Finding Lost Classmates, Lost Family Members, or Lost Lovers - Tips and Tricks 
By Herb Halling


There are dozens of ways to find lost classmates/  Some of them are old techniques and some are using cutting edge technology.  in the early years we would find a classmate that was a police officer and he would check police records for classmates, however that tended to locate trouble makers that had been arrested and the technique was not in compliance with Police Department policy for use of police records.  I personally missed 1 reunion because I was never arrested and did not have a police record.  Another method is if you have a property appraiser in your reunion committee with access to public property records.  However here again you are limiting yourself to property owners.  Today with computers and online search programs, you can find almost anybody you want.  The only drawback is if they have a common name like John Smith, there are just too may candidates.

There are free search web sites like but in recent years they are limiting the amount of detail information on the classmate and encouraging you to subscribe to a more detailed service.  I tend to use them to confirm who is living a a particular address which is a free service but no phone numbers are given.  You can also enter a phone number and find the name and address.  If you enter a name, it will give you possibly 1/2 dozen people with the same name, their address, but to view the details on this person you need to purchase a report.

Next is ZabaSearch which is similar to white pages.  If you enter a phone number it tells you if it is a landline or cellular, but the name and address are available for a fee.  If you enter a name of a classmate that is not too common, it gives you the DOB, some new and old addresses, and possibly a phone number with an obsolete area code.  There is a link to purchase a more detailed report on the classmate.  Personally I only use Zaba to learn who s living at a specific address, and it tends to be relatively current information.

At the other end of the spectrum are full service web sites such as PeopleFinders where you pay a monthly fee of about $39 and get access to hundreds of classmates by entering their name, city, state, age, and birthdates if known.  They will tell you everyone with that name or a similar name, their age, some email addresses, business associates, possible relatives , and possible roommates.  There are phone numbers but most of them have been disconnected and replaced with cell phone numbers.  I find PeopleFinders one of the best web sites to start your search.  Then I may use AzbaSearch or WhitePages to confirm who is living at a particular address or registered to a phone number.  PeopleFinders can provide criminal records, marriage, birth and death records and sometime a photo off the person.

PrivateEye is another good subscription service very similar to PeopleFinders in what they offer.  In addition to the above listed for PeopleFinders, PrivateEye also lists property records and bankruptcies and liens.  One nice feature is it lists social profiles, classmates, Images, Videos, Blogs, News, Wikipedia, and Amazon for any mention of the classmates.

In recent years social media web sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin and others have become good sources to search for classmates.  Just type in a classmates name and see what pops up.  Frequently you will get an email address or a method of sending them a message to your classmate or one of their siblings.  

Death records are an important source of information..  Using they search over 800 national and international newspapers plus the US Social Security Death Index to provide the most timely obituary information available. was originally established to search family trees and identify relatives.  But recently it has become an invaluable source of information of locating classmates.  It includes the Social Security Death Index, Historical Newspapers, birth, marriage and death announcements 1851 to 2003 and many English sources of information.

An old source that may have outlived its usefulness is  They list all the high schools and  all the classmates that have ever registered with classmates.  The problem is they were charging too much and few people renewed and the contact information became old.  If the classmate does not chek for current messages, the web site is useless.

I am sure that if I searched for more resources they would be plentiful, however they all boil down to one important point.  They are there to sell information and most of the time it is full of errors or out of date.

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