Brickwalls: How to get past them?

Brickwalls: How to get past them?

‘Brickwall’ is a genealogical term meaning that you have hit a dead-end when it comes to your genealogical research; for whatever reason that may be. It is very easy to be intimidated by this but it is vital that you do not give up when you hit one (everyone hits one at some point). We have some tips to help you overcome this brickwall and keep you on your journey about uncovering your ancestors:

1. Re-examine what you’ve already discovered

A very good first step to take when you initially hit a brickwall is to look back at what you have already uncovered. Going back over what you have not only gives you context on how far you’ve come, but could also give you a clue as to where to go next. Check for clues in what you have gathered now and see if there are any more potential new leads.

2. Search all available sources
Another way to overcome your brick wall is to broaden the horizons. Check every single resource you are able to get your hands on; certificates, censuses, birth records, death records, marriage records. Double checking and cross-checking names can be of great help when you encounter a wall.

3. Name variations
The further back you delve into your past, the more likely that name variations start to occur. Different spellings and possibly different names entirely can start to pop up, so it is vital that you keep on top of it all. Bearing in mind the significantly lower literacy levels back in those days, it is probable that name variances will happen. Try and conjure up some other possible spellings that seem plausible.

4. Collateral lines

Reaching to other lines in your family tree isn’t a bad idea. Searching siblings of currently known ancestors could lead off an entirely new branch, or solve the branch you are currently searching. ‘Collateral kin’ as they are known as could be a key towards unlocking the further development of your tree.

5. Social History

Social context is another important factor towards discovering your ancestors. Let’s take World War 1 for example. In 1914, an estimated 250,000 teenage boys were listed to the army, under aged. Almost half of them passed away. Their age would have been varied on any death records to allow them to be legally be in the army. Understanding exactly how your ancestors lived is key.
A great example of this is Sue Mackay, who was looking on more information about some ancestors of her American cousins. After broadening her horizons, she found the information she needed to develop her family tree! Read the full post here:…-Your-Own-Luck

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