Tutorial: The Ancestry.com Member Directory
Researching our ancestors often requires collaboration from other researchers. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Have you had the experience of attending a genealogy event in person? If you have, then you know some of the best learning and inspiration comes from talking with other researchers. You compare notes. You share your successes and your brick walls.
Your next research inspiration comes from something another researcher says.
Outside of a conference, where do you find other genealogy researchers with the same interests or researching the same lines?
How to Use the Ancestry.com Member Directory
Note: Most of the large genealogy databases have a type of member directory to facilitate research connections. Explore the member and/or community features of your database of choice.
The Ancestry.com Member Directory allows a user to find other researchers who share the same research interests. These interests include both surname research and location research.
Let’s take a look at how to use the Ancestry.com Member Directory to find other researchers.
This post contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.
Find the Member Directory under the Search tab on the Ancestry.com homepage.
Click “Member Directory”.
From the Member Directory, you can search Ancestry.com’s community in two ways.
If you know the name or the user name of a member, simply type that into the “Find a specific member” box on the left.
In this example, I used my own user name: secondcupofcoffee. [Don’t judge – I love my coffee! 🙂 ] As you see, I show up in the results on the right.
Clicking on the User Name will take you to their profile page. Here’s mine:
On the profile page you will find the researcher’s
- Interests – Surnames and locations
- Recently Added Content – Photos and documents uploaded by the researcher.
- Ancestry Public Trees – Only the public trees will be listed. Family trees marked “Private” will not appear here. (My larger and more comprehensive family tree is private and not listed here.)
- Favorite Message Boards – Find what messages and information is shared on the Ancestry message boards by the researcher.
If you are looking for other researchers researching a specific surname and/or location, use the next box over.
In this example, I am searching for others who are researching the Talbots of Virginia. [If you are a Talbot researcher, contact me.] The search can be further narrowed down by year, but for my purposes, I usually leave the “year” blank.
The above search yielded these results.
The search returned 5 other researchers whose research interests include the Talbots of Virginia. Clicking on each one I can explore any information they have shared publicly such as family trees, photographs, etc.
I can then contact another researcher through Ancestry.com‘s messaging system by clicking the orange Contact button in the upper right hand corner of a member’s profile.
Now It’s Your Turn!
If you are an Ancestry.com user, explore the Member Directory for other researchers with your research interests. Reach out and jump start your research.
If you use a different genealogy, take the time to learn how to use their community features. Then reach out to someone there with your similar research interests.
Other posts of interests:
- Tutorial: How to Research Your Ancestor With a No-Surname Search
- Tutorial: Using Ancestry.com’s Card Catalog
- How To Research Your Common Surname Ancestors
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I have met up with cousins that I didn’t know about or had a vague recollection of by contacting people who had a tree on Ancestry (not exactly the focus of your article). I have learned a lot of information from them and some of them have become genealogy buddies.
Shirley, I think that’s fantastic! Making connections is not only enjoyable, but it is a very good think for our research.
I was able to find and connect to a first cousin, a daughter of my father’s sister, using Member Connect. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but I knew nothing about my father’s family. She has been able to provide so much information beyond what is found in records. I will always cherish the stories and memories she has shared with me. And she lives only a day’s drive from my home! What a remarkable find. Thank you.
Sherry, what an excellent example of using the member directory. Congrats on finding your cousin. That’s a huge find!
I have been using NodeXL, an Excel template, to sort through my AncestryDNA Matches. As I find matches, I look up the Member in the Member Directory. Strangely, may of these people do not show up. Fortunately, NodeXL includes links to the members. Since I know these people exist, I now find that I have lost a lot of the confidence I once had in the search function of the Member Directory.
I’m not familiar with NodeXL, but I definitely want to check it out. You bring up a good point about the search function on Ancestry. The thing I have trouble with Ancestry’s member directory is finding people when their username is not their name or anything close to their name. Typing in someone’s name does not mean we can find that specific person. I wish there was a better way around that.
Joseph Mashek (Masek)
Yes, am trying to contact a researcher named Dobromila Jakesova. She has matched my family tree to other Masek’s in Czech Republic, Plzen area. I know there are many Masek’s in C.R. and I do NOT speak czech, just know few words. I have the family tree, so only little work has to be done. Can you help me or send me her personal email address? Thank you,
Joe Mashek (Masek).
* My family came from Robicie #9. Went there 3 years ago but no Masek’s live there. There are several in Plzen area.
Thank you for any help possible.