There are numerous reasons to research your family history. You may want to create an in-depth family tree, or you may just want to learn more about your ancestry and find out if you’re related to anyone famous. Whatever your reasons are, we’re here to help with our genealogy guide.
How do I find out who I’m related to?
You’ll need to use historical records and family knowledge to trace your back your lineage.
You can start by interviewing older relatives. They’re usually more than happy to share what they know about deceased family members and ancestors, and they may even have copies of old records that you can use to learn more.
With this information, you can put together a list of relatives’ names and important dates, as far back as you can go. This will help you research further back into your family history and uncover more ancestors.
You may also find it helpful to scan or photograph records and historical family documents, so that they are easier to organize and refer back to. Vital records, old newspaper articles, and photographs are just types of records that can assist you with your research into your family’s past.
How can I find out if I’m related to anyone famous?
In order to find out if you are related to royalty or someone famous, you’ll not only have to uncover your own family history for several generations, you’ll also need to research as many side branches as possible.
The more research you do and the branches you develop, the more points you’ll uncover where an ancestral relationship to a famous or royal individual might be hiding.
In general, it can actually be easier to determine whether you are related to someone famous, because there is usually more easily accessible ancestral information on the families of well-known individuals.
How to research a famous ancestor
If you suspect that you are related to a famous individual or family, you’ll have to do some additional research to uncover the relationship. You’ll likely need to research both your own family history and theirs.
For genealogical information on famous individuals, some good resources are:
- Their biography – Many famous people, especially members of royal families, have published biographies. Researching the biography of a potential relative can help you uncover their ties to your own family history. Older biographies can often be found for free online.
- Old newspapers – You can use old newspapers, which can usually be viewed at the library, to find obituaries and marriages, and other references to well-known individuals.
- Vital records – Vital records can help you research the family histories of famous individuals or verify their relationship to your own family. If the state where the event occurred has open records, or the records are more than 75 years old, you can get death, marriage, divorce, and birth certificate copies very easily.
- Cemetery records – You can also check cemetery websites to view their records, as well as photographs and information on tombstones. This may provide you with more information or assist with your efforts to get death and birth certificate copies.
- Genealogical society publications – The family histories of many famous people are already available online. In addition, there are genealogical publications that can provide useful information on the genealogies of more well-known individuals.
Using DNA testing to find your ancestors
Whether you are simply tracing back your family history, trying to uncover unknown relatives, or attempting to verify an ancestral relationship to a famous individual, DNA tests may help you learn more.
Over the last few years, DNA research has become widely available. Users simply submit a saliva sample, mail the sample in, then sit back and wait for the system to match them with others who share part of their DNA.
While it doesn’t specifically let you know if you have any famous ancestors or relatives, it can be extremely helpful to uncover records of distant relations. The system will provide you with a list of other users that are related to you, even very distantly. You can communicate with these relatives and share family history and genealogical information. This can help you open up unexplored branches of your family tree, and help you uncover forgotten or unknown relatives, giving you more insight into your ancestry.
Even if they can only provide you with new names, this can still be helpful. Since, if you know the basic information about an ancestor, you request a copy of their birth certificate, or even their marriage, divorce, or death certificate. These vital records can help you learn even more information about distant and deceased family members.
There are numerous online databases and other resources to help you make the most of DNA research when establishing your family history.
If you do not want to use DNA testing, there are also websites that provide access to genealogical data and family trees and can help you determine whether or not you are related to a famous individual.
Some online genealogy databases that you may find helpful are:
- BYU Family History Technology Lab
- Public records (can usually be accessed for free)
The internet has made genealogical research so much simpler, since so many records and databases are now available online, and it’s simple to connect with distant relatives and share information. Hopefully these tips and resources will help you with your search to uncover your family history.