I'm searching for former classmates
March 15, 2016 10:20 AM   Subscribe

The folks organizing my 50th high school reunion have asked me to search for some lost classmates. Aside from WhitePages.com I'd like some suggestions of other ways of finding people online. Thanks in advance for your ideas!
posted by partner to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Facebook, zabasearch.com, call your high school's alunmi association (if any), and network with your classmates.
posted by Rob Rockets at 10:30 AM on March 15, 2016

Is there an alumni magazine? I've seen a few for schools in my city, and they have calls for "lost" students.

I've had good luck finding people in Facebook groups dedicated to cities and/or neighborhoods. "We Grew Up In ..." and "You Know You're a [resident of city] If ..." and groups with the place in the title are often good bets. If you want to tell us where you are, we might be able to point you to specific groups.

Also, I hate to be morbid, but Find a Grave should be part of your search.
posted by vickyverky at 10:37 AM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I work in a University Alumni Office.

Our best way of finding "lost" alumni is by putting out a call to alumni we can contact, and asking them if they have kept in touch with anyone on the list. We've also had great luck with a FB post asking our FB followers to ask the lost alumni to contact us. We also publish the list in our magazine, but direct mail specifically asking folks to put us in touch with lost alumni, and social media requests, both work the best.

There is also a paid service that does this, called AlumniFinder, if you want to go that route.

I'd suggest starting a FB group for your 50th, and invite the people you do know. Then explicitly ask them to invite others. I bet you'll be very surprised.
posted by anastasiav at 10:56 AM on March 15, 2016 [7 favorites]

Post it on the Craigslist that covers your area and ask people to get in touch.
Start a Facebook event and share it on your own page. Ask others to share it, and also post it to any Facebook pages relevant to your town.
Tweet it and use the hashtag that's the name of your town (don't worry if you think classmates aren't on Twitter - their children and other relations might be).
Check LinkedIn.
posted by Miko at 11:06 AM on March 15, 2016

Classmates.com might be useful.
posted by Beti at 11:21 AM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

You should search legacy.com (and similar sites) for obituaries.
posted by Candleman at 11:27 AM on March 15, 2016

Obituaries. Looking up the name and town can get you hits on google. They are some of the most helpful. It will often give you the person (even though they have a different married name since their relatives have the maiden name) and importantly the location (i e leaves John and Janet Smith of Peoria, Ill). Many searches with slightly different parameters will help. For instance you wouldn't want to only do "John Johnson" in case they say "Leaves his 2 sons, John and James Johnson".
Also Pipl is a good option, too. Includes year born, different towns they lived in, "associated with" so you can find married name, etc.
Searchsquad on facebook is also amazing at finding living people if you have one or two difficult ones. It's all volunteer and they are pretty swamped so they wont want to see a list.
posted by ReluctantViking at 11:29 AM on March 15, 2016

Agree wholeheartedly that facebook will probably get you the most traction here.

If there's a popular local business that's been around since your high school days, ping them and ask if they'll make a post on your behalf about getting in touch for the reunion. (If you can include a timely picture of the school or class from the yearbook or something that would be excellent.) My grandma follows several local businesses from her old hometown and from time to time they serve as de facto messageboards for people who miss the area and want to reconnect with folks. For instance, she follows a page for the fire station down the street from where she used to teach and about once a week or so they'll post a picture of some decades-old photo from the area captioned "does anyone remember...?" People come out of the woodwork to talk about the things and people they miss.
posted by phunniemee at 11:31 AM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

If your county has public property tax records that may be a good source.
posted by littlewater at 11:35 AM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Simple Google search can be a great help. People give quotes for newspaper articles or win the local jam-making competition a lot. This can narrow it down to a state or city and can help a lot if your alum is named Dave Smith.
posted by chainsofreedom at 11:35 AM on March 15, 2016

Oh yeah, and when you get a city or county, you can search a lot of places's Register of Deeds. That can net you an address and it's not hard to get a phone number from there.
posted by chainsofreedom at 11:36 AM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nthing the property tax records and the recorder of deeds once you've exhausted the possibilities with Facebook. I found all but four of my dad's classmates for his 50th reunion and those were my best sources. Another place to look is online state court records, sometimes you can find addresses that way.
posted by slmorri at 11:39 AM on March 15, 2016

You can also call/email the alumni departments of the colleges these people went to, if you know them. Or dig through the alumni registers of different universities yourself. If a lot of people went to your local state university, you can just go to the library there and open up the relevant yearbooks and start looking.

(Wow I sound really creepy. I do this for my research, although mostly for people who are already dead.)
posted by chainsofreedom at 11:40 AM on March 15, 2016

Create a group on Facebook, put the word out to the people they know, they'll put the word out to the people they know....People looking for it will find it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:56 AM on March 15, 2016

We've had some luck sending a press release "Class of xxxx looking for alumni" to the local newspaper. If it's a small town newspaper, they will most likely run it to fill space and as a community service.
posted by areaperson at 12:51 PM on March 15, 2016

Definitely spread the word among the high school Facebook friends that you know.
posted by mmascolino at 1:45 PM on March 15, 2016

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