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How to Search for Relatives in Other Countries

by Irene Njongwa

Searching for a relative overseas may seem like a daunting task. But with the increasing availability of more public records information online, it is often possible to find relatives in other countries. The Internet provides a wealth of information from across the globe that could give clues on the whereabouts of your relative. According to their website, "FamilySearch manages the largest collection of genealogical collections in the world -- 2.5 million rolls of microfilm and millions of additional digital images from over 100 countries worldwide".

Locating a Relative Overseas

Do preliminary research on the relative you are looking for. Find out as much as you can about their names, dates of birth, and whether they got married or have children. Ask other relatives to give you information they have on the relative you are seeking. Older relatives may have more insight on the information you need.

Do a Google search with the relative's names to see if you come up with any information. Such searches may bring up vital records like birth and family lineage of people with that name. Other information you may find could include schools previously attended, social networking pages and places of work. Typing your surname or mother's maiden name into the search boxes on global social networking sites like Facebook can bring up some leads.

Take a free, short online course to help you understand how to search archives and databases for records. The National Genealogical Society, which has free membership, offers a free introductory course to its members. According to their website, a family history skills course will help you find information for ancestors who lived in earlier centuries as well as how to use online finding aids and library catalogs. Visit ngsgenealogy.org/cs/educational_courses/online_courses/family_history_skills.

Perform a Google search to find out about public records offices in the country in which you are seeking your relative. Contact public records offices to ask about retrieving information on the said relative. According to Ancestry.com, "immigration and emigration records can help you learn where your ancestors originally came from, where they went, when they left, who they traveled with, and more". These records will help you trace the lineage of your family and narrow down your search by giving you an idea of where your relatives could have settled abroad.

Contact the individual if you feel you have located a relative and explain who you are and why you are looking for them. Mention relatives you think they may know to help them make the connection and be open to communicating with or meeting you.

Items you will need
  • Name of the relative
  • Date of relative's birth
  • Names of relative's parents
  • Marriage details
  • Names of the relative's children

Tip

  • Old photos and personal journals handed down can provide vital information that will come in handy in your search. If you find information on social networking places, send a private message to the individual giving some background information and asking if they are the relative you are looking for.

Warning

  • Avoid giving away too much personal information until you are sure the person is who they say they are. Consider creating a different email address to make your inquiries and contacts. If you decide to travel abroad to meet in person, hire a trusty local guide and arrange meetings in open places.

About the Author

Irene Njongwa is a freelance writer who has been providing web content since 2008. She writes for Demand Studios, Associated Content and Suite 101. Njongwa mainly writes articles on healthy eating and travel. She holds an Associate Degree in business management.

Photo Credits

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