How To Find Your Long-Lost Friends

April 9, 2019

Granddaughter showing her grandmother something on laptop.

Do you ever think back to your high school days and wonder what happened to a good friend you never saw again after graduation? Or perhaps you were in the military and want to reconnect with the people who served in your unit. Maybe you lost touch with old co-workers years ago and think about what they might be up to these days.

People come and go in our lives all the time, but there are some we wish we’d held onto and stayed in touch with. If you find yourself in this category, there’s hope: today, finding your long-lost friends has never been easier. Here are some tips for starting the journey:

Collect and Gather Information

First things first: before you start, gather and organize all the information you have or can remember about your friend. Their full name, birthdate or approximate age, nicknames, past addresses or phone numbers, old schools, previous employers – all of this can help in your search. If you don’t have any of this information, don’t worry – there are still ways of finding someone. But the more info you have, the easier it will be.

Use Online Search Engines

You know about Google, but you may not know the most effective ways to search within it. Type in the name of your friend in quotation marks – such as “John Smith”– and then add any of the other details you may remember after that. “John Smith” San Francisco, for example. Or “John Smith” US Air Force 1955. You can comb through the results and see if your friend happens to pop up. And if you don’t have any luck with Google, lesser-known search engines such as Bing.com may yield different results.

Join Social Media

Nearly 68% of adults in the United States are on Facebook, and the share of older Americans on the site has doubled since 2012. Finding people is relatively easy on Facebook, and there are group pages on the site for high school graduating classes, military units, and more. And if you’re worried about online privacy, there are steps you can take on the site to make your profile more secure. You can learn more about online security at the Sterling Court computer classes offered every Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Bristol Room.

Join Alumni and Military Websites

Many high schools and colleges around the country have their own alumni websites, and there are also all-encompassing sites like Classmates.com that have several alumni classes to look through. Many of these sites have contact information for their members, too. For the military, there are many government websites that house old records, such as the National Archives. There are also sites like the “Buddy Finder” on Military.com that are the Armed Forces version of the school alumni sites. Some of these sites cost money to join, so be sure to search around for one that’s free of charge.

Try the Library

If going online doesn’t appeal to you, there’s an old-fashioned option that might work. ReferenceUSA is a database that provides the most up-to-date information you can find about people all over the country. The San Mateo Public Library has access to the service, and you can use it for free with your library card. Librarians will be able to help walk you through the process of searching for your friend, too.

With a little bit of effort, you’ll be reconnecting with your long-lost friends in no time!

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