Every family is a different size. Some nuclear families stick to themselves, only three or four people large, and some families associate with relatives that are so far removed that they’re barely even related anymore! Either way, most people have a fascination with knowing where their family came from, and where they are right now. That’s why the family tree started — to track a family through the ages.
Nowadays, finding your extended family can seem more difficult because of how much easier travel is, and the way people move more frequently. However, the Internet has made it easier to find people, and easier to find information on your family members even if you can’t find them in person. Here’s an easy plan to track down the information you need online.
Write Down Everything
You have some information about your family tree right now. Even if that information is just that you have two siblings and two parents, you need to get that written down. You also need to decide what information you’re looking for, and how many generations back you’re trying to go. You need to know what issues you may run into, and what issues you know you’re going to have — for example, if one of your family members has closed themselves off from the rest of the family, it might be impossible to go any further than that.
Try using an online family tree builder, like Family Echo, to visualize the information you have and the information you’re looking for. If you have a basic idea of where you are and where you’d like to be at the closing of this project, it’ll be substantially easier to actually follow through. For maximum momentum, print it out, hang it up in a highly visible place, and fill out the little boxes as you find information!
Ask Your Family Members
Whether you have a pretty small family or a family that’s big enough to form its own country, it’s more than likely that they have some knowledge of where everyone came from. Even if it’s just some basic knowledge of their grandparents, it’s a great starting point. Gather as much information as you can, and keep note of it all. Anyone’s full names, places of birth, partners or ex-partners, jobs, anything that could have a bearing on where they ended up is helpful.
Don’t just go around your family, ask for this information, and then leave. This is a great bonding opportunity! Spend some time with your family members, and ask for the stories behind the family you haven’t met before. After all, you’re connected to them — that’s why you want to learn more about them. If you want to feel even more connected to them, you need to learn about who they really were, not where they were born and who they married. It can be more fulfilling to hear a funny story about them from their daughter than to know every single piece of information on paper.
Use Names and Places to Build a Picture
It’s a well-known fact that the Internet never forgets. Obviously, that can be a good or a bad thing, but if you’re looking for an extensive list of family members, that means the Internet has you covered for at least a good portion of them. Your best bet will always be first or secondhand knowledge, but when you’ve exhausted everyone you know and everyone they know, there’s still more information out there.
Public records searches can be your best bet in building the biggest picture of your family possible. They can find information based on a full name, city, and state, and that information often includes things like partners, ex-partners, and children. If you’re looking for a public records search engine that’s fast, cost-effective, and efficient, look no further than PeopleFinders, which has options for one-time results as well as a subscription-based service to find you information for pennies a click.
Family trees have been a source of great interest for years and years. Everyone has one, whether they’ve spent time writing it down or not, and it’s only natural to wonder where you came from, and how far back you can trace that. In this modern era, it’s not impossible to track your family; that’s widely known. Confucius, the revered philosopher, has over two million living descendants today, and his family tree is regarded as one of the world’s longest. Modern technology allowed a genealogy committee to find those descendants and compile them together — and it will allow you to do the same thing. Don’t waste your time wondering where you came from. With a little bit of work, you can be sure.