Thursday, March 5, 2009

Using's Connection Service

I got an email from the other day saying that:

"Other Ancestry members are researching the same people you are and would like to contact you about their research. What is the connection service?

"'s new connection service lets members of the Ancestry community reach other members who have similar research interests and activities -- while maintaining their privacy. We make it easy to get in touch.

"Simply register with the Ancestry community. Then click on one of the many connection service links throughout the site to see a list of community members with research interests and activities similar to yours. The rest is history.

"Once you find a member of the community you want to communicate with, you can get in touch, compare notes and exchange stories through Remember, other members of the community only see your user name and any information you decide to share. Your identity always remains private."

Is this new? Here's a press release from 7 September 2005 (I think, I can't tell) that says about the same thing. I know that I filled out some of the information years ago, before I had a subscription. It's not clear to me what is "new" this month.

Being the inquisitive sort, and needing blog fodder, I decided to promote this Connection Service by checking out how it works. I'm going to do this from the point of an Ancestry Member (I'm a subscriber, but there are others who are Members - they are registered but cannot use the database services). I clicked on the "Community" tab on the home page, and this page appeared (3 screens below):

There are four major areas on this web page:

* Message Boards - lists the locality and surname Boards that I subscribe to, and provides a Search box for me to search all of the Boards.

* Member Connections - lists the Surnames that I have entered into this service; tells me how many Member Tree records there are, how many members are searching for the surname, and how many Members live in the locality. It also provides a Search box for member locations for the surnames and/or localities.

* Member Directory - search for members by Interests, Location/Age, Experience, Lineage, Languages Spoken, and Faith.

* My Member Profile - in the upper right hand corner.

I clicked on the link to my Public Member Profile and got this web page (two screens):

This has two main areas:

* My public Member profile - picture, description which I provided, and the About Me section with basic life information.

* Research Interests - a summary of the Research Interests that I have input in hopes somebody will find them.

* My profile and contact settings - I can edit my Profile here.

I clicked on the SEAVER surname in the Member Interests, and this screen appeared:

On this page, I found that four Members, including myself, have expressed a Member Interest in the surname Seaver. The Connection Service permits me to send an email to any of these persons through their service. I clicked on one of the persons and composed an email message:

When I send this email, it comes from, not me, and offers the recipient the opportunity to reply through the Connection Service. This is similar to the opportunity to connect through this service to owners of Private Member Trees.

I decided to look for Members who might have one of my other elusive surnames. For the "Houck" surname in Pennsylvania, I received this:

I could do the same thing here - send an email through the Connection Service to any of those Members inquiring about their Houck resources.

If you are NOT an Member (free or subscribed), then you need to register (name and email) in order to use the Connection Service. You can get as far as trying sending the email to an Ancestry Member before you have to register. Once registered, you can send the email, fill out a Member Profile, and submit your Research Interests.

This Connection Service is, I think, extremely valuable. Most of us are always looking for ways that we can connect to other researchers with similar surname and locality interests. This Service provides one way to do it, and it is very easy to do. has a significant number of Members, perhaps the second most "critical mass" of genealogy researchers on the Internet (I figure that has millions of LDS members who can connect on their service).

All Members should add surnames with localities to their Research Interests if they want to receive contacts from other researchers with the same interests. If you are not an Member, you should consider becoming one in order to use this Connection Service. You might just find the distant cousin that has information about your elusive ancestors.

1 comment:

Earline Hines Bradt said...

Randy,I have made a lot of connections from people viewing my family tree, but I didn't know about the research interests page, thanks.

I received an email today from them about DNA testing on sale, but I went to and they made it sound like the testing only revealed the parts of the world your ancestors "likely" came from, 10.000 years or more ago, no surnames. I didn't think it sounded very useful at all.