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How Many Cousins Do You Really Have?

One of the first things that a genealogist begins researching is his or her family tree. Most people can figure out how many first cousins they have. You probably are very familiar with at least a couple of them. Ask your relatives to fill in the blanks about your cousin’s names and birthdays.

A.J. Jacobs wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times titled Are You My Cousin? In it, Jacobs ponders about how we are probably all connected to each other. Keep working on your genealogy, and you may find that your tree connects to that of your neighbor’s, or maybe to a famous person. is a popular genealogy website that is now part of the MyHeritage company. It is a great place to go if you want to begin putting together your family tree. One of the things that Geni has been working on is Geni’s World Family Tree. They have connected more than 75,682,655 people worldwide.

Some of the people that Geni has included in their World Family Tree are: Alexander Graham Bell, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, President Woodrow Wilson, and Sir Winston Churchill. Most genealogists are at least a little bit curious about whether or not their family tree includes some very famous people. Connect your family tree to the Geni World Family Tree, and you may discover that you have some very well known cousins.

Another option is to get involved with WikiTree. Their mission is to grow a single worldwide family tree that will make genealogy free and accessible for everyone. Everything on WikiTree is free for absolutely anyone to use. There are no hidden fees, subscription charges, or paywalls.

WikiTree works in a way that is similar to Wikipedia. It allows for collaboration. An individual genealogist can make his or her own profile at WikiTree. You can also make an individual profile for each of your relatives. What if someone else already created a profile for great aunt Martha? Those duplicate profiles will be merged into one.

There is an Honor Code that people who contribute to WikiTree are expected to follow. Some of it includes citing sources and being nice to others. There are systems in place that protect privacy. Your experience using WikiTree could result in the discovery of cousins that you didn’t even know you had!

One way to get started at WikiTree is to ask your relative, who is already using it, for an invitation. Or, a genealogist can register for a guest membership. You can create an unlimited number of profiles, one for each of your relatives and ancestors. There is plenty of room to record all those cousins.

Image by Brad Holt at

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