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It's ok to use reverse genealogy (sometimes)!

Is that you I hear reaching for the smelling salts at the very thought of using reverse genealogy?

Picture of an old typewriter with a sheet of paper saying Reverse Genealogy - courtesy of

You’ve always been told to start with what you know and then work backwards when researching the family tree, right? But trust me, it’s ok to do the opposite and start with what you know and move forward to find descendants – sometimes!

I’ve needed to use reverse genealogy methods several times recently when helping different clients either find long-lost relatives or their birth families. They were not all that interested in ancestors but wanted to find living, breathing humans. So, I took a deep breath and, ignoring all my training about always working backwards, I jumped right in.

When to use reverse genealogy

Reverse genealogy methods are useful to:

• find living or deceased family members’ descendants – often aunts, uncles and cousins – to fill gaps in your family tree;

• help adoptees find birth parents and siblings;