How To Track Down Lost Family Members    

The first step in tracking down lost family members involves contacting people who were last in touch with them. They might have some helpful new details to share, like an event, a name, or a date. You can follow up on this by doing additional research and maybe even get to important documents you’ve never seen before. 

People finders are a great place to start looking. If you know how to use them, they can be very useful. You need to know your exact relationship with the person. Names of other family members will help too. 

How To Search

If they are only one generation away from you, they won’t be hard to find, thanks to modern records and data. However, extended family members merit deeper research. Search for their name and their last known location (city or state). If applicable, try a variation of their name. You need a first and last name as a bare minimum.  

People search sites can show family lines you never knew about. Background check sites will help as long as you enter sufficient details, including a full name and date of birth.   

Online Genealogy Services 

You can find a lost relative using an online genealogy service. Some people have learned about a family member they didn’t know. You can undergo DNA testing to confirm online database findings. A DNA test, also provided by these services, can reunite children with their parents, so you can find your birth parents this way.  

Harness The Power Of The Internet

The internet is full of information that you can use to get further in your search. You can get information from electoral rolls, census records, and newspaper archives. Archives are a good starting point, especially local newspapers, because they reflect crucial events in people’s lives. 

You can browse past editions of many local print media sources online now. You might find the family member you’re trying to track down got a job in the local government, an athletic achievement, or another fact that can yield information. 

Social Media 

Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media can help you track down family members based on their name, address, place of birth, workplace, or current location. You can also find them through friends or other family members. Look for alumni groups on social media if you know where they went to school. Check for data about graduates on their high school or college site. 

Try The National Archives

The National Archives contain census records, records of naturalization, land transfer, and military records, among others. Most of them can be accessed online. You could find something relevant to the person you’re trying to track down. 

The library

Local libraries are still a useful resource, albeit a frequently overlooked one. It also won’t cost you any money or a very small fee to search. Most community libraries provide free access to online genealogy sites. 

Employment Records

Try contacting someone at their last place of employment if you have an idea where it was. While most companies won’t provide personal details about current or previous employees to strangers, it’s worth a shot. You need as much information as possible about your family member. Anything could help, including professional experience, interests, etc.  

If your closest family members don’t have enough information, talk to members of your extended family. They might have been closer to your search target. Write down everything you learn about them and keep it in one place. Your family members might have diaries, letters, photo albums, birth certificates, scrapbooks, immigration records, etc. Even a seemingly irrelevant letter can turn out to be a useful source of information.   

Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett has an M.A in health and fitness, is an experienced trainer, and enjoys teaching children about healthy eating habits. She loves to cook nutritious meals for her family.


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