Charmed Life
You, too, can be a truly lucky genealogist with these five strategies for creating family tree connections.

We've all heard one or another researcher's story of some grand, unexpected genealogical discovery that strikes like lightning: Your neighbor learns his grandmother was third-grade playmates with the grandmother of the guy who sealed his driveway. A research buddy finds a family photo album at the neighbor's yard sale.

You smile and applaud their fortune, but inwardly wonder, “Why doesn't that ever happen to me?” Well, I'm here to say you can find unknown cousins and long-lost heirlooms — if you create your own luck. The genealogists who told me the following inspiring success stories went out looking for serendipity on message boards, in DNA databases, at online auction sites and elsewhere. Use their secrets to capitalize on these five ways to connect with kin and rediscover your family's past.