Youll find even more FAQs (and the answers) on our Web site.
Q. How am I related to ?
A. It depends whos the most-recent shared ancestor between you and the relative in question, and how many generations lie between each of you and that ancestor. Find an explanation here and a chart to help you figure it all out here.
Q. Weve always heard were related to [fill in the famous nameJohn Brown, Daniel Boone and Abraham Lincoln are common ones]. How do we know for sure?
A. Lots of families have stories like this, and theyre not all true. To find out about yours, carefully research your family tree using reliable sources. Youll also need to find the family tree of the person you might be related to (link to several famous trees here) and compare the trees to find people common to both.
Q. Why can’t I find my ancestor on the Ellis Island Web site?
A. Ellis Island, open from 1892 through 1924, was the busiest US port of immigration, but it wasn’t the only one. Cities all along the coasts received immigrants, including Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Galveston, San Francisco and others. Your ancestor may have arrived at one of these ports, or before Ellis Island opened, or overland from Canada or Mexico. See a list of ports and existing records for each on the National Archives Web site.
Q. My daughter learned she and her fiancé share an ancestor. Can they still marry?
A. Its common for spouses to share an ancestor somewhere back in timein fact, all states allow marriage between second or more-distant cousins. See a summary of state laws governing cousin marriages at the National Conference of State Legislatures.