Tuesday, April 13, 2021

How to Build a Family Tree with Little Information

 limited information family tree

Plenty of people want to learn more about their family history. After all, the prospect of learning more about your ancestors, especially if you already don’t know much, is very exciting. However, building a family tree with minimal information can also be difficult, simply because you don’t have much to go on.

When you don’t know your family, it can be difficult to even know where to start. But don’t just give up on your quest to learn more about your family. Instead, try the following tips to build your family tree.

Look at Your Own Records

If you don’t know much or anything about your family, it can be daunting to start building a family tree. However, looking at your own records can give you a starting point, especially if you have no contact with your parents.

Your birth certificate, for example, can give you a surprising amount of information. Usually, birth certificates contain the birthdates and birthplaces of both of your parents, and your mother’s maiden name. This can be a crucial part of unlocking the maternal part of your family tree.

If you don’t already have a copy of your birth certificate, get it. To do so, you’ll need to go online and check the requirements that your state has in place for getting a copy. There’s good news, however, as most states make it pretty easy to get a copy as long as you have identification and the ability to pay a small fee.

Look Around on Social Media

This method works much better if you have a rare last name. For example, if your last name is “Smith,” you’re less likely to be able to find other members of your family tree than if your last name is “Kaluzny,” one of the least common last names in the United States.

However, even if you do have a common last name, you may be able to narrow things down. Did your parents ever talk about being raised in a specific city? You may be able to look for people with that last name who live in that city. Take all the hints you can. It may be a long shot, but sometimes it pays off.

A “six degrees of separation” tactic may also work well when it comes to social media. If you’ve known someone for a very long time, try looking through his or her friends list. If the person is friends with anyone you remember from your childhood, try looking through that person’s friend list as well. You very well may end up running into the right link by pure chance.

Use a People Search Engine

With a people search engine, all you have to do is look up one of the family members you do know. Or, you can even start by searching yourself. Perform a public records search, and then see what turns up under “relatives.” You may be amazed to see relatives you didn’t even know existed! Then, you can look up those relatives to get more information about your family.

Before online searches became available, you may have been able to find this information by requesting public records from different governmental agencies. But it’s incredibly time-consuming and can be expensive. Having this kind of information now available online makes the family tree-building process so much quicker and easier.


When it comes to building a family tree, the prospect of looking up all the information can be daunting. After all, you have to determine information all on your own. And you may have to do that by gleaning small amounts of info from social media or from your own public records.

But by using all the search tools available at your disposal, you don’t necessarily have to be worried about finding information and building out your family tree. All the hard work may have already been done for you.

For more information on genealogy research and other related topics, be sure to read the PeopleFinders Blog.

Image attribution: pattilabelle – stock.adobe.com

PeopleFinders.com was launched in 1999 to give people easy access to public records data. The PeopleFinders mission is to find, organize and make information accessible - empowering people with meaningful answers.

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