find familyThe holiday season has rolled around, and between flyers advertising family discounts for “The Nutcracker,” family gathering survival tips, hearty family feasts and awkward family portraits, all things family abound. If all this family talk has inspired you to add new chapters to your family tales, made you feel lonely or left you wanting to search for your kin, online genealogy services are available to assist you. With the advent of technological tools and crowdsourcing, online genealogy services allow subscribers to find family and long-lost relatives more easily. This means that if you’ve decided to finally find out who your parents are, or if you want a fun holiday gift or family-bonding activity, an online genealogy service might be the perfect solution for you. Before getting started on your family search through a genealogy service, read on to learn how they can help you uncover your family history, story and roots.

Build a family tree and search through records

You can use online genealogy services to start your search by building your family tree. While most services require a paid membership for you to build an online family tree (note that a number of services offer free trials), in some instances, you can build a tree for free through a service like FamilySearch, a nonprofit that provides online family tree building tools, records and phone support at no cost. After signing up for your preferred genealogy service, you’ll begin growing your family tree by providing some information about yourself and your relatives (e.g., birth dates, birth places, spouses’ names, etc.). Once you’ve provided all the information that you know, you may think your tree’s growth will stop, but it doesn’t have to. That’s because most genealogy services provide various resources to assist subscribers with their family searches, including the ability to search records and use other technological tools to discover relatives. Ancestry, for example, leaves automated “hints” that allow you to locate records and information that could be relevant to you. By building a family tree and searching through records, you can piece together parts of your lineage that have been forgotten or falsified over time.

Crowdsourcing information from subscribers’ family trees

Genealogy services have developed online tools to help you find your kin through crowdsourcing. For example, MyHeritage offers Smart Matching, a technological tool that compares your family tree with other users’ family trees. The tool does this by identifying intersections between your family tree and millions of other subscribers’ family trees, analyzing and matching facts, names and connections. When Smart Matching discovers a match between family trees, their owners are notified of the mutual connection. The heads-up sparks an opportunity for these owners to interact and collaborate, so they can discover even more family connections together.

As you can see, MyHeritage is able to utilize the power of crowdsourcing to draw connections and help users find relatives. Do note, however, that other genealogy services also offer similar features, such as the ability to make your tree public, which allows you to match parts of your tree with others’ trees and vice versa. To find out which subscriptions provide such tools, check out our reviews of different genealogy services.

DNA testing can connect you with your heritage and family

If you didn’t already know, some genealogy services allow you to complete a DNA test from the convenience of your own home. DNA testing is another way for people to find relatives and connect with their heritage. AncestryDNA, Ancestry’s $79 DNA testing kit, is one such product that can help you find long-lost family members. By drawing on autosomal testing technology and family history resources, AncestryDNA can map your origins to 26 ethnic regions. AncestryDNA can also help you find long-lost relatives by matching your DNA to the DNA of other AncestryDNA test takers.

The DNA test is easy for any customer to complete. You simply collect your DNA samples (note that the type of sample may vary), mail them to a lab and wait for the results. Some DNA tests, AncestryDNA being one of them, require you to send in a saliva sample, while others ask you to do a simple cheek swab. After you receive the results, the service will let you know how many potential relatives you may have, based on your DNA test results.

Finding long-lost family members can seem like a daunting task. Lucky for you, online genealogy services offer various ways for you to easily discover blood ties and family connections, helping you to find family and form closer bonds during this holiday season. To find the perfect service for your family research needs, read our reviews of genealogy services.