Whatever your reasons for wanting to know how to find family members – whether you’re building your family tree or searching for a specific relative – there are several ways to find them.
The good news is that this is now easier and more possible than ever before thanks to the internet.
First thing’s first, it’s best to try and talk to any other family members who can help. Do they have any information or details that can make your search easier?
The more information you can find out about that family member, the easier it’ll be to track them down.
If you’ve got the full name and the hometown of the person, you can scour social media to see if they have any online profiles. This would be the easiest way to connect with a potential family member.
You’ll also want to check public records.
This could involve visiting the person’s hometown, or the town where you suspect the family member lives. Here you can check available public records such as marriage, birth, and death certificates, or even newspaper articles and announcements.
You can also visit the local public library, or ask around at the local courthouse for a publicly-accessible archive.
Throughout the process, it’s a good idea to keep notes on everything you find out.
Keep a record of everything that you learn – not only the facts but the rumors too!
You should also take note of phone numbers and addresses, as well as any contacts who might be able to help you further. Identify the information you’re missing and piece together the information you do have – treat it like an investigation.
You can also mark out any known locations where the relative resided on a map, this might help you visualize their journey and understand the steps they took, which could ultimately help you guess where they might have gone next.
If you do manage to find out any contact details of the family member you’re looking for, you can try calling or emailing them, or even sending a letter to the address to confirm whether they still reside there. You could also go in person.
If you make a phone call, it’s important not to be pushy or make assumptions. You can ask if the person is there, rather than assume that it is them speaking. That way you can explain why you are looking for them.
Even if the person isn’t living there, they may be able to help you out with where to look next.
How to Find a Lost Relative
If you’re really struggling to make any progress with your search, you could consider hiring a private investigator, in particular, one who specializes in finding lost family members.
They will have more resources to carry out thorough research, but any information you managed to find out in your own investigation will also be useful to them.
You can also use the internet to search for your lost relative. You can consider using people-search web services such as Ancestry.com at your own discretion. You may be able to find out names, addresses, and ages, as well as marriage, employment, and legal records. If you know of a phone number that’s connected to the potential relative, you can also run a reverse phone number search on it.
Some of these sites are free, whereas others will charge, so compare the pros and cons of each before settling on a site that will suit your needs. There are some advantages to going with sites such as Ancestry, as they often have access to a greater range of records than the free sites.
You can also map out your family tree, which is a great way of filling in any gaps.
Most people start with living relatives and work their way back.
You can ask your relatives in person for as many details as possible: full names, maiden names, date of birth, date of death, date of marriage, date of divorce, names of children, and places they lived previously. You can also delve into photo albums and family records or letters to add context to your search.
Asking living relatives to identify people in old photographs can also be useful when it comes to piecing together your family tree.
Genealogy websites such as Ancestry.com and FindAGrave.com are not only good for looking up family records but are also ideal for organizing all of the information you find out.
These sites have access to US census records, birth, marriage, and death certificates, as well as other family trees that may connect with your own.
Ancestral search sites usually allow you to search international repositories and databases, which can be useful If your ancestral family moved to the U.S. from another country, and can help you visualize the journey they took to get here.
However, one thing to bear in mind is that immigrants from similar backgrounds often settled in a particular neighborhood, so it’s easy to stumble across names that are very similar or exactly the same.
If you suspect that names have been misspelled or changed, this will affect your search results. In this instance, it’s best to get in touch with local municipalities to verify any information you’re unsure about.
Finally, if you need to translate records, or if you’re struggling to find more information, you may want to consider hiring a professional genealogist from an ancestral search website.
However, ensure you find a reputable genealogist who has been reviewed before you jump to this option.
Disclosing information such as your mother’s maiden name is risky as it’s often used as a security question for accessing your bank and other personal information.
Finding a family member can be a long and complicated process, however, the good news is that today it’s easier than ever before, thanks to the internet. And I know that you’re motivated to do it because family is important!
There are a wealth of resources available at your fingertips, from social media to free archival sites and family tree builders.
The most important thing to remember is to make notes of any details you acquire and to record everything you know so far – regardless of how irrelevant it seems – as it could prove very useful later on.