HOW DO I BECOME A MEMBER?
To join Unclaimed Persons, you must first Register. As part of the registration process, you will be asked to agree to the Forum Rules and Unclaimed Persons Member Agreement. You will also be asked to provide your Email address, your real first and last names, and other pertinent information that will become a part of your member profile.
WHAT INFORMATION DOES THE VOLUNTEER UNCLAIMED PERSONS TEAM NEED TO SUBMIT A CASE TO A MEDICAL EXAMINER, CORONER OR INVESTIGATOR?
The information needed is fairly intuitive:
1. names of relatives
2. contact information for relatives
3. nature of relationship
4. how the relationship was determined (e.g., listed as survivors in a mutual parent’s obituary)
Not surprisingly, there is a strong preference for close relatives such as siblings, parents, spouses, and children, but more distant relatives (such as first cousins) are acceptable, provided we have made reasonable attempts to find those more closely related.
Since volunteers can’t actually contact relatives to confirm addresses and phone numbers, it’s a good idea to include all contact details that you find and mention which one you think might be most likely. Also, because we’ve become such a mobile society, it’s best to include information for several relatives, and the various addresses that are associated with them. This gives the submitting agencies alternatives to work with in case the contact information for one person doesn’t pan out. This also keeps the back-and-forth communication between the submitting agency and Unclaimed Persons to a minimum so we both can do our respective work.
Since we are a volunteer group, it may seem unreasonable to set such high standards, but we don’t want a single family called in error due to our work. And we want to do our best to be an asset to submitting agencies, rather than adding to their already considerable responsibilities.
WHY SHOULDN’T I NOTIFY THE DECEDENT’S FAMILY?
We are helping the medical examiners, coroners and investigators in an unofficial capacity and it is their responsibility to notify the family. They have put their trust in us to assist them without overstepping our bounds, and leave to them what they have been trained to do.
WHY SHOULDN’T I NOTIFY THE CORONER DIRECTLY?
When the Unclaimed Persons show first aired, several coroners’ offices (particularly those with online databases) were overwhelmed with submissions. While they welcome incoming information, it became difficult for some of them to manage this sudden influx in conjunction with their current case load. This is, in fact, part of what prompted the establishment of the Unclaimed Persons volunteer group.
We ask that you participate in the group and allow the case managers to notify medical examiners, coroners and investigators. This is a courtesy that prevents them from being inundated with communications containing identical or partial information from multiple sources.
DO I HAVE TO BE A GENEALOGIST TO PARTICIPATE?
No, but it helps! Medical examiners, coroners or investigators typically have access to information that others don’t – for instance, some police-related databases. What seems to make genealogists useful is our knowledge of less obvious resources that can round out the family information already available to submitting agencies. But anyone with an interest is welcome to join. Our researchers typically have access to tools such as Ancestry.com, GenealogyBank.com, newspaper archives and other online subscriptions related to genealogical research. We also use many publicly available online databases.