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Brick Wall Genealogy Solutions
A Family Heritage Resource

Read our

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The Family Tree Problem Solver: Proven Methods
for Scaling the Inevitable Brick Wall


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500 Brickwall
Solutions to
Genealogy Problems


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More Brickwall
Solutions to
Genealogy Problems


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Tracking Down
Your Ancestors


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Genealogists Question and Answer Book: Solutions and Advice for Maximizing Your Research Results


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Printed Sources: A Guide to Published Genealogical Records


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Genealogist's Guide
to Discovering Your Female Ancestors: Special Strategies


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Books, Software
& More


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How to Do Everything with Your Genealogy


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Finding Your
Roots Online


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The Census Book:

A Genealogist's Guide
to Federal Census Facts, Schedules
and Indexes


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Research on

the Web


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Everything Family Tree Book: Research and Preserve Your Family History


t some point, almost every genealogy researcher will hit the proverbial brick wall or dead end with one or many of their ancestors. Records appear to be missing, a maiden name seems impossible to find or you need to find ancestors in another country but don't know where to look. This is a guide to creative solutions to brick wall challenges and dilemmas.

We also have a blog, Relative Musings, at Topics include key genealogy resources and personal musings on my own research. This augments the Genealogy Resources guide that is a single page of links to highly recommended online family research advice and databases. An index of blog topics is available. And follow us on Twitter for genealogy updates, tips and strategies.

GO TO:  Articles | Guides & Lessons | Examples | Special Resources | Maps

Brick Wall Tips & Solutions     [ Top ]


Brick Walls from A to Z: a clever list of 26 strategies to help including developing a biography, chronology or thinking of extended family

Brick Wall Research Tips:  think creatively, be a detective, use a checklist for each generation, and much more

Using Collateral Lines is a valuable way to solve brick wall genealogy problems. Find the vital records, obituaries or other records of siblings, cousins and more. Develop a detailed family timeline and work to fill in gaps.

Cluster Genealogy: research relatives such as siblings as well as others connected to the person you seek in order to have a research break-through on one who seems to have appeared out of thin air.

Cluster Genealogy research also includes people such as neighbors and business associates

Dead End Genealogy Ideas:  strategies to help you make further progress on a family line, such as learning about an ancestor's other marriages

Solve Genealogy Dead Ends by making sure to obtain every document available because small details may open new lines of research, including name and age variations

Over Your Brick Wall:  learn a lot about the area the person lived,   what documents are available, gain a feel for his or her life, and more tips

Brick Wall Research Tips: review all your notes on the ancestor in question and you may spot a clue you missed the first time through, and try to find someone doing parallel research who might help.

3 Brick-Wall Busters: tested strategies for getting past your dead-ends

Super Secrets of Successful Genealogists: tips from the pros on getting past brick walls or dead ends in your family research

Clarify the Question: improve your family research in brick wall and other situations by asking precise questions, writing detailed queries

Record and Document Everything, even records searched that yielded no results.

Try a Fresh Perspective: and be sure to check out family lines of cousins as cousins often married.

Revisit Neglected Lines: with so much new information being placed online, you need to revisit a family line you may have set aside. Or reorganize your results and you may see something new.

Start Over and review a family line with a new eye, thinking of possible new sources to check

Try Networking and New Sources plus a can do attitude to solve brick wall challenges

Use Timelines & Maps to visualize your ancestor's life, find holes in your knowledge and see where to direct your research efforts

Why You Can't Find Them:  name changes and misspellings, with many examples and strategies to get around this difficult dead end

Quaker Records Helpful in solving a family brick wall genealogy problem, and alternative sources when you've researched the obvious ones.

Guides & Lessons     [ Top ]

Hit a Brick Wall? - Cyndi's List guide to brick wall solutions

Enhance Research Skills: a series of 32 lessons to help you find missing family information, with a "brick wall" section including:
  Common dead ends: how to get around them
  Review information you have for new leads
  Focus on facts rather than on sources to help
   you find less familiar sources with what you need
  Find female ancestors - best sources
  View the bigger picture including siblings,
   cousins, neighbors, a whole village

Learn from Examples     [ Top ]

Brickwall Solutions: A Sampler:  here are 10 stories of individuals who solved their genealogical mystery and how they did it, with educated guesses, on-site research, re-review of records, awareness of potential spelling differences, and more.

Search for Henrietta: a genealogist outlines eight essential strategies for breaking down brick walls in one's family, brick by brick - with examples of what a fresh look can yield in clues and search ideas, and a look at what land records can tell

Story of Ellen: one genealogist decribes his long search for her, what he knows, and   strategies to try to see if he can find her -- such as chronologies and alternate surname spellings, plus readers' ideas

Finding Wm. L. Acuff's Father: a researcher finds his ggg-grandfather in a court deposition after many years of searching

Finding William Cook and Wife: a journey that including trips to Salt Lake City and Oklahoma

Finding Mark's German Ancestors: while this article is five years old, it offers a unique look at the value of poking around the Web and trying new approaches and following new trails

Finding Frederick Bruce: by collecting family information, studying history and geography, and posting queries, this researcher found her ancestor was Martin Friedrich Bruss, who was among Milwaukee's earliest Germans

Brick Walls & Puzzle Pieces: an in-depth look at available records and how the author overcame brick walls in his Kollros, Spiegel and O'Malley families, with detailed documentation of what he did and how the puzzle pieces came together

Brick Wall in 19th Century in North Carolina, with strategies for segmenting the problem and going after each one -- and keeping an open mind

Genealogy Products     [ Top ]

Visit our Genealogy Shop for family history and genealogy books, software and other products today. Check out the sections for German genealogy, Irish genealogy and much more.

Special Resources & Ideas     [ Top ]

Brick Wall Mailing List: Join this is a forum where you can post brickwalls, those elusive ancestors that you can find nothing on. And find new solutions.

Afri-Geneas Brick Wall Forum: for advanced genealogy researchers to post brick wall problems and documentation

Share Your Brick Wall Stories here and yours may be selected for assistance by Megan

Discrepancy Charts: organize conflicting data in chart form to better see inconsistencies and determine what further research to do

Locating Previous Overseas Home: a chapter in the free WikiBook on genealogy

Rootsweb Surname List: post your surname and find others researching your name

Keep an Eye on eBay for potential books or Bibles for your family or surname

Avoid Genealogy Burnout due to the frustration of brick wall problems and use these strategies to get re-energized and continue the hunt.

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Smart Family History:
New Ideas for Maximising
Your Research


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The Sleuth Book for Genealogists: Strategies for More Successful
Family History Research


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Books, Software
& More


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Courthouse Research

for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical


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The Hidden Half of

the Family: A Sourcebook for Women's Genealogy


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Organizing Your
Family History


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Netting Your

Research on the Internet


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on Twitter for
genealogy ideas

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Family History 101: A Beginner's Guide to Finding Your Ancestors


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The Unpuzzling Your

Past Workbook:
Essential Forms and
Letters for All Genealogists


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RootsMagic Family
Tree Genealogy



Blog:  Relative

Index to Finding Family for Free

Genealogy Resources

Genealogy Books
& Software



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for Dummies

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Planting Your Family Tree
Online: How to Create
Your OwnFamily History
Web Site

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The Complete Idiot's
Guide to Online

Second Edition

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The Researcher's
Guide to American
Genealogy 3rd Ed.

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The Hidden Half of

the Family: A Sourcebook for Women's Genealogy


Other Genealogy Resources   [ Top ]

Family Research Tips & Tools including an index to our growing series of Finding Family for Free segments

Genealogy Resources: links to many of the most helpful online resources for family history research, many available free, and including a section on getting started in genealogy

Relative Musings:  our blog on genealogy and family history research, including the growing number of Finding Family for Free entries

Special Interest Resources:   New Holstein, Milwaukee, Sheboygan, Wisconsin Genealogy, Canton Glarus, Simmental, Switzerland and
more in Family History Resources

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The Census Book:

A Genealogist's Guide
to Federal Census Facts, Schedules
and Indexes

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Your Guide to the Federal
Census: For Genealogists,
Researchers, and
Family Historians

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First Steps in Genealogy:

A Beginner's Guide to Researching Your
Family History

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Genealogy 101:
How to Trace Your
Family's History
and Heritage

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Map Guide to the
U.S. Federal


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Walking With Your Ancestors: A Genealogist's Guide
to Using Maps
and Geography


aps for Genealogy   [ Top ]

Maps in Family Research: the third most important resource for genealogists

Using Maps in Genealogy Research: a fact sheet with links and map resources

Using Maps and Gazetteers: three reasons why maps can help your ancestor search

Maps & Place Names in family research -- why historic maps and gazetteers are valuable

Search Old US Maps and use search tools to find locations

Use Maps to visualize your ancestor's life and see where to direct your research efforts

Maps of Wisconsin   [ Top ]

1895 Wisconsin Atlas: state and county maps plus index to towns, cities

Historical Maps of Wisconsin: digital maps

Wisconsin History Reference Maps

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Map Guide to
American Migration
Routes, 1735-1815


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They Came in Ships:

Finding Your
Immigrant Ancestor's
Arrival Record


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Finding Your Family
on the Internet: The Ultimate Guide

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They Became Americans:
Finding Naturalization Records
and Ethnic Origins

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They Came To
America: Finding Your
Immigrant Ancestors

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Finding Your German Ancestors : A

Beginner's Guide


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