Tips for Overcoming Your Brick Walls

Posted November 3, 2017 by Amanda | No Comment

Sometimes when you hit a brick wall in your genealogy research, you may feel like there is no hope in overcoming it. However, there may be a few things to try that you may have overlooked. Here are a few quick tips on how to overcome your brick walls:

Tips for Overcoming Your Brick Walls

Review what you have

Go back and review what you know about your ancestor. Take some time to to create a timeline during your review to get a better picture of your ancestor’s life. This is good not only to refresh your memory, but to also double check for any mistakes. Be sure to take a second look at all the documentation you have, too. Many times when we first look at documents, our eyes automatically search for names and dates. However, you may miss other valuable information and even overlook other people who may be mentioned in the document. Review your records to see if you missed any vital clues in your initial search.

Research other close relatives

If you’re stuck on an ancestor, take some time to research the person’s close relatives. Look into siblings and cousins because they may hold the answers that you are looking for. They may lead you to parents or grandparents or hints on where to continue your research.

If you find other names on an record for an ancestor, take some time to research those people, too. For example, a baptism record will typically include the names of godparents. Often, those godparents turn out to be relatives. Researching their names may turn up more family history information or clues for you to explore.

Take a DNA test

If you’re stuck, try taking a DNA test for genealogy. You never know what new surprises are in store. Perhaps you’ll get a DNA match to a relative that will finally bring down that brick wall!

Research nicknames

Names can be a tricky thing. Sometimes individuals may be listed in the historical record under their nickname rather than their given name. Try doing searches using nicknames or even different spelling variations. It’s not uncommon to find names with multiple spelling variations in historical records.

Ask the community

If you’re stumped, reach out to the genealogical community. Geni’s public discussions are a great place to seek advice and questions about your brick wall ancestor. Perhaps someone else may have suggestions on your next steps or even recognize the person you are searching for. Learn how to use public discussions to connect with the Geni community.

What advice do you have to bring down brick walls?

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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