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Why You Can't Find Your Ancestor Online

Why You Can't Find Your Ancestors Online  Find more genealogy blogs at FamilyTree.comOne of the reasons that genealogy has become a very popular hobby is due it how easy it has become to access information about one’s ancestors. Genealogists use, or FamilySearch, or both. The assumption is that everything you want to find is online. Sometimes, that simply isn’t so. Here are some of the reasons why you can’t find your ancestor online.

Your Ancestor Might Not be Online At All
We assume that since the popular genealogy websites are so huge that our ancestor’s information must be in there somewhere. Those huge databases certainly must have at least one vital record, or a piece of that ancestor’s military history, right?

The reality is that even though the big genealogy websites contain a wealth of resources for genealogists – it would be impossible for them to contain absolutely everything. The reason you are hitting the “brick wall” is because there is nothing there for you to find. That particular ancestor’s records never got archived, indexed, or input into a genealogical database.

What can you do when this happens? One option is to use offline resources. In the days before the internet, genealogists had to travel to courthouses, churches, cemeteries, and genealogy libraries, in the location where their elusive ancestor lived. Plan a trip. Seek out genealogical societies that may be able to provide you some help with your research.

Keep in mind, however, that your efforts may not result in success. Your ancestor could have lived, got married, had a family, and died in the days before governments required vital records to be kept. What you are seeking might not exist.

You Are Not Active On Social Media
You can find the social media accounts for genealogical organizations (and smaller local groups) on social media. Start typing in the word “genealogy” and a location name into Facebook, Twitter,, and whatever other social media website you have an account in. You will end up connecting with other genealogists, family history buffs, and genealogy bloggers who may be able to help you find your elusive ancestor.

It is not unheard of for people to discover living relatives that they did not know they had via social media. You may have heard news stories about an adoptee finding his or her birth parents, or long lost cousins finding each other, via Facebook.

The more active you are on social media, the more likely it will be for an unknown relative to find you. That person may have the answers you are seeking about your elusive ancestor whose vital records are not online.

Image by Jayel Aheram on Flickr.

Related Articles at

* A Boolean Search Could Help You Find Your Ancestor

* How to Combine Genealogy and Social Media

* Ways to Use Social Media for Family History

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