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New Website May Link Descendants With Plantation Records, Records of the Slave Trade
Free Website May Link Descendants With Plantation Records, Records of the Slave Trade

A new, free website called LostCousins may just be the key to reuniting African American families torn apart by planter migration and the domestic slave trade, which separated hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans and African Americans from their families in the decades between 1820 and 1860.

Over time, the memories of loved ones taken or left behind may have faded, leaving descendants with no knowledge of family in a faraway place.

Now, a new website may connect families who were separated in ages past.

It's simple to use: if you know the names of your great grandparents and can locate them on the 1880 census, the simple but amazingly accurate technology at LostCousins can help you connect with family members who are also researching your family tree.

The LostCousins website has a unique system that identifies living relatives who share the same ancestors automatically, confidentially, and with close to 100% accuracy. Newfound cousins may communicate through the website anonymously until such time as they choose to share contact information.

Please read on, to view the announcement written by the LostCousins web site operators and reported in Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter:

LostCousins - A New Approach to US Genealogy

Who better to help you research your family tree than someone who shares the same ancestors?

The LostCousins website has a unique system that identifies living relatives who share the same ancestors automatically, confidentially, and with close to 100% accuracy.

Recognising that everyone has their own approach to research, and that the very flexibility of the GEDCOM format means that no two files are alike, LostCousins spotted the potential of census data as a way of simply and accurately linking together people who share the same ancestors.

And to ensure that as many people as possible have access to the census data, LostCousins focuses on censuses that are available at the free FamilySearch website.

It's a very simple system - but one that's amazingly powerful. LostCousins members enter brief details for their relatives taken from the census transcripts, then click the Search button. Matches with other members who share the same ancestors are identified within seconds, and - because the data is saved - to search again at any point in the future requires little more than a click of the Search button!

Although LostCousins is new to the US, the system is tried and tested - thousands of researchers with British ancestry have found living relatives through the site since it first opened. The accuracy has been amazing - only a handful of incorrect matches have been reported.

LostCousins was founded in 2004 by Peter Calver, a British researcher who has visited the US more than 40 times over the past quarter of a century. He stills runs the site, and is really excited about this latest expansion: "This is the moment I've been waiting for! With the addition of the US we now cover most of the English-speaking world - it's an amazing opportunity for our members to discover living relatives without having to work through hundreds of false leads".

Using data from just one census is like taking a snapshot of a family tree. And because everyone takes the snapshot at the same time - 1880 in the case of the US census, or 1881 for Britain and Canada - the sophisticated software behind the LostCousins site can quickly identify people who share the same ancestors, even if those ancestors died long before 1880.

Registration and basic membership of LostCousins are completely free. However there are advantages to becoming a paying subscriber, and to celebrate the addition of the US census members who enter the code 1776 when registering will receive a free upgrade to subscriber status that lasts until April 30, 2007.

The LostCousins website can be found at:

About Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter: For the last 11-plus years, Dick has pursued his mission through an online periodical he writes every day, simply called "Eastmanís Online Genealogy Newsletter." He loves to share technology "finds" that can help both new and seasoned genealogists, as well as dethroning the scams and shams that can lead the unwary astray.

You may subscribe to the free version of the newsletter by visiting the Standard Edition subscription page.

Copyright 2004 The University of South Florida and The Africana Heritage Project. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. For more information, contact the Africana Heritage Project via e-mail.