The best way to find out if two people are related is to trace the family tree of each person and look for a common ancestor. This question often comes up when people are trying to determine if they are related to someone famous or if they are related to someone with the same surname, etc. To trace one's family tree, you start in the present and work back to the past, identifying the parents and children of each generation until you find a common ancestor. Once you have identified a common ancestor, you can check a relationship chart to see how the two people are related.
In researching one's family tree, there are many types of records that indicate family relationships, including birth, marriage, death, census, wills, probate, church records, DNA tests, etc. Birth, marriage, and death records may indicate the parent names; other family members may have served as witnesses or informants, but the relationship may not be specifically defined. Census records, on the other hand, may list everyone in the household, depending on the census year; church records and family Bibles may provide information on the parents and children and possibly other family members. Wills, probate, and guardianship records are also valuable in identifying family relationships. DNA tests can indicate the probability of a relationship, depending on the type of DNA test.
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