22 May 2014

NGS 2014 Family History Conference – Session T242 – Finding Relatives Like a Private Eye


Another in the series on sessions I attended at the NGS 2014 Family History Conference.

T242 (R) Finding Relatives Like a Private Eye, Lisa Louise Cooke, Syllabus page 219

A key element of doing this is recognizing that “Unless a person is actively making an effort not to be found, they leave a paper trail!”

I could identify with what she called Principle #4: Few People are Free from Bureaucracy.  There was someone I was tracking who didn’t want to be found (absconded with church money, abandoned his family, was a bigamist, etc) and it was his desire to receive a pension for national guard service that ultimately unraveled his death (and life) – read more about how I discovered much about this person’s life and death in Looking For A Man Who Didn’t Want to Be Found!

And Tip #8: Check Campaign Contributions was not on my radar at all.  I had never heard of Open Secrets and its Donor Lookup service. On this site, you can check contributions back to 1990.  This site was fascinating.  I had no idea that such information was public.  Another site mentioned was CQ Moneyline donor search which goes back to 1980 (only showing donations for each 4 year election cycle).


Based on my own experience, I will say that with people increasingly using cell phones (versus land lines) and being fairly mobile in where they live it seems like it has become harder to track living people than it once was.  Whether it’s cousins to share notes with or individuals you would like to ask to participate in a DNA study, finding the living sometimes takes priority over documenting the dead.  I now have a few new resources to consider and tactics to employ.  Hopefully some of these living individuals will not be as elusive as they once were based on using Lisa Louise Cooke’s suggestions!

The associated syllabus pages provide an overview of the 8 research tactics suggested by Lisa Louise along with many internet references for where you might search.



Editor’s Note: This series is not presented in any particular order.



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