You've read stories about how Brad Pitt is related to President Obama, and you ask yourself, how do they do that? Here's an answer -- through BYU Digital Roots.
Relationship Finder (now called Relative Finder) does exactly that -- finds relations between people using an "Ancestral File Number" (AFN). It will find if you are related to famous and historical people, and it can even find out if you are related to your neighbor or your spouse! Yes, that could happen -- as it did for my Mom and Dad (distantly related, of course!).
One caveat: You must start with an Ancestral File Number (AFN), and the Relative Finder is only as good as the information contained in the Ancestral File.
Where do I get an AFN number? Ancestral File is one of the original databases available via www.familysearch.org. Ancestral File was user-submitted files collected for many years, and each individual was assigned an AFN number. It is that number that you will use to perform the Relative Finder.
How do I find an Ancestral File Number for an ancestor? Go to www.FamilySearch.org and click on the Advance Search. Select "Ancestral File," and perform your search. You might have to search several different family names to see if you can find a relative in the Ancestral File. Once you find an AFN number for an ancestor, try inserting into Relative Finder and see if they can connect you to anyone. Sometimes Relative Finder might not have a connection for the name you entered, so try entering another name.
I used my grandmother's name for my search and had immediate success (since my family has been doing genealogy for generations). I know that her line goes back quite a ways, and it was a good pick. Here's some of the results (see snippet below):
I never knew that my grandmother had royal grandparents, nor that she was 6th cousin 11 times removed to William Shakespeare!
Don't be discouraged if you can't find an AFN number of a relative, or the AFN number you do find does not produce any results under Relative Finder. BYU Digital Roots has plans for a new version of Relative Finder that will work with the new ID format of the new.familysearch.org site. And, they are also advertising that Relative Finder will also be available in Facebook. I hope that is soon!
This is a fun little tool that will impress your kids and extended family members. Give it a try!