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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How to Find the Living


It is quite challenging to trace your family history if you do not know anyone who can provide clues to help you. If you have already asked the family members that you know, perhaps you should begin the journey to locating others that may be living and can tell you more.
In “Steps to locating extended family” you learned how to identify family members from the census that may yet be living. Now that you have a list of people living in 1940, you will need to figure out which of them passed away.

Eliminate those who passed away
Take your list of people you found on the 1940 Census, and search for each person in the family among death certificates or the Social Security Death Index. Record the deaths of those you find. This will eliminate some of the people on your list of those who may be living.

In the process of searching for death records, you will more than likely come across other resources that you will need to look at very differently this time around. Try to determine what clues these resources can tell you about who may yet be living:
  • church - Was the person buried in a church cemetery? Are meetings still held at the church?
  • cemeteries – Have there been any recent burials of people related to you?
  • funeral homes - Is the funeral home still being used by family members?
  • informants – Is the informant still alive?
  • residence of deceased – Does anyone live at this address know that may know your family?

Names of new individuals that you come across should be recorded. Trace people you discover using vital records and census records to determine if they are related to you. If your family lived near an incorporated area, check the local library for city directories that may provide an annual record of your family between census years.

A list of possible Chick family members that were possibly living was created using the process outlined thus far. A search among death records was conducted using that list, and some whose deaths were not documented were found using the following resources:

How to find the living
What do you do with the names of people who you could not find death information for? You next step is to search public directories to see if you can find a record for your people from the list of those that may yet be living.

Living descendants of the Chick family were discovered on the US Public Records Index (1950-1993) at This directory even picked up descendants living in the same area as their ancestors. Some of them were not old enough to be listed on the census; therefore there was not a previous record of them. Some of the information about each person contained in this database includes:
  • street
  • mailing address
  • telephone number
  • birth date or birth year
Your family may have migrated from the area. If so, the search will become more difficult, but if you have an idea where they may be living, try searching


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