Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Find Relatives on the BYU-EDU Relative Finder Website

The WikiChicks blog alerted me yesterday to the BYU-EDU Relative Finder tool that works on the FamilySearch Family Tree.  Obviously, you have to be included in the Family Tree and connected to ancestors.

Here is the BYU-EDU Relative Finder home page:

You have to be signed into your FamilySearch account.

Clicking on the "Relatives" link takes you to the page to "Select groups to find relatives."  There are a number of groups to choose from - I chose several of them:

After choosing the groups, you click on the "Show Relatives" button next to the "Check All" button.

The results take some time to appear the first time you use the system.  Here is part of the first page (of 13 pages with 10 items on each page) of my results:

Wow, Thomas Jefferson is listed twice for some reason.  The different columns provide this information:

*  Relative's name
*  Relationship - usually a great-great, or a cousin so many times removed
*  Your path 
*  Relative's path
*  Common Ancestor
*  Group
*  Chart (a link to view the relationship)

I clicked on the first link for Thomas Jefferson, purportedly my 9th cousin three times removed (four screens below, some overlap on the last one):

The chart shows the two paths - my path is on the right, and the "Relative's" path is on the left.

This would be wonderful for sharing with cousins if, and it's a BIG IF, all of the data in the FamilySearch Family Tree was correct.

If you look carefully at the line from the common ancestors, Edward Bulkley and Olive Irby, you will see that there are several spurious relationships on the Jefferson line.  There are also several generations with no name for a father or a mother.  And Edward Bulkeley and Olive Irby are duplicated, but with different lifespan years, in the second generation down the chart.  There is a lot wrong with the Thomas Jefferson line on this chart.

Obviously, the charts, and the calculated relationships, are dependent on the information in the FamilySearch Family Tree.  Someone (not me!) has input a number of relationships, names, lifespans, etc. that are wrong.  Actually, there are over 180 separate profiles for Edward Bulkeley (1540-1621) in the FamilySearch Family Tree.  These need to be merged if they are for the same person, but that is not yet possible in the FamilySearch Family Tree.  Here is the top of the first page of matches:

I randomly selected this match because it was the first match, and I was really excited to find that I might be a cousin to Thomas Jefferson.  I hope that I am, but I won't claim the relationship yet.

Although I have shown a really poor example above, this can be a very useful tool, and a tool to interest relatives who are not yet interested in genealogy research.

However, like all online family trees, the information is only as good as the data input - remember, GIGO (garbage-in, garbage-out).  

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Geolover said...

Very good reminder about GIGO. And there is more garbage in every day.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Randy, for posting this! :)
When I read your post, I just had to try this website out.
Boy, was I in for a good and warm surprise!!
There are two things I am really passionate about: silent movies and genealogy. So a while back, just because I had to wait on results for my lines, I started cleaning up the familysearch lines of famous silent movie actors.

Cut to today - I signed in and got only a handfull of results (this service is of course US-centred and I am German) but I almost fell off my chair - Buster Keaton is my 8th cousin, 3rd grade!! I love him, and we're related, too!?!

Best of all - I know the connection is probably correct as I had cleaned up Buster's heritage on familysearch a while back! (And was intrigued he had German roots in cities I had family roots too.) :D

Thank you Randy!! This (once again) was a lovely blogpost!

Jana Iverson Last said...


I've tried Relative Finder as well. It's quite interesting and says I'm related to Thomas Jefferson too. But yes, this information is only correct if the information in FamilySearch Family Tree is correct.

I want to let you know that two of your blog posts are listed in today’s Fab Finds post at

Have a wonderful weekend!

HeyJunie said...
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