Alongside its collections of historical data, Ancestry.co.uk and Ancestry.com has a huge community of active members. The site makes it easy to search all of their online discussions, details of members themselves and their research interests, and of course the family trees that they save at the site. Your own family tree can be found by other people in the same way – but only the information you choose to make public. The main search engine, under the ‘Search’ tab, will search members’ information as well as historical records, or you can search and browse these sections separately.
You can use the site’s main search feature, under the ‘Search’ tab, to look through all member data. First make sure you are in ‘advanced’ mode by selecting ‘Show Advanced’ at the top of the form if it is present. Next try the ‘Restrict to’ options at the bottom if you don’t want to see historical records in the results, for example.
To search just the family trees that other members have saved at the site (public ones only), choose Public Member Trees under the ‘Search’ tab. As always, the more information you give, the fewer results there will be, but they will be more precise.
You can use the Preview feature from the results page to get a snapshot of what the records contain. Just hover your mouse over the names of trees in the list and a summary of the record will pop up at the right.
If you click on the tree name, you can then see the details of the record that relates to your enquiry. Note there is also an option to ‘find a person in this tree’ (top right) which you can use to limit a search to names only in this specific family tree.
If you’re browsing your own family tree at Ancestry.co.uk, you can look up any person in it in the site’s historical records by using the ‘Search for historical records’ link in the Source Information section at the right. This section also shows you which historical records have already been attached to the person in your tree.
The Member Connect feature also allows you to see whether other researchers are interested in the same individuals as you. If you connect to their trees, you can keep track as they enter more information about those individuals.
You can also search the directory of members to find people who might share your specific research interests. You can refine your search by location, surname, interests and other criteria, and then send them a private message.