01 July 2013

Finding Living Relatives Can Be Challenging and Hopefully These Tips and Ideas Will Help You Be Successful!

Source: Flickr, jamesduval2
Used via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0  

Though our family history research is often focused on researching those who are long dead, as we embrace autosomal DNA testing, seek modern cousins to collaborate with on our family tree, (as adoptees) try to find biological parents or relatives, etc, we find ourselves needing to do more “modern” research.

Sometimes finding “living” people can be as hard if not harder than finding those long dead ancestors.  With privacy laws, modern records not being a focus of digitization projects, mobility, the shift to cell phones (vs land-lines) and other obstacles, we can be quite challenged when trying to track a living person.

For a project a couple of years ago, I was able to find the sale of some land from the previous year and yet could not locate these individuals.  They had moved to NYC and the address given on the NC paperwork was not “correct,” the forward on their mail had expired, no land-line phone number could be found and they did not “own” property in their new home town!  Incredibly frustrating to be “this” close to a living cousin for my client and get stuck!

To help you find living people, here are a few posts that will hopefully help you make contact:

Do you have other suggestions for tracking down living people?

What has worked “best” for you when seeking a living “cousin?”

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  1. Obituaries are also a great resource!

  2. I generally use a combination of resources - whatever works. One of the characteristics I look for in the databases I use is the ability to link the name, names of related persons, and residences. A site I often use is usa-people-search.com . Also helpful are sites like classmates.com which may include maiden or spouse's names.
    Obituaries are great if they have enough detail, but sadly, the principal person is no longer available to contact. Too often, a death notice is all that is available.