Are you taking advantage of the collaboration features offered by a growing number of online archives? Connecting with research cousins is a great way to share the “personal” resources that are seldom available from a genealogy archive. Instead of moaning when Ancestry’s shaky leaf leads you to another user’s family tree, take a look at that tree to see if that user is researching the same family you are and then check to see if that tree’s owner is a serious researcher or just someone collecting names. If a serious researcher, tap/click the person’s username and Ancestry will take you to a screen giving you basic information about that person. You’ll also see a Send Message icon that opens an in-house message panel so you can contact that user.
It’s surprising how much help a research cousin can be. Some time back, a shaky leaf led me to a portrait of my third great grandmother, Frances. I followed that source to the researcher to ask if I could save a copy of the portrait. We chatted for a while to determine how we were related. I descend from Frances’ youngest child, William, while she descends from Frances’ only daughter, Georgiana. Then the bomb dropped. Georgiana kept a diary most of her adult life. My new cousin not only had the diary, but she had transcribed it and published it as a Kindle book on Amazon. It was a goldmine of information about this family and explained several things that would never be found in an archive.
Ancestry isn’t the only service offering collaboration features. FamilySearch is collaborative by design. Your tree is not your own and you will quickly find other researchers posting information on your ancestors. There is an internal messaging system to connect and collaborate with them. When reviewing matches in MyHeritage, you will find other users sharing your ancestors. As you see in the image above, there is a contact button with each confirmed match allowing you to connect with that user. MyHeritage has also just announced a new Inbox feature on their mobile apps which works like an in-house email service making it even easier to communicate with other members.
Connecting with research cousins doesn’t just help your research effort. It gives you access to others who are just as passionate about their family research as you are. Yes, there will be sloppy researchers hoping you will do the work for them, but there are also researchers who will be delighted to find research cousins who want to learn more about their ancestors and share what they know.
You will soon find that collaboration can be a wonderful thing.