Possibly Educational

Family History for Friends

This is a series on finding your niche in doing family history.

One of the coolest parts of doing family history is realizing how interconnected you are to so many people. Relative Finder helps you explore your relationships with famous people from history or even relationships with your friends.


When you first log in through FamilySearch, it pulls up a list of your historically significant relatives, starting with the ones most closely related to you. It tells you their name, how you’re related to them, and how they are significant in history. You can click on their name to see more information, and in some cases it will link to Wikipedia. For example, one of my 9th great grandmothers was hung during the Salem witch trials, so it linked to a Wikipedia page about her life and her witch trial.


You can connect to friends and neighbors by creating a group. My ward has a group, and there I can see how I’m related to the people in my ward, which is kind of fun. It’s really easy to create a group or join a group someone has already created. Just keep in mind groups work best between people who aren’t obviously related. A group with your cousins, aunts, and uncles will be pretty boring, because you already know how you’re related.


Unfortunately getting to where you can see the groups you’ve joined isn’t very intuitive. If you click the down arrow labeled “Show Groups” you can filter the list down to specific groups. So if I select my ward group (under the Private heading) I’ll be able to see the other ward members who have already joined and how we’re related. You can also filter down to a specific public group from here.


For example, I filtered down to Movie Stars. Jimmy Stewart is my 6th cousin, twice removed, and Lucille Ball is my 7th cousin, 4 times removed.


If I’m curious exactly how I’m related to Lucille Ball, I can click View and it’ll pull up a chart showing our relationship. You can even download a pdf.


The last fun thing you can do with Relative Finder is connect with a friend temporarily to see all the ways you’re related (groups only show the one closest way you’re related). I’ve done this with both a friend and my husband, and it’s mind-boggling how many connections we have. Just click the connect button, and it’ll give you a session ID to share with your friend. As you can see below, the password to join a session only lasts for 1 minute, so you both have to be at the ready–one to give the password and the other to join by typing it in. I did it over text with a friend, and we didn’t have a problem joining in time. But if you do miss it, just try again. This seems like a pain, but it’s a good security feature.



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