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Learning Centre


Sibling Research: How It Helps Uncover Your Ancestor, Too
By Ancestry.com 31 March 2010


Who knows more about you than your brothers and sisters? You can discover plenty of details about your own ancestors by researching their siblings, too. Siblings shared parents and other relatives and may have lived in the same house, street, or town. Their children may have gone to school together, and they may have kept mementos including photos, family Bibles, and letters that offer details about your ancestor’s life.

Tracing siblings is no different than tracing your own ancestor, although you may not have the benefit of knowing all the married names and children that can help you find a person. But with a little practice, a keen eye for detail, and the following tips, your searches for siblings should be smooth sailing:

  • Start your search for siblings in the census by following your ancestor's parents forward through time so you can collect the names of all of their children as well as identifying dates, places of birth, occupations, and other details. While you’ve probably already seen the census records in which your ancestor was living in the house, be sure to check the ones from before he or she was born and the ones that were taken after your ancestor moved out so you’re sure to catch oldest children, youngest children, and any children or grandchildren who returned home to live with the parents. Watch for step-children, too, in the case where a parent remarries.

  • Looking for a strategy? Try the sibling with the most unique name first. There’s a good chance you'll find clues about the family through the first sibling you trace, so starting with an unusual name could get your research up and running.

  • When finding census records is a problem, turn to other records. Obituaries may include mentions of brothers and sister or nieces and nephews (then look for their obituaries, too). Birth indexes may help you find other children with the same parent or parents. Family members may be buried near one another in cemeteries. And most siblings went to the same school (although during different years) so check yearbooks and school registries for people with the same names.

  • Once you’ve found an ancestor’s siblings, check for those names in Ancestry.com.au family trees. You’ll find more family details and a quick way to connect with cousins you may not have met before – and who could hold some of those mementos your ancestor shared with the family years before.

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