There are some lines in my ‘”tree” that contain few confirmed ancestors. One of the ways I’ve found people and information is by connecting to “cousins”. I’ve done this through:

  • a public online tree at Ancestry.com
  • communicating with my known relatives
  • searching Facebook

What are some other strategies I can use?

3 Answers 3


Genealogists and family researchers use Google and the other search tools A LOT to find information about their families.

If you have your own blog or website, and can create one webpage with information about the family names and people and places you are researching (not all the info, just the high-level stuff), then that will get indexed by Google and the other search tools.

When people search for a certain rare family name, or a more common family name in combination with a given name or a place, your page will then show up on the various search tools and they will contact you.

This has worked very successfully for me. I get about 20 contacts a year from my site and several each year turn out to be relatives I hadn't communicated with before. In all cases, they are very interested in collaborating.

  • 1
    @lkesler - instead of a separate webpage, would it be inappropriate to have a se question accomplishing the same purpose? The faq and howtoaskagoodquestion shoud probably address this either way (ie make clear whether appropriate or not)
    – Duncan
    Nov 13, 2012 at 0:20
  • @Duncan - That would be a good thing, especially for those without their own website. The nice thing about a Stack Exchange site is that it gets indexed by the search tools rapidly and often shows up near the top of search queries, so people would be able to find the question if it has names/places in it.
    – lkessler
    Nov 13, 2012 at 0:39

Some other strategies to consider:

  1. besides ancestry.com consider the pando (one big tree) at werelate.org. If your ancestors are already present in that tree you will see other 'watchers' who are interested in that person and you can collaborate with them via the 'talk' page. If a particular ancestor is not present, enter your ancestor and others may find you in the future. I have found several cousins this way. Werelate is a free site run by the Allan Public Library (the second largest genealogical library in the United States).
  2. you might consider the Guild of One Name Studies. For any surnames already registered, you will have at least one person willing to help you. For surnames not yet registered, you can enter surnames you are interested in and have others with questions contact you for those names.
  3. myheritage is a site similar to ancestry and has 64M members and claims a more global reach than many other sites. As opposed to a pando, it is more like ancestry and focuses on individual accounts but like ancestry has collaboration tools and lets you find others interested in the same ancestor
  4. another site to consider is Geni which is a crowd sourced pando like werelate. It is a commercial site but you can still search it and do limited entry for free. Similar to werelate it has 'collaborators' for any given ancestor.
  5. another avenue to consider is the lineage and heritage societies. Obviously this only works for those ancestors who have them. But I've found there are many more of these societies than I would have thought. And although they wouldn't necessarily be cousins, the heritage societies (eg from a given war, or a given set of colonists) would also be willing to collaborate on that aspect of your ancestry.
  6. If you have any Scottish ancestors, most of the Clans have active societies around the world
  7. And last and far from least - don't forget genealogy.stackexchange. Ask questions about your ancestors (even the brickwalls) including the specifics of what you have and haven't found on a given ancestor. Besides getting it out to those of us already participating, its gets that information into google/yahoo/etc searches of others looking for information about that person. Not only will they potentially collaborate with you, they'll find out about this site!

I agree with your premise that finding people to collaborate with on a given ancestor is quite helpful. The sum is greater than the separate parts (akin the premise of stack exchange). The techniques above all worked for me in finding collaborators (some cousins, some just with common interests like members of the 18th Mass regiment in the US Civil War).

  • +1 I'm a big fan of the Guild Of One Name Studies, and G&FH SE of course!
    – PolyGeo
    Feb 27, 2015 at 7:08

Have you considered the people recorded in census returns as living "near" your known ancestors? In many cases, family members did not move too far away.

It can be worthwhile to select a few likely names from up the road or around the corner and run a search in Ancestry (or your choice of on-line provider). What you are looking for is not evidence that these people belong in your tree but the contact details of other family historians who are interested in them.

Even if there is no blood relationship between you, who knows what you could gain from another researcher interested in the same geographical location at the same period in history.

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