The FAN club is a term coined by renowned genealogist Elizabeth Shown Mills. “FAN” stands for “Friends, Associates, Neighbors”, and refers to researching the cluster of people who interacted with your ancestors. This principle is also called cluster or collateral genealogy. Researching people within this cluster can provide insights into your ancestors’ lives, as well as help answer thorny questions your direct research hasn’t been able to resolve (“I can’t find this guy ANYWHERE! Where the heck was he?” or “Which of the six John Smiths in this county is mine?” or “Who was Nathan Pyeatt’s (1787-1812) mother?”). The FAN club is a great tool for proving relationships, establishing identities, and busting through brick walls. Many printed and on-line resources contain case studies demonstrating how you can use records of friends, associates, and neighbors to obtain the answers you’re looking for. Some of the best case studies using the FAN...
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