Would I Seek Living People Too?

Randy's thought-provoking post, "Searching for Living People...," prompted me to ask myself, "What if?" What if I were contacted to help find a still living person? Would I be willing to accept the job? Yes? No? Maybe?

Genealogists are by nature a curious folk, I think, and I don't know any who would turn down an opportunity to solve a good mystery. But when the mystery involves the living, the outcome can be a whole lot more complicated.

I opened my internal dialogue with a series of scenarios. What if the potential client were looking for a long lost sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle or grandparent? What if they were looking for a high school sweetheart, or childhood friend? But regardless of the scenario, my first response was always no.

I would not accept the case because I am a genealogist not a people finder. There are investigators who do that job, and they, unlike me, would be abreast of the laws governing privacy and liability, should something go wrong.

On the other hand, if I were to stumble across a living relative during the course of a routine research assignment, I would share the discovery with my client, and I would offer to help connect the two--if they both agreed.

The bottom line is, I seek dead people, and leave the living to the rest. ;-)


When we are new to a path, we can't always see what's up ahead, and I want to thank Randy for helping me find my way clear on this issue. Thank you!


    I agree with you on this one. There's so much potential for trouble that I think I'd steer clear.

    I agree, it could go well IF the
    person wants to be found. But
    there are people who are lost for a
    reason...... I have some experience
    with this happening.


    I agree with you. The few times I've tried to help someone find living people I've ended up in a little bit of hot water. Usually the person they were looking for, didn't want to be found. Once the person I found had mental issues.