1:28pm. Time to Stalk the Mailman.

1:28pm. Time to Stalk the Mailman.

by Kerry Scott on 4 October 2010

I love this time of day.

My oldest kid is at school.  My youngest kid’s nap just started.  That means it’s time for me to check the mail.  Obsessively.  Every ten minutes.

See, genealogists still do stuff by snail mail.  Birth, marriage and death certificates all come in the mail (except in awesome states like Minnesota and Missouri, where you can get some records instantly online).  Your mail might be full of bills and stuff, but mine brings the promise of mysteries solved, six days a week.

And when I see that familiar self-addressed stamped envelope coming back to me…hooray!  It’s like Christmas morning.  What does the postmark say?  Which document is this?  Who’s in that envelope?  What will I find out?  Where will this new document take me?  I can hardly stand the suspense.

It’s one of my favorite things about genealogy.  I don’t even mind that my postal carrier thinks I’m a freak because all of my outgoing mail is addressed to places like “Springfield County Death Records.”  It’s worth it.

Photo by Leo Lau

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Tiner October 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Yes! I’m stalking my own mailbox waiting for my Dad’s Social Security record. It’s like being in a real mystery.


Greta Koehl October 4, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Oh, this brings back fond memories – of great, big, fat envelopes from state archives arriving in the mail. No wonder my mailman looks a bit hunchbacked.


Heather Wilkinson Rojo October 5, 2010 at 9:06 am

I live on a rural route. When I see the mailtruck go by it is time to get off the computer. I hike to the mail boxes (six boxes in one spot) and meet the neighbors. (mini neighborhood gossip committee meeting) They always want to know why I have so much mail!


Debi October 5, 2010 at 9:41 am

Oh boy am I with you on this! I get my mail at the little post office in town and I try really hard to not stop every day. But somedays it’s torture! Like you, I see that self-addressed envelope and immediately look at the postmark to see what clue might be waiting inside. But how sad when I open up the post office box (like yesterday) after a few days and all there is peeking out at me are campaign flyers. Don’t these people know I’m much more concerned with stuff that was happening 100 years ago then with the outcome of the election in a month? I know I should be a better citizen but death certificates are way more interesting than politicians. So what treasure did you get yesterday? What might come today?


Kerry Scott October 5, 2010 at 9:46 am

Yesterday I got a ton of stuff: a death certificate from Minnesota, a marriage certificate from Oregon, and a big heavy box filled with four volumes of the history of Verndale, Minnesota. It was a great haul!

Today I’m hoping for the SS-5 that I ordered 15 (FIFTEEN) weeks ago. Normally they take about four weeks, and I’ve left two voice mail messages, but whatever.


Debi October 5, 2010 at 5:52 pm

So did you get the SS-5? I need to look into that but not sure how much it will help me just yet.

My biggest surprise in the mail was the marriage certificate I was expecting for my parents and the county told me they had nothing on file! I thought my mother would totally freak out about it but she seemed pretty calm – figured the county wouldn’t have it since it was a religious ceremony. Okay, whatever Mom ;-)


Kerry Scott October 6, 2010 at 6:35 am

Not yet. SS-5s are generally very helpful though; this is the only one I’ve had a problem with.

I’m glad your mom wasn’t freaking out…some people definitely would have under those circumstances!


Becky October 7, 2010 at 9:45 pm


I wonder what your mail carrier thinks you do??


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