How to find family in the USA without “detectives”

The task of finding someone in the USA can be easy. Even if relatives immigrated to the USA 50 or more years ago, family can be found practically for free or little money with basic information.

The best free online phonebook for finding Americans is 411.com. Sometimes the website will list the age range and relatives of the person being searched. This really helps narrow down whether the correct person was found.

Intelius is the best website to find Americans if a married name or a recent address is unknown. The website lists the person’s known names, approximate age, previous and current places of residence and household members.

Intelius is a paid service so you will need to pay $1.95 for phone numbers and addresses. Do not select the 95 cent special because you will get stuck with a “free trial membership” that is annoying to cancel. I hardly ever pay for addresses and phone numbers on Intelius because I use it to narrow down the places to search for people and then use the new information to find people on 411.com.

Now if you are searching for descendants of relatives who immigrated to the USA many years ago, it is highly recommend to sign up for a 14-day Ancestry.com free trial membership. Ancestry.com requires a credit card to sign up for the trial membership. Then after the trial membership, ancestry.com charges $22.95 for a month-to-month membership or $12.95 a month for a 6-month membership billed at once. I highly recommend signing up for the trial membership when you have the most free time.

Ancestry.com has a lot of marriage, phone and census records that can provide enough information to find relatives of immigrants of the USA from the early 20th century. I found a Russian man’s immigration record on ancestry.com from 1911 and located enough marriage and census records that I found a granddaughter. I found her 411.com after I saw on Intelius the cities where she lived. The Russian man was not related to a friend but this shows that relatives of long-ago immigrants can be found with some effort.

Besides ancestry.com, two other websites are useful to find immigration records. Familysearch.org, a free website that doesn’t require registration, has 54 databases for immigration and naturalization records. Records for immigrants who arrived in the USA through Ellis Island from 1892-1924 can be found here. The website is free but requires registration to view records.

My next blog will show how I found relatives of a Polish man from Russia who immigrated to the USA in 1912. It was my toughest search ever but a great learning experience for me.

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