The Guide to Tracing Relatives

If you've spent the last few years meticulously tracing your roots and creating a family tree, why not use this information to get in touch with distant living relations? This is your chance to complete your family picture by using the threads of information you have uncovered to search for relations across the UK.

Or maybe you're looking for immediate family members and friends that you've lost touch with or were separated from? It can be a lot easier to find the people you're looking for than you think.

If you're looking for distant or missing relatives, can help you find them...

1) Arm yourself with the factsArm yourself with the facts

If you're an avid family history researcher, you will already be familiar with the need to collate as many names and dates as possible before you start your research. The same applies with tracing living relatives. Start by preparing a list of all the names, locations and dates of key events such as births, marriages and deaths. Old address books are a great place to start. The more detail you can collect at this point, the easier and more successful your trace is likely to be.

2) Start your search narrow and work your way out

Many families hail from just one or two towns or villages in the UK. Once you have determined the most recent family surnames, search by that name in the areas they were last known to be living. Current Electoral Rolls are the best way to find Start your search narrow and work your way out a shortlist of potential living relatives. These are often linked back to Directory Enquiry records or you may find it less intrusive to try snail mail at first. Even if you don't hit the jackpot straight away, you may foster a local contact that can help you from there.

3) Start your search wide and work your way in

If a narrow search doesn't work in your favour, take advantage of our nationwide Electoral Roll searching. If you have a unique name or no idea where a person is living now, this will be your saviour. Other types of searching, such as Directory Enquiries, will require you to specify a location. If you are searching nationwide, try using additional search criteria such as the person's likely age or the name of a person they may be living with (e.g. the name of their spouse) to narrow down your search.

Start your search wide and work your way in 4) Don't forget their day job

It can be a long shot but 4 million people in the UK are registered as Company Directors. In addition to their full name and current contact details, you will find their exact age, nationality and their current and previous Directorships. Once you have a list of companies that they are associated with names, this can be used to find business contact details.

5) An aerial view of your roots

If some or all of your family migrated across the country or even emigrated overseas, it can be fascinating for descendants to see their ancestor's home towns from an aerial view. Take advantage of the aerial photography and satellite images on many mapping websites today, including, to get a feel for the layout of the area and the rural landscape.

6) Don't give up!

If you are not successful on your first round of searching, don't give up. Most local Electoral Rolls and Director Reports are updated quarterly with a major update issued every year. The beauty of the Internet is that once this information is collected, it can be made available fairly quickly.

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