do?
 
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gwenythgreen

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#2
I've been trying to trace one of my aunts, and found a record of her marriage in the late 1950s. Through various searches on Google I found her husband and his second wife, and on the BT website their address and phone number.

I'm not sure if my aunt is still alive (she'd be in her early 80s, so perfectly possible) but she may have been divorced, and her husband remarried. Her husband is definitely still alive, and in his mid-70s.

The question of etiquette is whether I should write to him at his home address? If I had his email, I would find no problem in contacting him, but somehow snail-mail seems more personal, though I don't know why. I'd really like to find out about my aunt for all sorts of family-related reasons, but I don't want to open up any old wounds.

What would you do?
Hi Martyn

I was faced with a similar dilema recently re my half brother who I had not seen for 50 years when I was 2, there was a family disagrement so he and my father fell out, I found out where my half brother is now living. (my father died in 1990) and decided I would like to meet him, after discusing how I would do yjos with friends on here and my husband I decided to phone him and after some long discusions am planning to meet him later this year.

I decided that a phone call was best as iy gave us both chance to ask questions and explain personal things on an informal way,

Hope things work out for you.

Gwen :)
 

p.risboy

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#3
I've been trying to trace one of my aunts, and found a record of her marriage in the late 1950s. Through various searches on Google I found her husband and his second wife, and on the BT website their address and phone number.

I'm not sure if my aunt is still alive (she'd be in her early 80s, so perfectly possible) but she may have been divorced, and her husband remarried. Her husband is definitely still alive, and in his mid-70s.

The question of etiquette is whether I should write to him at his home address? If I had his email, I would find no problem in contacting him, but somehow snail-mail seems more personal, though I don't know why. I'd really like to find out about my aunt for all sorts of family-related reasons, but I don't want to open up any old wounds.

What would you do?
Hi Martyn,
Have you adopted the same approach to finding your Aunt as you did to find her ex-husband.
He is your Uncle I assume. If you have never spoken to him at all, I would write a letter and take it from there. No need to ask questions from the get go, just to say hi. Ease into it gently and see how fragile he is or isn't.
Snail mail in this instance, I would say is the answer.
At the end of the day, put yourself in his position.

Steve.:)
 
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JMR

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#5
Hi Martyn,

I would suggest snail-mail too. Include your phone number as well and then they can pick up the phone straight away and speak to you if they would like to.

My Granddaughter (age 10) decided to track her father's, Mother and Grandparents earlier this year, there's so much dysfunction in that family, which goes back decades. Her Gt Grandparents didn't even know she was born and her Grandmother read about her birth in the paper, but had never seen her. She helps me with my family history research and she was very conscious of how time slips by and people pass on. She wanted a photo of herself with them all for prosterity. She tracked down one Gt Grandfather through the phone book and was given addresses for a couple of other family members who helped her find the people she wanted. We sent Christmas cards, which she wrote in and before I posted them for her I wrote on the back "pls call B on XXXXX". Two days later she'd had calls from every one of them.

She finally met her Gt Grandmother this weekend after travelling to NSW to meet her. It took a little girl to reunite a sick old lady with her son and grandson, and she came back with a 4 generation photo of her father's family. I'm so proud of her, but the lesson in all of this is - people usually embrace contact from those connected to them, it's often our own hang-ups that make us hesitate.

Which ever way you make contact will be fine - the important thing is to just do it!!!

Cheers,
Jll
 
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#6
Thanks all for the kind and thoughtful replies.

@gwenythgreen: the difficulty here is that I did not even know of the existence of this man until a couple of weeks ago. I've never met him and am not related to him, so I'm completely unsure about his reaction. I'm worried that a phone call out of the blue might upset him (especially if there were issues about the marriage to my aunt).

@Steve: I think putting myself in his place is right. From what the online reference to him said, I don't think he's frail (I found him through one of the activities in which he's involved) but as mentioned to Gwen, I don't want to upset the man.

@Benny1962: the more I think about it, the more snailmail sounds best - he can always put a letter in the shredder!

@Jill: that's a lovely story. Kids see things much more straightforwardly than we do.

Thanks again to all.
 
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gwenythgreen

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#8
Thanks all for the kind and thoughtful replies.

@gwenythgreen: the difficulty here is that I did not even know of the existence of this man until a couple of weeks ago. I've never met him and am not related to him, so I'm completely unsure about his reaction. I'm worried that a phone call out of the blue might upset him (especially if there were issues about the marriage to my aunt).

@Steve: I think putting myself in his place is right. From what the online reference to him said, I don't think he's frail (I found him through one of the activities in which he's involved) but as mentioned to Gwen, I don't want to upset the man.

@Benny1962: the more I think about it, the more snailmail sounds best - he can always put a letter in the shredder!

@Jill: that's a lovely story. Kids see things much more straightforwardly than we do.

Thanks again to all.
Hi Martyn

Very best wishes with your first contact, make sure that you clearly explain who you are and your relationship to him.

Unfortunately at first my half brother did not remember me, until I explained that I was the daughter of his ex girlfriend, dads second wife, compliated!! but after explanations now things are progressing ok.

Very Best Wishes.

Gwen
 

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