Using Ancestry Tree Tags to Research by Location

Using Ancestry Tree Tags to Research by Location

We were talking about international research on Ancestry Family History Friday’s (you can see the video here) and when I was putting together my talk it got me thinking about how we research our families.

When I look at my family tree it shows that my ancestors come from only a few different areas of the world. 

However their descendants went a little bit further afield.

When we are researching this is mainly by person, which is great if we are concentrating on one line of our family tree, but what other ways could we research our family history?

What if we want to research by location?

If you use Ancestry to host your family tree and research, then you can search your tree by person, but you can’t search your tree by location. If you have your family tree also on a computer program then you may be able to search by location (I know I can in Brother’s Keeper) and get family associated with that location.

Yes, hints will tell if there are new records for a person within the record collections on Ancestry, but again these are person specific and within a long list of hints you have to remember to go back to a person again to see the latest hints.

So the cunning plan is to use the Ancestry Tree Tags and set up some custom tags for locations.


Ancestry Tree Tags are found on the profile page for a person in your family tree. You'll find the blue icon under the birth and death dates. Click on this to add one. There are a number of pre-definied tree tags, but we're going to create a Custom Tag.


For George Urquhart, I set up one for Canada Ontario. I’ll then add other areas in Canada as I find relatives linked to those areas. I will also set one up for Scotland Aberdeenshire and tag George with it.

I've started with the country name and then the county/state name, as that way they will sort alphabetically by the larger area first. 

When I search my family tree I can then filter by the custom tags to get a list of all the relatives in that location.

You can only filter by one tag at a time, but it's a great place to start. 

At this stage there is no easy way to print a list of all of the family linked to a location, but at least I can find them.

Now when a new record collection arrives for Ontario, Canada, on Ancestry (or elsewhere), I can search these collections for the family members by location and look for the hints that match the collection.

Likewise if I am travelling to a location to visit relatives, archives, libraries, cemeteries etc, I can filter a list and know who I need to research.

So have a go and add some custom tags for your locations.


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If you're interested in more tools for tracking your research, have a look at our guide on Using Spreadsheets for Tracking Research.



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