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Locating Living Relatives

Living relatives can be helpful to a genealogist in several ways. They may be able to answer questions, give information previously unknown, provide old family photographs, and more. Some genealogists also enjoy the opportunity of connecting with long-lost relatives in order to establish new relationships. There are a few different ways to go about looking got living relatives.

City Directories

City directories are located in the library’s reference section. In early editions of these directories, residents were listed alphabetically, making it easier to find a particular person. However, most new editions list individuals by street and phone number. Libraries are often willing to search a city directory for individuals, sometimes for a small fee. When writing a request to the library, be sure to include a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE).

Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor can be written when looking for a living person in the area in which the newspaper is circulated. This method works best in small towns, as larger towns or cities often receive more letters to the Editor than they can publish. When writing a letter, keep it brief while clearly stating the information that you are looking for. Don’t forget to include your name an address in the letter.

Family Association

Family Associations are sometimes established for families, and sometimes allow anyone with a certain surname to join. Family associations may be found listed in Everton’s Genealogical Helper, which is published annually, or online at sites, such as Cyndislist.com. It is worthwhile joining an association for purposes of genealogical research, as well as connecting with living relatives.

Message Boards

The Internet is full of message boards dedicated to genealogists. Search these boards for people who are researching a common ancestor. It is also worthwhile to start a thread requesting that others contact you. For safety purposes, it is not recommended that you leave an address or phone number with your post; however, you should include an email address where you can be reached.

Social Networking Sites

Many genealogists fail to see the value in using social networking sites, such as Facebook.com, for genealogical purposes. However, these sites allow you to search for people, and you may be able to locate a long lost relative. They are also a great way for connecting with other genealogists. A relatively newer social networking site, GenealogyWise.com, is dedicated solely for genealogists.