Are We Cousins?


If you're reading this page, you either found my blog and you suspect that we are related, or I contacted you claiming that we are related and offered this link as a way for you to learn more.

If the first case is true, then I encourage you to read this page to see what kinds of information I've got and what I'm looking for; also be sure to check out the "My Sixteen" page if you're not sure where our common ancestry might be (the link on the right side of the page will be there if you wander off to read the stories).

If the second case is true, then I hope this page will explain why this stranger you've never heard of is trying to convince you that we're family!

What I Do

As you should already know, my name is Tad Callin, and I'm an amateur family historian, or genealogist. I am not a professional genealogist. When I describe my hobby to people, they usually have this reaction (you can click on the image to make it bigger):

for more comics like this visit "Geneapalooza" by Esto Frigus
Early on, I was given a copy of The Callin Family History, published by George Callin in 1911. I am working, along with some other cousins, on an updated and revised version of that book. We intend to self-publish the revision and make available for purchase to anyone interested in the Callin Family History. Right now, the family tree includes about 1,500 people who descended from a Revolutionary War veteran named James Callin (more about him here).

If you're interested in getting a printed copy of the original book, I have links in the "FAQ & Links" page.

How I Do What I Do

In the days before the Internet, people like me started their research with their immediate families: cousins and in-laws who they knew, or anyone living in their home town who could tell them about their roots. Once they had a few names, they would write to more distant relatives asking them for information about their immediate family, and so on. Some of the more organized family historians would use a Family Information Sheet with a form for gathering the basic details. Those basic details included:

  • names
  • dates of birth
  • marriages
  • names of spouses
  • spouse's birth dates
  • spouse's parents' names and birth dates
  • names and birth dates of children
  • any death dates

Let's face it - with serious modern privacy issues like identity theft, online stalking/bullying, or even simple spamming, how comfortable are you with the idea of a total stranger asking for all of that personal information?

Knowing how most people react to being contacted out of the blue with those kinds of questions, a modern researcher like myself will usually stick to online research only. There is quite a lot of information Out There in public that a family history researcher can use - but it feels a little creepy to tell people that you have never met that you found their name in an obituary and looked them up in the White Pages or on Facebook. Normally, I avoid doing that, but for our revised Callin Family History to be as complete as possible, I feel like I should be going that extra mile - and making sure that I respect people's privacy concerns.

That's where you - the cousins I have reached out to - come in.

What I Am Asking For

The Callin Family History was compiled and printed in 1911 by George W. Callin (my great-great grand uncle). My great-grandfather, John Q Callin, was the most recent of my direct ancestors listed in that book, and I used it as a guide to trace the descendants of his great-grandfather as I learned how to do genealogical research. You might call that book my "training wheels" - and I'd like to produce the most thorough, reliable, and complete revision I can for any future great-grandchildren I might have. With their permission, of course, I hope to include my parents, aunts & uncles, cousins, sister, and all of our children in the updates to the book.

But here is what I won't do:

  • I won't publish the names of any living person without their knowledge or permission.
  • I won't publish the personal information of any living person without their permission.
  • I won't publish any photographs of living people without the permission of the photographer and all of the people pictured.

In other words, I try to adhere to etiquette and standards laid out by organizations like the National Genealogical Society on their website.

As I said before, there is a lot of information that I have found in publicly available records, and in online resources (like obituaries) that I hope to be able to include in this book. But I realize that not everyone will be as excited about this project as I am. My hope would be that as we find living descendants of James Callin, they will help us fill in any blanks in our research, make sure we have our facts straight, and maybe even give us permission to include a family photo or two in their section of the book - but I will certainly understand if anyone is not comfortable with any of this for any reason.

Your Choice

My first priority in reaching out to you is respecting your privacy and safety. I wouldn't want anyone to put my name and my kids in a book without checking with me, so I won't do that to you or your kids. So, here's what I'm asking you to do:

  1. Let me show you what I've found in the public records about your family tree. 
  2. Ask me questions; we should discuss your expectations and mine.
  3. Read this blog to see what kinds of stories I want to tell in the book.
  4. Take some time to consider how you would like to be represented in a book like this.
  5. Let me know what you decide!

At the moment, there isn't a "due date" for getting an answer. I'll update this page and try to notify everyone involved when we're getting close to a publishing date.  (Or when I'm Moving the Goal Posts; self-publishing gives us a lot of leeway!) Even if you decide you don't want to be included, I do hope you'll take an interest in what we're doing, and stay in touch. And of course, if you have old family photos or correspondence that you don't mind sharing, we are always on the lookout for that kind of material.  (Whether that material would go into the book or not is a separate discussion.)

As always, if you have questions or comments, you can comment on the blog or send me an email. My address is callintad at gmail dot com. (You know to use "@" for "at" and "." for "dot", I hope!)

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