You probably have at least one unanswered genealogy question, an ancestor who’s really difficult to trace, or a family with gaps in their timeline.
These classic brick wall-busting tips come from our upcoming Conquer Your Research Challenges: Solutions and Advice to Overcome Your Genealogy Problems one-week workshop:
- Consult genealogy guides. A “brick wall” is often a case of not knowing about all the genealogical records available for the time and place your ancestor lived. More types of historical records exist than most of us realize (download our free Records Checklist for examples). Borrow a genealogy guide from the library; check out Family Tree Magazine‘s state and city genealogy research guides, as well as our ethnic heritage research guides; and look into joining the local genealogical society.
- Go over what you’ve found. Reviewing and organizing your records is a way to spot new clues. Also consider whether one of your sources could contain wrong information, or even whether you have a record for a same-named person who isn’t actually your relative.
- Write it up. Many genealogists abstract information from their records and/or write up research reports to help themselves process the information and draw conclusions.
- Create a timeline. Using your records to create a detailed timeline for the problem ancestor can help you sort out a confusing jumble of events and zero in on gaps in your research.
- Follow the people in your ancestor’s life. The records of your ancestor’s siblings, other relatives, friends, neighbors and coworkers might name your family.
- Explore social history. Learning about the lives of other people who were like your ancestor (maybe they immigrated from the same place or lived in the same neighborhood) can help you form theories about your ancestor’s life. You’ll also learn how local events may have affected your ancestor.
The Conquer Your Research Challenges one-week workshop includes eight 30- to 60-minute video courses (which you can download to watch again and again) to show you strategies for tackling brick wall problems. You’ll also get expert advice on your research problems via our exclusive workshop message board, networking with other researchers, and our 101 Brick Wall Busters ebook.
It takes place online May 23-30. See the video session lineup and register here.