Road Map to Your Roots
12/29/2010
Want to make some ancestral breakthroughs? Bust some brick walls? A research plan can guide you to your past.
How many genealogists today start researching a family line by typing a few names into a website's search box, hitting Enter and hoping for a bunch of hits?

While this 21st-century dartboard approach can net you some quick results, it may not be your best bet for solving research problems in the long haul. For what genealogists call a "brick wall" -- a research question you can't seem to answer -- you'll need a more thought-out approach. Just as you wouldn't attempt to change the oil in your car without instructions or try to prepare a baked Alaska without a recipe, you shouldn't even think about going on your ancestral journey without a good strategy.

A research plan helps you record the who, what, when, where and why of your family history quest. Think of it as a road map, or in modern terms, a GPS that provides a navigational system to your past. Try our simple five-point strategy to create a research plan and chart your own course for genealogical success.