Genealogy research may now be among America’s favorite hobbies, but it certainly is not the least frustrating. Stamp and coin collecting may start to look more attractive after you spend a few days combing through Ancestry Library Edition and can’t find any new records to help add details to your family tree. But don’t despair for too long, the following tips and tricks may help you get past the dreaded brick wall in genealogy research.
I would be remiss if I left out some basic but absolutely necessary steps:
Don’t give up! You will be able to find more information with patience and diligence than without it.
Organize your research:
Chart your family tree.
Make duplicates of primary documents.
Create folders or binders for different branches of your family tree.
Create a database on your computer just for your genealogical research.
Create a research log to help you remember what you searched and what resources you used.
Review your previous research.
Verify your information with primary documents.
Cite the source for each of your documents — including what type of document it is and where you obtained it.
Analyze your records both separately and as a group. Often when records are gathered over a period of time, new answers, perspectives or clues can be found.
Sort out records that contradict each other, but don’t discard them. Make note of contradictions and see if you can determine why there is conflicting information.
Look at other case studies to find similar cases to your family research. The trials of others often will give you clues for how to proceed in your family’s cases.
Share your information with other members of your family. They may have leads for you based on the research you have already done, but the information will need to be organized for someone else to understand it.
Remember that genealogy research is a lot like detective work. You are using clues to unlock a larger story. You will occasionally follow false leads and have to retrace your steps and you may have long intervals before another promising lead develops. Embrace your role as a sleuth!
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