Researching Beyond the Direct Family Lineage

You might be the family historian but have only concentrated on your direct family lineage –parents-grandparents-great grandparents, etc. That is very important to gather the direct lineage, however, one area that could assist that search is to look at the collateral family lines (the aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts-uncles, etc. They are your indirect line.

Take one branch of the full family tree and go through each ancestor (and collateral family) getting their full names, birth-marriage and death dates and locations. So you could start with your father’s brother (which would have the same surname). Find his vital dates and locations. Go then to your father’s uncles (those brothers of your grandfather on your father’s side). Do not try to do every sibling, just one or two start with.

Once you have some basic information do some more in-depth research on the collateral (indirect) relative using census records, military records, courthouse records and especially local hometown newspapers. If that uncle remained in the same town as your father – great, but even if the uncle lived in another town, do research those newspapers.  

Remember that siblings, children, aunts and uncles may be featured in newspaper articles that mention other family members, including your direct-lineage ancestors. So, researching beyond your direct line is important. Using local newspapers can prove to have some little known or never known information.

In doing my family history I had found that trying to locate a great-grandfather was very difficult. However, by then doing research on his brother, I now located additional information on that family including the great-grandfather.

A good free to use Newspaper digital collection is ‘Chronicling America‘ – a great starting point. You can then try with free trials some of the paid newspaper subscriptions: Newspaper Archives and

Photos: Newspapers and your relatives.

Related Blogs:

Ancestors in Newspaper Advertisements

250 Hometown Newspapers

Collateral Lines

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