My mother lost touch with her cousins many years ago and I would have been about 5 years old the last time I seen them. I am 30 now.

I am doing family research and trying to build the family tree. My mother is quite a bit younger than her cousins so she doesn't remember much.

I found a few of them on Facebook but the others don't use Facebook. Some are not really interested much in my research and are not providing much info about my great-grandparents but they might not remember either. It's a long shot but I'd like to ask them about the family history.

I looked up their name in the phone book and I think I may have found them but I have no way of verifying the info from the phone book because some of the cousins are estranged from each other due to family issues.

I want to write a letter to the address in the phone book (essentially cold-calling/mailing) and see if it's my relative. I don't want to reveal too much in case it is not my mother's cousin after all.

Some of them would be 60+ so I'm not sure if they use email or not. Here's what I've thought of, but I'm not sure if this is a good way to do it, or if I should explain more.


Are you ABC & EFG's son? I am so-and-so, your cousin HIG's daughter.

If you are the right one could you please email me back at: [email protected]?



How can I ask some long lost relatives if they indeed are family members without revealing too much information about us?

  • 1
    Hi user1261710. I've edited your OP in order to remove some off-topic part, and, hopefully, phrase your main concern so it becomes a question we can help you with (more on topic). Please let us know if it's good for you, and feel free to edit/rollback yourself. Thanks.
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


I think the general idea of your letter is perfectly fine, though I would modify it slightly to be a little more formal and add some more info. I recommend more formal, because letters in general tend to be more formally written, and you are addressing a stranger who is from an older generation. I also recommend mentioning the reason you are contacting them so that they aren't worrying trying to figure out why a distant relative is reaching out. You don't have to go into detail; just saying that you are trying to research the family history is enough to be helpful without revealing anything private.


My name is so-and-so. I am trying to do some research on my family history, and I believe you are my mother, HIJ's, cousin. Are you the son of ABC & EFG? If so, I would be interested in talking with you to try and learn more about my family history. Could you please let me know if you'd be willing to talk or not, or if I have the wrong person? You can email me at [email protected], or if you prefer, call or text me at 555-555-555.

Regards, so-and-so

  • 1
    +1 for asking for a reply even if its the wrong person. Instead of waiting forever, you might know quickly to keep searching, or stop persuing that person
    – Martijn
    Commented Mar 12 at 12:59

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