Researching your family tree can be an extremely rewarding experience. It helps you discover relatives and ancestors whom you may have been unaware of. On the other hand, genealogy research can also be very frustrating at times, when you cannot find the information you are seeking. Here are some tips that might help you get around your brick wall.
You may have heard the phrase “hitting the brick wall”. The phrase refers to the point in a project where, despite your best efforts, you cannot make any more progress towards your goal. In genealogy, people hit the “brick wall” when they are unable to find information about an ancestor. Here are some tips that may help you get around your brick wall.
Try an alternate spelling
There is a chance that the name of your ancestor is spelled differently than you expected it to be. Try changing the spelling and doing another search. For example, your ancestor’s surname might be spelled McClintock, or McClintick, or McClintic. Try an alternative spelling in your search and see what comes up.
This simple tip can also be used on common surnames. You might be certain that your ancestor’s surname was Smith. However, there is a chance that someone else misspelled it on an important document, ship’s registry, or census registry. Try searching for Smithe or Smythe.
Seek out original documents
It is best to seek out original documents and sources whenever possible. Avoid copying someone else’s research or family tree. That other person could have made mistakes. There is potential that your brick wall has appeared because you are trying to connect someone to your family tree who actually isn’t one of your ancestors.
Write your family history
Sometimes, the best way to get around a brick wall is to present things in a different format. Start writing down your family history. Write it in the form of a story or narrative and base it on what have confirmed through your genealogy research.
Look for gaps in the story. Those missing pieces may be exactly what you need to focus on. For example, let’s say you are having trouble finding an ancestor’s marriage certificate, but you know that she married a man she met when they were both attending the same college. That clue could indicate the town or city that where they got married. Backtracking could lead to the vital record you seek.
Have someone else check your research
It has been said that having “a fresh set of eyes” take a look at something can result in new insights. Ask a fellow genealogist to take a look at your brick wall. He or she might see something important that you hadn’t noticed.
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