Don't let dead ends drain your genealogical batteries. Jump-start your ancestor hunt with these 12 research boosters.
In a perfect world, your genealogical research would take after the Energizer bunny — you'd cheerfully march along, adding generations and making new discoveries with every beat of the drum. Your reality, however, probably isn't a never-ending parade of pedigree progress. More likely, you have at least one family line that, instead of marching on and on like that motorized rabbit, smacks into a wall and gets stuck there until the batteries die.
We're talking about the dreaded genealogical “brick wall,” of course — one of those seemingly unsolvable research problems even the Energizer bunny couldn't outlast. The good news is you're not truly at a brick wall until you've looked at every possible record your ancestor could've created (and then some). That's not the case with most family history sleuths who get stuck: They're simply in a rut and don't know what to do next. Maybe your ancestral obstacle isn't really a brick wall — perhaps your genealogical batteries just need a jump-start. Try these 12 proven methods to recharge your research, and you'll keep going and going and going.
1. Find originals.
If you're a regular reader of Family Tree Magazine, you've heard us advise time and again to get the original records. Though online databases, published family histories and other researchers' work can get your search started, taking that extra hop to the original document can really pay off.
For example, all the researchers studying one of the Abraham Riggses of Accomack County, Va., have labeled him as the second son of John Riggs. In the published record abstracts containing John Riggs' 1766 will, he leaves his estate to his son Joseph. Thus, everyone assumes Joseph is the eldest son. But he's not.