Finding People

(See-also Directories, links to a number of online directories.)

There are many directories that make it possible to find old friends and acquaintances.
Many of these directories are online. Most online directories are convenient, easy to use, free of charge, and give immediate results (or immediate disappointments).

To find people: Look in the directories! When one directory fails, try another. A little determination can make the difference. Lastly, you can mention their name(s) in a webpage or in a forum, in case they search on their own name(s), or in case someone reading the webpage knows that person and helps pass the information.

To get found yourself, you should List yourself in the appropriate directories. Keep a record of your usernames and passwords. Try to update your published information when needed. By making yourself easy to find, you can help your reunion find others, by saving them some time.

Types of directories

There are alumni directories for most organizations. Most common are high schools, and they are usually sorted by year. In this context, even a common name can be a sure find, if the organization and year match.

General directories or White Pages try to list everyone in a country or in the world. Some online directories consist of consolidated White Pages telephone directories for the entire country. Some directories only list people who sign up. Some directories merge the telephone directory listings and the people who sign up. Listings are usually sorted or selected only by name or region. Uncommon names can be an easy find, but common names can be a hopeless search. Age information is not usually available.

There are some all-schools alumni directories. Some of these cover all groups as well -- workplace, military unit, congregations, clubs. Some of these act as general directories as well -- they allow for search by name and age, independent of associations.

The WorldWide Web itself can also be used as a general directory -- if someone publishes a webpage with their own name on it, that person can usually be found by using a Search Engine.

Searching tips:

When using white pages like Switchboard [ ] and WhoWhere [ ]:
Use at least two directories that are not "powered-by" the same database or underlying "engine".
When there are separate e-mail search and phone listing search, try both.

When using Search Engines like Google [ ] and AltaVista [ ]:
Use at least two search engines that are not "powered-by" the same database or underlying "engine".
Type the name in quotes. "William Smith". Try at least one variation. "Billy Smith". "Will Smith". Try adding the middle name or initial if known. To get the last chance at odd lists that turn up online, try again with the name "the other way" - "Smith, William". And the variations. It can be a lot of work.
Try entering two-part surnames names in both variations - "Fran DiBlasi" and "Fran Di Blasi"
Use quotes in your search to force the search to match phrases instead of separate words.
Try adding additional items to the search that might match and narrow down the results. "Fran DiBlasi" Division or "Fran DiBlasi" Levittown

When using alumni directories:
Look for good friends of the person who might have kept in touch.
Look in other years for possible siblings. Be courteous if you write.
Write to listed others in the same year and ask.

"Do you remember those nights hanging out at the Village Green?"

last edited 2005.04.18

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