The Genealogy Query Database

How to Write a Query

There are four pieces to an effective query:

  • Query Message
  • Surname(s)
  • Region(s)
  • Contact Info

Query Message: Describe what it is that you need help on in detail. If you are having difficulty researching a specific ancestor, then explain your problem, identify the ancestor's name, their dates and places of birth, death, marriage, name of spouse, names of children. Explain where your ancestor lived, died, worked, or traveled. Remember that you are trying to contact someone who may know something about your ancestor, therefore, try to give as much information as possible. Whatever it is you need help with, give lots of details and be specific.

Note: if you do not want your contact info (name, e-mail, phone, address, etc.) to be visible to the public, do not enter it into the Query Message. Anything you enter into the Query Message will be displayed to the public. Your e-mail address should be entered into the E-mail Field, which will be kept hidden.

Surname(s): CousinConnect allows you to specify up to five surnames for each query. Try to use all five fields. Specify the surname of the family line you are researching, or the individual you are trying to find. Other people who browse CousinConnect, are most likely going to search for their surnames. So, make sure to specify as many surnames as you can.

If your query has more than five surnames, you can separate them into multiple queries. If you find that your query requires more than 5 surnames, you might want to think about rewriting your query so that it is more specific.

Note: enter surnames only, and enter only one surname per field. Otherwise, the surname search feature will not be able to find your query.

Region(s): Each query can be associated with multiple geographic regions. If the specific family line you are researching was living in Bath County, Kentucky, and then later moved to Elk County, Kansas, you can specify both regions with your query. It's important to specify a region, because common surnames (Smith, Johnson, Jones, etc.) will have so many instances, that genealogists will want to filter their searches by region. If you don't specify a region, your query could become lost in a "sea of Joneses".

Note: Select only the regions that you know for certain your query is pertinent to. For example, if you are searching for an ancestor in Scotland, but you don't know which county that ancestor came from, then select only "Scotland". DO NOT SELECT EVERY COUNTY.

Contact Info: At CousinConnect, the only way other people will be able to contact you is via e-mail. Be sure to provide an e-mail address that works, and one that you will have regular access to.

Additional Reference

The following articles written by genealogy experts can give you some extra help: