You Deserve

What You Don't Get

written September 6, 2009

From the very first day that I began researching, the amount of data I compiled was in a large part dependent on other people and their willingness to share. That is what makes researching so great is that it relies so much on the bartering system- with everyone helping each other. Yes, it can cost some money to research, but it doesn't always have to.

When the ability to trade information is exhausted, the next avenue of gleaning data moves to the generousity of other persons who either reside in areas that you don't or people who own reference books that you don't have or have access to. Basically, volunteers who are willing to take the time to either look up items in the books for you or travel to perhaps a cemetery and take a photo for you. In either case, these people are VOLUNTEERS. This means that they don't get paid and they don't necessarily HAVE to perform this service. For these reasons, these are persons who are invaluable to the researcher and should be handled with care.

By this I mean that they should be handled with just a bit more common courtesy then the average person- I am sure however, that given their disposition to share/give; they would settle for simply the barest of common courtesy. For those of you who do not understand exactly what that means -- say THANK YOU to them. And yes, this means WHETHER THEY FIND YOUR DATA OR NOT.

This doesn't mean that when you request the information you say "thank you for your time". This means that after they have looked and notified you of the findings or lack of- you email them and say either "Thank you so much" or "Thank you so much for looking".

WAKE UP PEOPLE-- we are living in the age of the computer. You don't need to use/buy a stamp, just spend less then a couple of minutes on the computer and say thank you. I guarantee it will take much less time then many of these volunteers do in looking up this information.

Many of these volunteers have access to vast amounts of other reference material that they also consult when looking something up. Many of them, including myself will go beyond the call of duty and give much more then is asked for. I always try to and I normally get this kindness in return. At the very least, the other reference materials owned by them "may" be the item you are searching for in the future. Being rude or inconsiderate is the one sure way to guarantee that you won't get anything else you ask for...AND YOU WILL DESERVE JUST THAT.

Speaking from personal experience, each time I have someone who doesn't acknowledge the receipt of the material; it makes me very reluctant to continuing offering my volunteer services to ANYONE in the future. Notice I didn't say "thank" me, I said simply "acknowledge".

Very recently (this past week) a person emailed me asking for a lookup on a Will as it pertained to the existence of one. I not only let her know that there was one, I looked on my disk and sent her the image of the Will itself. This I did in order to prevent her from having to contact the archives, pay the money and wait for the Will. She didn't ask for that, she was only asking if one was available. Not only did I do that, I did it in a timley fashion- there were 18 minutes that passed between her request and my response. That was on Monday, August 31. I have heard not one word from this person. Not "thanks" not "kiss my foot" not "got it but wrong person". NOTHING.

It made me briefly want to stop replying to requests, but I decided instead to write this article about it. It would be my own suggestion for all those volunteers who give of themselves to follow my plan for the future-- although this step should NEVER have to be take.

I am going to start keeping a list. A list of persons who request items but never reply in anyway afterwards. That list will be checked against future requests and there won't be any answer to those requests. I may indeed relent and give an answer to them- but the answer will only be to inform them that due to their lack of gratitude or acknowledgement of previous lookups, I decline to honor their current request.

In my opinion, they will be getting just what they deserve.