07 March 2009

Finding Famous Family

My relatives – the ones I celebrate holidays with, not the famous ones who do not even know I exist – often ask me how I find celebrities in the family tree. One way to do it is to put your family in OneWorldTree on Ancestry, then click on “Find famous relatives.”

If that doesn’t work, here are some suggestions:

  1. Expand your own family tree out as far as you can. Use
    proven genealogical techniques and do not rely on online trees.

  2. Learn the surnames of the people on your pedigree who
    were in the US or Canada before 1776. You don’t need to be able to recite
    then, but you should be able to recognize them.

  3. Connect your tree to one of these areas:
  • New France. Back in the 1600s, a limited number of people settled in French Canada. They bred like crazy and intermingled so much that if you find yourself related to one Quebecois, you’ll likely find yourself related to all of them. The genealogies of these people have been thoroughly tracked.
  • New Amsterdam. Though not as insular as New France or as well documented, these settlers in early New York were there about as early and serve as a bottleneck you can tap into.
  • New England. Connecting to someone in early Plymouth or other colonial New England town can open you up to the mother load of famous relatives.
  1. When you come across an article about Madonna being related to Jack Kerouac or a genealogy blogger bragging about being related to every president, check out the famous person’s tree. Review the names of their end people and see if any of them match any of the surnames on your tree. (I admit, I don’t check out the famous person’s tree for correctness. Linking to a famous person is done on a whim, while building my own tree accurately is an obligation.)

  2. If all your ancestors came through Ellis Island, your best bet is to try to get one of your cousins to try out for American Idol.

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