How do I find members of my family who are overseas?
April 5, 2008 8:57 PM   Subscribe

How do I find family overseas?

My mother has family who live in Poland and Australia, both of which have probably not been contacted for years. Nobody knows who they are. How do I go about finding them? (Re-establishing contact with them might be of some use in the future.)
posted by kldickson to Human Relations (3 answers total)
Yeah, not enough info here. "Nobody knows who they are," and yet you know that they exist? How many generations back are we talking? Your mother knows nothing? Is she capable of assisting you? Alive and compos mentis? Was she born in Poland and moved to the States, while others moved to Australia? Years are particularly good to know when you're looking for immigration records &c. These mysterious relatives "have probably not been contacted for years" by whom? Your now-deceased grandparents? I assume you know your mother's maiden name, but maybe that's not helpful? So confused.

Please tell us a very long story containing loads of details so that we may further advise you in this matter. Alternately, a short answer is: go to and start with what you know, working backwards, then forward down these other branches. Maybe.
posted by mumkin at 1:39 AM on April 6, 2008

Response by poster: The thing is, I have no details. All I know is that they have Polish ancestry and live in Poland and Australia. I know a surname that is probably in their ancestry, but I have absolutely nothing else. We're talking at least four or five generations back. I can give my father immigration records to sift through, since he's a genealogy person, but I'm not sure what else to do. Post something on the Internet saying 'Your family in the United States wants to get in touch with you' ?
posted by kldickson at 6:07 AM on April 6, 2008

I don't know a perfect way to do this, but here's how I found my great-grandmother's family in Syria. I had the surname and I Googled it off and on for years. It's an uncommon Armenian name, so that helped. I emailed people I found with that name--sounds random, but it was very helpful. I found out where people with that name came from and ended up.

We could never establish that we were related though. About a year ago I found a business listing with the last name in the town my great-grandmother came from and emailed them. It was my great-grandmother's brother's son. It was like I had reached into the past and found him. It was been over 35 yrs since anyone in the US had been in contact with that side of the family.

So it's possible to find people using the internet. You need names though. Go through immigration records, they will give you names and place of birth and last known address. You can't do it without this. Post in genealogy forums for known surnames--I've found some distant relatives in the U.S. that way. Good luck.
posted by jdl at 6:51 AM on April 6, 2008

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