by Patrick Riley, Genealogist

Family Tree Search

​When you want to find out if a person is in a family tree on Ancestry, you have to use all or some of the information you have to fill in the blanks on the family tree search form. If you do not have much information, you should try and find the family on a census record to get more information.

The most successful searches are when you have the person’s first and last name, year and state where they were born, and the name of a family member such as father, mother, or spouse. If you are not so sure where they were born, do not be afraid to put in your best guess. If you can find the family on a census record when the person was young, they were probably born in that state.

Having the name of a family member will help you find the correct person if you have to leave out the state where they were born. The more difficult person to find in a family tree is when you do a search on a married woman and you do not know her maiden name. Most women are listed by their maiden name in genealogy data bases so you put in their first name, year of birth, and state of birth. For a family member, use the last name of their spouse.

On some occasions, a person is not found in a family tree but other family members are in a family tree. To find them, try searching for the parents by listing the father’s data. For a family member, use the first name of his spouse. In some cases, when you find a brother or sister that is married, you can find just them in a family tree.

The reason you cannot find some family members that are married into a family is that the person with the family tree just lists people out to a second or third cousin. Then they do not look for the spouse's family. When you find that situation, you want to trace the person’s family back to make sure they are the correct person.

Finding a Married Woman in a Family Tree
Finding a married woman in a family tree when you have limited data can be hard because she should be listed by her maiden name. Let’s start with a woman with the following data: Jane Smith, b. 1842 Ohio married to John R. Smith, b. 1840 Morgan County, Ohio

Here is your best option on data to enter for your search:  John Smith, born 1840 Ohio, U.S.A., Spouse, first name Jane. Check your results for a John Smith born in Morgan County married to a Jane born about 1842. Another situation is when you have Jane Smith, b. 1842 Ohio married. No first name for the spouse. Enter data: first name Jane, born 1842 Ohio, spouse last name Smith. Another option is to try Jane Smith, b. 1842 Ohio spouse last name Smith. Sometimes people will add the married name of a woman when they do not know her maiden name.