Online Diligent Search/Family Finding Resources

Identify and learn about different types of online search engines and tools for diligent searching. Great supplement for Flowchart too!

Karen Coates avatar
Written by Karen Coates
Updated over a week ago

Click on the link below to learn about several types of free and fee-based online diligent searching resources.

Note: Links are embedded within the document to take you directly to these sites.

After you have gathered some names, start your searching!

Try some or all of the following; some have fees, and most are free.

People Search (Free)

This is our Connect Our Kids search engine that’s easy to use and

has instant results. People Search quickly finds contact information

for more than 3 billion people. Put in as much information as you have for

the best results.

Hint: to get the most accurate searches add a relative or a connection's name

to the person you are searching under the “Add Relationship”,

keep trying different relative's & connection's names until it yields

the accurate results you need. If you still don’t get results, try

supplementing with other search engines and/or search again

later; new information is always being updated.

US Phone Book (Free)

Good for locating current phone numbers, email addresses, and

relatives. (Paid Membership)

Ancestry can be a good resource, but only if you are finding documents

to support your research. If the information you find is from

personal family trees or stories, then you may not be looking for

accurate information. Also try Genealogy Bank, FamilySearch, etc.

Family Search has a free membership, Genealogy bank often wants

you to sign up for membership, but sometimes they will give you little tidbits,

as with most Genealogy websites. Creating a family tree is

a fun task to do with your kiddos! VERY IMPORTANT...since children

are minors and their information is confidential go into settings and

make any trees created private while also preventing others from

finding it in searches. (Free if you have

The most important thing to understand about

is that they do not have every single newspaper in their database.

They have A LOT, but not all. Searching the newspapers can be time-consuming

and results may not appear unless you find a search

term that pops a result. To narrow your search you can put your

“search term” in parenthesis, but sometimes narrowing the results

leaves out important results.

Search Obituaries (Some Free)

Obituaries are enormously helpful! Look for free obits first.

You can find these on Find-a-Grave sometimes, Legacy

(, (they might want you to pay for obits, but the

fee is affordable),, and Google. Get creative when

googling, for example: if you are looking for a parent’s name and

you only have the child’s name, google “survived by Jane Doe.”

Obits can be great for filling in the pieces of the puzzle with relative names

(spouse’s name) and sometimes where they lived (at

the time the obit was printed). (Free) can help if you have a birth date and want a death

date or if you have a death date and want a birth date. Some results

include obituaries, which can be enormously helpful. But, again, Find-

a-grave is a work in progress and the work is achieved by volunteers

who visit cemeteries and add photos and information to the website.

Lexis Nexis/ Accurint Search (Paid Membership)

Start by searching people’s names that are related to the child (usually bio

parents) by doing a “Person Search”. If you know more information

about the person you can do an “Advanced Person Search”. If you have

an SSN that is the best way to search. From either the “Person Search”

or “Advanced Person Search” pick which result seems to fit who

you are looking for and do a “Contact Card Report” and a “Relative,

Neighbors, & Associate Report”, PRINT these reports and/or save them as

a PDF for future use (it will charge you if you run the reports again).

*If you have a Family Connections account with Connect Our Kids

you can download your results directly into Family Connections.

Accurint will create a Lexis Nexis ID for people searched; document

the person’s Lexis Nexis ID, that way once you confirm that it is the

correct person, you can run more searches using the Lexis Nexis ID.

*If other tools/resources end up proving that the person you ran

Lexis Nexis reports that was NOT the correct person to run another

Contact Card Report and a Relative, Neighbors & Associate report

with new information. (Paid Membership)

Use Whitepages only after you have found a name, DOB, and location

of the person for whom you are looking. Whitepages can have great

information, but sometimes you need to know specifically where the

person is living in order for a result to appear, or you need to know

who their relatives are to know if you have a good match. You may

need to use an Assessor Search to find out if the address you find is

a good current address.

Google (Free)


Be creative. Sometimes you will yield results with very specific searching,

other times a more general search is best. Also, get creative with

what you want, try things like, “John Doe, legal documents.”

Try other search engines, sometimes different search engines give

different results:

Dogpile: (Free)

Use these websites for what they can give you for free. Often, they

will give relatives names, sometimes DOB, and addresses for free.

Do not pay for information from these sites, it tends to be sold as

“current” but can be up to 10 years old and not very helpful

Most of the above sites listed have limited free information so they

will try to get you to pay.

Social Media (Free)

Can be useful depending on privacy settings. *Refer to your organization

for rules on social media accounts.

Searches by State


Washington Digital Archives (Free)

Birth/Marriage/Divorce/Death/Cemetery Records/Recorded Agreements/Naturalization Records/Auditor Misc/Census/Institution/Land Records/Military/Oath of Office/Professional Licenses

*Great free resource, but some records can be ordered for a cost

as well.

WA Court Search (Free)

Some Court records are available online – mostly Pierce County.

These records can help find relatives. A lot can be learned

for free, but public records can be purchased.

Assessor (Free)

sor-and-treasurer-websites. Property records

Who is the taxpayer? Is the person you are looking for the owner

or a renter?

Washington Death Certificates (Free)

Anyone can order a death certificate in WA.

You can learn, full name, parent’s names/ DOB, DOD, Informant name,

cause of death

Other States:

Check to see if other states have a Digital Archives database

Check other States for a Court Search. Some have statewide

searching available, while others can only be searched in specific

counties. Some states call their counties parishes, boroughs, etc, so

sometimes you have to find out what a county is called in a specific

State to be able to do research there. You will find a variety

of information, some are very basic, while some places provide links

to legal docs. Again, you will have to find out what the counties are

called to do an Assessor Search.

Different States have different laws regarding Death Certificates.

Some States have a central place to request Death Certificates,

while others require you to contact the County where the death

is recorded.

Resources from Connect Our Kids users:

Arrests & recently booked individuals from most states:

When you find a new online resource, Share It with

Karen Coates at [email protected].

We love to hear about new good search resources!

* All information found on these sites (except Accurint, where

you must be approved for an account) is public, nothing legally

restricts you from having it. Treat all information with respect

and follow your agency’s guidelines for handling data.

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