How to Get Around Those “No Family Tree” Cousins on AncestryDNA

5718897981_10faa45ac3_zNo family tree? No problem.

If you’ve done DNA testing on, you’ve probably already discovered that many of your cousins don’t have a public, viewable tree. Since Ancestry has no chromosome browser, no “in common with” feature, and no other analysis tools, you’re pretty much out of luck if you can’t find a tree. You can contact the cousin via private messaging and see if they’ll respond, but that doesn’t always work (in fact, it’s worked exactly once for me).

Now, I get why people choose not to have public trees. I don’t have a public tree either, and I don’t plan to put one up in the foreseeable future. I’ve been poking around, though, and I’ve discovered that many of my matches listed as “no family tree” actually DO have public trees. In some cases, they have a bunch of them. They’re just not connected to their DNA results.

Here’s how to find out whether your AncestryDNA cousin has a tree:

  1. Make a note of the username of your match. That’s the name listed right above “Possible range: 4th to 6th cousins” or whatever.
  2. At the top of your Ancestry screen, there’s a menu bar. Put your mouse on “Collaborate,” then choose “Member Directory” from the dropdown menu.
  3. You’ll see the Search the Ancestry Member Directory Screen. It defaults to the “Research Interests” tab, but click on “Basic Information” instead. Then type in the username and click “Search.”
  4. On the search results page, you’ll see your cousin listed. Click the link to see that cousin’s profile. You might not see much of value…but often, you’ll find public trees, message board posts, recently added content (including photos), and all kinds of other information. If there are public trees, you can check them to see if you have any connections.

I always like to do as much legwork as I can before I actually contact a new cousin. Often I can figure out a possible connection even before we’ve been in touch. That cuts way down on the back-and-forth emails that say silly things like, “Do you have any Smiths?” The less this whole process resembles a game of Go Fish, the better.

Photo by Thomas Tolkien

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