Looking for a lost relative requires dedication and willingness to spend time researching a variety of options and resources, many of which are free but require time and diligence. A variety of online and offline resources may help you in your search for a lost relative, whether that person is a current family member or an ancestor. Not too long ago, the ability to search for a missing person or relative limited private individuals to accessing records and data, but these days, thanks to the Internet, a person looking for a lost relative may access public databases, archives and groups online around the world that may help facilitate your search.
Log onto the Internet and start your search with free information databases such as those at MyHeritage.com, which is a search engine designed for genealogical research data. For this reason, sites like this enable individuals to search thousands of bits of data after registering. Other free resources include The-Seeker.com and PeopleFinders.com.
Ask current family members about the history of the lost relative. Keep in mind that in some cases, family disagreements or disputes initiate family members to fall away, so take care when approaching immediate relatives about the person, and be sensitive to their comments. However, to keep the peace, do try to find information such as birth date, place of birth, employment history and last known address to help you search other resources.
Join missing relative discussion boards such as The National Center for Missing Adults or Family and Friends of Missing Persons and Violent Crime Victims if your search leads you in that direction. The National Center for Missing Adults offers a variety of resources, including support to those looking for a lost relative. International resources are also offered, as is help and tips for searching for adoptive children or birth parents and help in registering a missing person on their database.
Access social networking sites, where you may register for free, to meet and talk to others seeking a missing relative and gain the benefit of their experience and advice. Common social networking sites include MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Such advice is often invaluable for those just starting a search for a missing relative.
Access public records online in the county or state where you believe your missing relative might have lived or currently lives. Records regarding address, phone number, birth, marriage and death information may be available. Access sites like PublicRecordFinder.com for links to public record databases in all states that may be accessed free of charge.
Search databases such as those archived by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who maintain archives in cities around the country. These are called Family History Centers and may be accessed by anyone, whether they belong to the LDS church or not. These depositories are often small and equipped with minimal microfiche and computer access, but if you're willing to take the time to dig through archived newspaper and documents for your missing relative, your efforts may pay off.