When RootsTelevision.com launched Unclaimed Persons this month, the hope was to bring attention to a virtually unknown epidemic, but also offer a potential solution. The epidemic? Literally unclaimed persons. Many of us are familiar with John and Jane Does, but very few are aware of the struggles of coroners' offices across the country to find the next of kin for the ever-growing number of people who are identified, but have no one to claim them. The solution? An unlikely teaming of coroners and genealogists working together to find the families of the unclaimed.
From the day the show launched, sympathetic and skilled genealogists started to tackle the unsolved case of John Finch that ended the Unclaimed Persons episode. One of them was well-known professional genealogist and author, Kimberly Powell. Thanks to Kimberly's genealogical detective skills, a case that had been open since 1999 was solved in just six days.
Are you interested in helping solve Unclaimed Persons cases? Join the Unclaimed Persons group on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=24101365049) to see our latest cases and learn how your research can help reunite families (those who are new to Facebook will need to register). Visit the discussion board to see our latest cases and to learn more about the process and guidelines for being a part of the project. We would be very grateful if you would join in the discussions here (believe me, we welcome your feedback and ideas!) and tell other folks about this group, the show -- and most importantly of all -- the problem.
Even if we don't crack every case, we like to think that just being aware of the problem will make at least a few people pick up the phone and call home -- even if they haven't done so in decades.
By the way, if you're new to Facebook and looking for your first "friends," please feel free to add Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak as one.