A. Collateral relatives include your ancestors’ siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins and even in-laws. The importance of researching these relatives varies with the project, but studying them is always appropriate.
When you research collateral relatives, you often learn more about your own ancestors. A diary or family Bible may contain details on extended family, with dates, places and ancestral names. Collateral relatives often migrated together and settled near one another, and sometimes intermarried, named children for one another, worshipped and went to war together, and were buried in the same vicinity.
If you plan to produce a comprehensive family history, you should include the collaterals as much as possible. In 1966, my grandmother gave me a copy of a South Carolina woman’s 1906 family history. When I began studying it, the book gave me insight I wouldn’t have had any other way. You see, she’d been raised by her maternal grandparents my fourth-great grandparents. Her stories of growing up in their household helped me view them as real people, not just names on charts.