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Talk:How to Find Descendants in the United States

Since 2006, I have been doing extensive descendancy research for both my lines as well as my husband's line. My family has had many diligent genealogists working for generations, so for about 30 years, I concentrated most of my efforts doing virgin research for my husbands lines. However, as more family genealogies were made available on the Internet, I became increasingly aware of conflicting, undocumented, and incomplete submissions to various repositories. The family was also becoming more and more splintered and the rising generation was losing touch of their valuable heritage. Therefore, I decided to concentrate on descendancy research as a method of restoring and preserving our family heritage. My objectives were:

  1. Gather and document all descendants of our immigrant ancestors, including their spouses’ lines.
  2. Digitize and make available in various repositories all histories, stories, photos, family bulletins, records, and other artifacts in an array of formats to be preserved, easily researched, and shared with each other and the generations to come. Establish our own repository (family web site as well as a brick and mortar location).
  3. Establish effective and inclusive communication and collaboration capabilities with all of our global family members who are living.
  4. Reorganize families or establish connections with current related family organizations, coordinating our research and preservation efforts.
  5. Correct errors and complete pedigrees and family groups for all possible generations. Write well-documented histories or gather those that are already written for as many individual family members as possible.
  6. Help family members establish close and enduring relationships with their living relatives, and help them develop love, respect, and appreciation for their ancestors.

The intervining years have been increasingly miraculous and wonderful, as I have made connections with newly found relatives, both living and dead, and have shared their excitement and deep emotion as we embraced each other and learned of each other. We have communicated over the Internet, email, letters, telephone, and personal visits, but in every case, I have found that I love and appreciate them more—and the feeling is mutual.

Most of the methods described in this article were used in this project effectively and with great success. However, there are a few other ways and additional information I found helpful which I would like to share.

    • I created public family trees on, one in the name of my father and one in the name of my father-in-law. This allowed me to use the tools on their web site to search out documentation and information from other trees and Ancestry’s databases, and then attach them to each individual. I was also able to upload stories, photos, images of documents and transcriptions for the individuals. I can communicate with others who have trees. As I find new relatives, I can invite them as a guest, contributor, or editor to view and contribute to the trees for free. I was also able to use directory and public record searches to find some of the living relatives contact information and other data.
    • Find A is a free web site that allows you to create memorials for those who have died in online cemeteries, adding photos, bios, and even virtual flowers. You can create a contributor page with your own virtual cemeteries, with links to “friends” who have also contributed to the web site. Several relatives and I have found each other as we discover we are contributing or connecting the same family lines.
    • Obituaries and news articles can be found in newspapers and newspaper archives that are online, some of them are free and others require a subscription or fee. Current obituaries can be found online at most newspapers’ web site, but Legacy’s Obitfinder and have archived obituaries available online. Some funeral homes have online obituaries or memorials available. An example is Hoover-Boyer Funeral Homes in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. Some online repositories, such as or American Battle Monuments Commission include obituary or memorial listings. Utah Digital Newspapers is an example of historic newspapers being made available to search for obituaries or news items for your ancestors. Several Repositories include Historical Newspapers in their collections. Not only do newspaper articles and obituaries give the names, dates, and locations, but also they often give the story of the individuals and their relationships.
    •  Maps and location information as well as local histories add another layer of understanding your ancestors’ world and can help you understand patterns and relationships. Gazetteer contains rich information about the locations and has links for more information. Hometown Locator Gazetteer is also very helpful, not only to give information and maps, but also for completing location information. For instance, if the entry you find is Kirtland, OH, put that in the search box and learn that Kirtland is in Lake County. You can also view lists to find the correct spelling or additional location possibilities, etc.
    • Vital records indexes and images of the actual record or certificates are starting to be made available from several states: Arizona and Utah are two. See the additional links under Vital Records on this wiki website. Some states, such as California, include birth records of living individuals in their online indexes. California also lists the maiden name of the mother, although it may be truncated.
    • More and more web sites, both subscription and free, have more and more database collections available online, besides those mentioned above, here are a few I have found helpful in my descendancy research:,, Early LDS Pioneers, BYUI Special Collections and Family History.

Brand new Family Search tools were made available to me in the last month or so and have accelerated my research tremendously. However, as we merge records and correct errors, it feels like I am wrestling with a 900-pound gorilla. It is a good thing my brother used to have me as his sparring partner when we were teenagers so I know a few tricks. It is worth it though because I have been finding more relatives who will join me in the fight.  And this fight has a lot more important and lasting results than pinning this big gorilla. 

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The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.

LDS references

Please see the page on Wiki Guidelines and Policies.  This is a very valuable page with so much wonderful information, but the references to LDS ordinances should be deleted to keep it within the scope of the Wiki and its neutrality policy.  There might also be sections that need to be updated, with the changes to Lynda 22:51, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

This is a good "How To" article that could be used as Featured Article on the main page of the Wiki.  However there are several links that don't work and need to be corrected.

In the section: Related Content, it appears that the 3 videos on Descendancy Research are not available at the FHL, but have been replaced by one video: Descendancy Research (40 minutes online video).  This change has been made within this section.  The link to Perform Descendancy Research.. doesn't link to a site in the FHL.

Also the link in the Sources: ↑ Sam Lower, "Picking the Low-Hanging Fruit," Ensign, April 2007, 46. On the Internet with the article by George D. Durrant, "Branching Out on Your Family Tree," Ensign, April 2007, 44-47, doesn't work. 

Please correct these links so that we can use this article in the future as a Featured Article on the Wiki.


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