A Smashing Time

By Allison Dolan Premium

You can’t deny it. The symptoms are all there:

? You plod around the house dejectedly, clutching your pedigree charts in hopes your elusive ancestors will reveal their whereabouts by osmosis.

? At breakfast, you start seeing passages from the county deed books in your Bran Flakes.

? You’re so distraught over your fourth-great-grandfather’s missing probate file (how could it just vanish?) that your spouse is pushing you to visit a therapist.

? In a final act of desperation, you hire a psychic to channel the spirits of your progenitors (along with the long-gone archivist who knows the fate of that probate file) so you can finally get some answers.

No doubt about it, you’ve got a serious case of the Brick-Wall Blues. Everything was going smoothly-your family tree chart was practically filling itself in!-until all of a sudden, you ran smack into a dead end. Now you’re distressed, despondent or at the very least, discouraged.

Cheer up: All genealogy buffs hit a brick wall sooner or later. As the editor of America’s most popular family history magazine, I’ve heard countless tales of lineages in limbo. The victims? Veteran researchers who’ve tapped every document they can think of but still can’t pick up their ancestors’ paper trails; newbies stuck at their great-grandparents because they have too few facts to go on; and everyone in between. In fact, when we ask Family Tree Magazine readers which topics they’d like us to cover, they consistently put brick-wall solutions at the top of the list.

If this problem is so pervasive, what’s the cause for celebration? Most genealogical dead ends can be overcome-if you know how to circumvent or plow through them, or avoid them altogether. To help you acquire that know-how, the editors of Family Tree Magazine are throwing a brick-wall busting bash, in the form of this special issue.

The 2006 Genealogy Guidebook features proven tips and techniques for conquering your toughest family history challenges (no psychics required). The festivities begin with a roundup of 37 easy ways to kick-start your research. Whether your obstacle is a burned courthouse, a mystery photo, or an ancestor’s name variations, you’ll learn how to hurdle it.

Our suggestions aren’t merely speculation: The advice in this Guidebook comes from experts who collectively have more than a hundred years of experience overcoming obstacles just like yours. We’ve packed its pages with pointers from the pros, including 12 tried-and-true methods they rely on, plus solutions to Family Tree Magazine readers’ most taxing problems.

So go ahead and join in the roadblock-smashing revelry. We’ll supply the hammers; you bring the noisemakers and balloons.

From the January 2006 Family Tree Magazine Genealogy Guidebook.