Online Family History; How to get past the Brick Wall

Getting started in researching your family history can be a daunting step to take on your genealogical journey. However, starting with a few common queries can really get you going and open up a new world of family history, relationships and maybe something intriguing!

When searching for family records, we input ‘terms’ into our search engine to try and get the best results returned. Let’s look at a few of these ‘terms’ to help you get the most from your time on a search engine:

Birth Records, Marriage Records, Ships Passenger Lists, Surnames, Census Records, Immigration Records, Cemetery Records and War Records

Give any one of these ago and append each with a specific term to your search, for example “Birth Records Sussex 1942” or “Ships Passenger list Portsmouth April 1910”. Each time you search, a new result will give you a new resource to explore. Make sure you bookmark anything of interest on your browser for reading later on. Now we are narrowing down our searches, we can get even more specific, for example; from the search “Ships Passenger List April 1910” we may have discovered a ship that left from Portsmouth in April 1910 called The Havana destined for Cuba. The next logical search may be “Surname Passenger list The Havana April 1910”. This should bring you very close to the record of your relative.

Break-through the ‘Brick-Wall’

Breaking through ‘brick-walls and dead-ends’ in genealogy research is something that even the most-seasoned of family history researchers come up against. Why not try these tips to get through a brick wall?

Try searching for records via land and property records or military records in Commonwealth or overseas territories, and – a tough one to do but try – criminal records or bankruptcies and insolvency records.

Look in the records of Genealogy societies for the surname you are looking up, the field of business, profession, country/county they may have been in last.

It is very easy to forget, in this modern day and age with technology certainly cultivating our lives, about the more traditional methods of searching. Physical books and records can be found in local libraries. They may not be as accessible as its online counterpart, but it may contain some information that Google couldn’t tell you.

Searching for ancestral records from the comfort of your own home is definitely one of the best advances in the last decade or so, however let’s not lose sight of how these records began – on paper!

If you have exhausted the tips above, try taking your research back to its roots and review your findings against good old fashioned sources such as your local council registry office. They should have records of birth, death and marriage certificates or specific records such as the Index to Register of Passport Applications 1851-1903 held via The National Archives Kew which holds 1,000 years of British and Commonwealth records!

The best tip for achieving success when searching for your family history is to persevere and not give-in at the first obstacle. The information you require is out there, and part of the fun is finding the right key to unlock it.

Our Forum

If there is something that you can’t find online or in your local county registry office, then there is one more alternative. Our forum users have accumulated numerous records throughout their searches, and may have come across exactly what you are looking for! All you need to do is sign up for a free account and ask away! Remember, to gain the most out of our forum, you should follow these simple steps!