Five Tips to Finding New Ancestors & Cousins


One of the most satisfying aspects of Family History work is finding new family members through research efforts. Researching has become significantly easier with the help of multiple search services, "Record Hints", and such. So many different types of records are on-line now, such as Census Records, Military Draft Records, City Directories, Probates & Wills, birth, marriage, and death certificates, obituaries, and more.

Doing research is like putting a puzzle together. Try collaborating with other family members. Feel free to explore the tips below.

Traditional "Hourglass" Pedigree View

In this view, an "ancestor" is in the "center position" with ancestors to the right and descendants to the left. In this case, John McBride is the "ancestor" with his ancestral line to the right, and his descendants to the left. Use the left "carats" or angles to expand the children's lines out further.

It is a helpful view to give you an idea which children don't have spouses or where there are no/minimal number of children. These children would be ones to begin to explore for more information about, such as a spouse or children. Census records are a great way of finding spouses and children.


Family Tree Descendancy View

In this view, the "ancestor" is in the top left position. The spouse shows just below the man and the children of that spouse will show in the layers beneath. If there is a 2nd or more spouse, then they would show below the first spouse layers.

The icons to the right of the individuals represent things such Record Hints being available, or Research Suggestions, etc.


BYU Virtual Pedigree

This view is very similar to the "Hourglass" view, in that you can set your ancestor in the "Home" position with ancestors to the right and descendants to the left. The nice feature though with this Virtual Pedigree, is that as you move around on the pedigree, it will collapse and open up different areas to more easily see the descendants. There is also a "Legend" on the left that will direct you to things such as missing spouse or children, etc.

You will need to log into FamilySearch to use this website as it uses FamilySearch data.



Puzzilla is an interesting website. After logging into FamilySearch, it will create a diagram of your ancestors. Hovering over the different blue (male) or red (female) dots allows you to select a particular ancestor. Puzzilla then recreates another diagram like that seen above.

In this diagram, the circled blue dot at the center is my 2nd great grandfather, John McBride. The first layer of dots circling him are his children. The next layer would be his grandchildren, and so on. One of the lines shows a yellow descendancy line out to the outer layer of dots. This is my direct line of ancestors out to John McBride.

Notice that not all the lines come out to present day time. Those are dead end lines, where those individuals (red or blue) either died, didn't have a spouse, were married but never had children OR there is no further FamilySearch information on them. These are descendant lines just waiting to be explored.

There is a great online tutorial as to how to use this site on the website.