Global Researcher Database

Global Researcher Database

Contract Management / Task Management / Global Database



One of the most exciting elements of the genealogical ERP system I built while at Ancestry was the Researcher Directory. This directory now includes over 5,000 contract researchers across the globe.



During the research process they rely heavily on contractors all over the world to assist in research and obtain historical documents from courthouses, archives, and libraries. Prior to creating the researcher directory, all of AncestryProgenealogists' research staff had no centralized database of contractors. Researchers would spend a great deal of time asking around the office to see if anyone knew of a contractor that could meet their needs.

After finding that contractor, the process took even longer to reach out the contractor, discuss availability and rates, and get the contractor set up in the Ancestry vendor management system. This whole process could have taken weeks to accomplish.


We knew that researchers had been keeping their own list of contractors over the years. We began by compiling those lists and identifying the important information they needed when looking for a contractor.

I then began working on some wireframes and mockups. After creating some basic concepts, I met with researchers to get their feedback on the approach we were taking.

After several iterations, we came up with some high quality prototypes and did more user testing. Next was the development of the new researcher directory.


In the end, the new researcher directory provides researchers with a go-to place when looking for a contractor. Some of the features and components in the new directory include:

Contractor Application

Potential contractors can go to the AncestryProGenealogists website and fill out an application to become a contractor. An application will trigger an internal review process where at least one genealogist will review the application and determine the business need and qualifications of the applicant. The genealogist can approve or deny the applicant. If approved, they are added to the directory and immediately searchable by employees.

Contractor Onboarding

When a contractor is approved and added to the database, that triggers another set of workflows to get the contractor onboarded. They are welcomed as new contractors, shared to some basic training and expectations resources, and a contract agreement is sent out via DocuSign to get them onboarded into the Ancestry vendor management platform.

Search by Location, Specialty, Contact Info

The best part of this new directory, for the genealogists, is the advanced search capabilities. Researchers can search for contractors by their contact info (name, phone, email, etc.). They can also search by location and research specialty.

The location search allows a researcher to either search for a location, library, archive, courthouse, etc., into a search field or zoom into a location on a map. For instance, if I wanted to find all of the contractors who could conduct research at the Library of Virginia, I could simply type "Library of Virginia" into the search field. The map would show the library, and below would be a list of contractors who specified on their profile that archive as a service.

Each contractor also has the ability to log into their own profile and update it at any time. They can identify their research specialties (i.e. location, time period, type of research). These updates immediately become available to all of the employees.


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