Your Brush with Greatness

Question: My surname is Adams. My great-grandmother was from Massachusetts, and at family reunions when I was little, she would tell all the grandchildren that we were related to Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams. How can I prove this?

John Quincy Adams (National Institute of Standards photo)
John Quincy Adams

Answer: There are many sources of family history for notable families such as the Adams family, as well as several books on the genealogy of all presidential families. However, before you dive into presidential genealogy head-first, you need to follow basic genealogical rules. Start with yourself and work back generation by generation, checking all available records. If you find, as you get back to the earliest immigrants, that in fact you are related to the presidential Adams family, that’s terrific! However, whether you’re cousin to a president, or to Wednesday and Pugsley Adams (they spelled it Addams, by the way), you’ll have fun finding them. Your family history is likely full of interesting stories, no matter whom you’re descended from.

If you do find (or suspect) a connection to a presidential family, you can easily search our Online Catalog for books about presidential families using these keywords:

presidents genealogy

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