|3 First Steps for Breaking Brick Walls|
|“Brick walls” are always a hot topic among genealogists. That is, a problem that is so stubborn it brings your research to a screeching halt. It could be you can’t find a maiden name, the record you need doesn’t exist or you simply don’t know where to turn to find the answers you need. These problems usually require very specific solutions. However, there are some initial steps you can take to try and find your way past your brick wall. |
Find the gate
Sometimes the solution is that you simply aren’t looking in the right place. For example, you search for your ancestor’s death certificate in their city or county of residence, rather than the city or county where the death occurred. Taking a step back and thinking about the most likely place for the record to be may be just the solution you need.
Go around the long way
This is an inconvenient answer, but it’s key for breaking through brick walls. There may be a way around your brick wall by following the path of another ancestor or another person. We refer to this as cluster or collateral research. For example, if you can’t find your ancestor in the census, try searching for neighbors and then browsing. It’s a classic example of cluster research at work!
Perhaps your brick wall is that you need a key piece of information, but you can’t find any records. For example, you need your ancestor’s birthplace but you can’t find their birth certificate. You can “burrow under” this brick wall by making a list of all the other possible record types that would have this information and systematically searching for them (indexes, newspaper announcements, baptism records, family bibles, etc.) It may not have what you want, but you just might find what you need.