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Busting Out
10/1/2004
Defy your research dead ends with these 31 time-tested brick-wall busters.

You've traced Great-great-grandpa Jonah back to the old country in the 1830s, but there the trail suddenly goes cold. Who are his parents, your third-great-grandparents? You haven't a clue. It's as though Jonah simply materialized out of thin air (or, just like his Biblical namesake, was spat out of a passing whale).

Maybe you've painstakingly documented Great-grandma Edna from one census back to the next, even working around that pesky burned 1890 enumeration. Then she and her whole family mysteriously disappear. They should be in the 1870 Kansas census — but they're not. What happened? Did a Kansas tornado sweep up poor Edna and carry her clan off to Oz?

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