There’s a wide range of reasons why you’d want to find your family. Maybe you want to try and track down long lost family members? Or, you want to build out your family tree or family crest?
Whether you want to find family members, trace back your heritage, learn about your past, or fill out your family tree, finding family members and loved ones has never been easier with the help of the internet.
Thanks to public records and online family search tools it’s easier than ever to find your family. All you need is some basic information like their name and last known location.
However, even with little to no information there are a variety of ways you can track down family members, including using methods commonly employed by genealogists.
There are all sorts of reasons to try and track down a family member.
Here are some of the most common reasons to start using a family search and locator tool:
A family tree is a diagram of your family’s lineage. It can also act as a record of all of your relatives who are both living and deceased.
This type of document can be passed down generation to generation, to help family members keep track of their history.
If this is your first time building out the family tree, then you have a lot of work ahead of you. But, it’s something that you can get your family, relatives, and even close friends involved in.
Finding out about your family history can be fascinating. Learning about your ancestors and origins, who they were, where they lived, and what their lives were like can be fulfilling for you and your entire family.
Your search can begin with a single question, and old photograph, or the unpacking of boxes that have been tucked away in the attic.
The search to learn about your family history can extend beyond your family tree and into real-life stories. But it all begins with uncovering who your family and relatives are and were.
Do you have a family member you’ve fallen out of touch with? Or, how about a family member that you remember as a child, but haven’t heard from in decades? You could even be distant from one side of your family and want to research your mom or dad’s side.
You can use a find my family locator tool to tie this family member to their closest real-time location and even uncover their contact information.
Of course, the more information you have related to this family member the more fruitful your search will be, however, the information below can get you moving in the right direction.
If you were adopted, you might have the desire to find out more about your birth parents, and even birth siblings.
A lot of times you can find this information via your birth certificate, or public records request at your local courthouse. But, sometimes this information can still be difficult to track down.
By using a public records search tool you can simplify your search and locate your birth parents or siblings, even if you don’t have that much information.
Family crests and the family coat of arms are symbols that have traditionally been passed down for generations. They were most commonly used throughout the 11th through 17th centuries, but they can still be a meaningful connection to your family history and its legacy.
A coat of arms is a detailed design that has been used to identify families and individuals for centuries. It commonly includes a shield, helmet, crest, motto, and more.
Within the coat of arms, you’ll find your family crest, which is a smaller design often located towards the top of the coat of arms. These are often used in place of the coat of arms when displaying the whole image would be too complex.
Coat of arms and family crest come from European heritage, however, they can actually be pretty rare, as they were tied to nobility.
By uncovering your family tree and tracing back your ancestry you might find a family crest that’s linked to a relative, or your last name.
Using a family search tool can help you find a wide range of family members. Whether you’re trying to build out your family tree, or are simply looking for a distant family member that you’ve lost touch with, a family search tool can help.
For example, you’ll be able to find family members like:
By using a public record search tool you can find family member information and even locate family members you thought were gone forever.
The family search process will be different depending on your goals, who you’re trying to find, and the existing information you have about that person.
Below you’ll find some tips that’ll help you do research and collect relevant information and documents to find your family members.
If you’re looking to find a lost relative you’ll want to do a little research upfront. The more information you have the easier it’ll be to locate this family member.
Sometimes family members become distant for certain reasons and digging into the past and current family ties could make some family members uncomfortable.
During the research phase make sure it’s okay with other family members, check in with your close family members to not only uncover information that’ll make your search easier, but also to ensure you’re not digging into something that’s better kept a secret.
Once you’ve got the go-ahead you’ll want to start by getting as much information as possible from family members you’re still in touch with. The chances are good that some of your family members have information that can simplify your search.
Even if things aren’t written down your family members probably have stories, facts, and more locked away in their brains. You’ve probably been hearing stories about your family your entire life, but asking relatives about these stories again, equipped with a pen and paper, or even a recorder will help you extract useful details.
Here are some questions to ask:
You can even follow-up with your relatives after you’ve found some old documents or photos. Using these together can help you uncover new stories and relevant details.
Building a research file will help you direct your search. It’s a good idea to have a single folder where you’re storing any information you can find about your family member.
If your search is more recent, then you can even create a digital file that contains articles, links to social media profiles, photos, and more.
When you’re first beginning your search and speaking with family members there’s a good chance you’ll be able to uncover a ton of relevant information quickly. It’s important to record everything you find, so you can reference it throughout your search.
Sometimes you can find relevant family information hiding in plain sight. For example, boxes in the attic, “junk drawers” filled with odds and ends, tucked away in the basement, and more.
You can even do a United States National Archives search to see if your family members show up in any historical documents
There are all kinds of items that can be helpful in your family member search:
Another common way to find a family member is by getting in touch with their associates. When you don’t have a name, the task of finding a family member can feel like it’s impossible, but chances are, someone will be able to provide you with a name, you just have to get creative.
Online search tools can pull data from multiple sources and help you to find potential and past associates who you might be able to get in touch with.
There are all kinds of associates that can provide you with more relevant information about your relative, including:
In some cases, you can search for family members just by searching for your own name. Think of it as a reverse family tree, you start at the very beginning and work your way backward.
You’ll need to use an online tool to pull up your own background report and see if your search pulls up any potential relatives. If you have any information related to your close relatives you can run a search on them as well.
For example, maybe you have your cousin’s first and last name, but you’re trying to track down a distant second cousin.
Often, you’ll be surprised at what you can find.
Maybe you’ve heard stories about a great-grandmother who lived in Sweden? Or, great-great-grandparents who served in the war? You’ve heard stories and compelling facts about these people, but you don’t have a name.
Another common situation is when you’re an adopted child trying to track down your birth parents.
But, your search doesn’t have to end, just because you don’t have a name. With some basic information there’s a good chance you can track down a family member and eventually be able to uncover their name as well.
If you’re not adopted, or can’t track down their name via court or birth records, then explore some of the options below:
At the very least you should do your best to get creative and use all the tools at your disposal to try and find a name.
Today even a ton of older information has been digitized. We also have a wealth of modern tools that can help you link together family and friends.
For example, you can use social media tools like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to look up friends, followers, and pictures. On Facebook you can even search names and locations. This might not be useful all by itself, but when combined with information from other sources, it’ll be easier to track down your family members.
For those building out the family tree, you have unique methods such as DNA testing to help determine your deep ancestry. This will help you understand your migrant paths and help you better understand where you reside on the family tree.
You can even use an online tool like FamilySearch, which has been collecting and digitizing records for over a 100 years. This is filled with information like books, publications, microfilm, and more.
Doing a public records search can reveal a lot about a person. Here’s a quick look at just some of the information that a vital records search will turn up: