03 February 2015

Relative Finder - FHTL part 1

This morning I was reading the GenealogyBlog by Leland and Patty Meitzler. They had a post about a new tool developed by the BYU Family History Technology Lab. The lab is a part of the Computer Science Department at BYU and is run by professors Dr. Sederberg and Dr. Barrett. They employ around 10 students who research and develop family history programs. The lab's goal is to try to lower the entry barrier into family history. All of their products are free to use.

Relative Finder

The Projects page of the FHTL website lists six projects that are currently in the works. The first project I checked out is called Relative Finder. This application allows you to see how you are related to other people’s friends, coworkers, historical figures, and more!



My wife's maiden name is Jackson, we also named one of our sons Jackson. This year in school my son is studying Presidents of the United States and he asked me if he was related to Andrew Jackson. We tried to search my wife's family line and could not connect him through our known Jacksons. Using Relative Finder I noticed that my side of the family is related to Andrew Jackson and he is my first cousin 8 times removed.


A click on the view link on Andrew Jackson's line brings up a descendant tree from our common ancestor. There are several generations between us but it is interesting to see how we are related.

You can search any of the built in groups on the web app which include:
  • Book of Mormon Witnesses 
  • Constitution Signers 
  • Current Apostles 
  • Deceased Apostles 
  • Declaration Signers 
  • Early LDS 
  • Eight Witnesses 
  • European Royalty 
  • Famous Americans
  • Famous Europeans 
  • Famous LDS 
  • Famous Writers 
  • Hodgett Wagon 
  • Hunt Wagon 
  • Joseph Smith Papers 
  • LDS Pioneers 
  • LDS Hymn 
  • Martin Handcart Company 
  • Mayflower 
  • Military Explorers 
  • Mormon Battalion 
  • Past Seventies 
  • Prophets 
  • Prophets Wives 
  • Reformers 
  • Rescuers 
  • Science Technology 
  • Seventy 
  • Three Witnesses 
  • U.S. Presidents 
  • Willie Handcart Company
You can also create a custom group where you can search for relationships for friends or coworkers. I remember that Family Search posted a similar link on their page to find this type of information. I an not sure if it was this tool or something similar but it is a great way to introduce people who are new to Family History to their relatives and the fun possibilities they can find through their own research.