Genealogy Brick Walls Are Solvable

methods & strategies Oct 06, 2021

Ah, the dreaded genealogy phrase, brick wall.

The dread is understandable, since we usually use the phrase to mean an unsolvable research problem.

But, brick walls come in different shapes and sizes. And, sometimes they're self-imposed (🙋‍♀️ raises hand in guilt).

A brick wall is usually created by one or many of the following roadblocks:

  • Lack of records
  • Misinterpreted records
  • Absence of direct evidence
  • Same-name individuals
  • Unknown origin
  • Unconventional migration
  • Haphazard research practices
  • Not researching beyond conventional and/or online sources

But there is hope!

Many brick walls are solvable!

But, you've got to be willing to work for it so you can remove the roadblocks and start breaking down that wall brick by brick.

In my digital course Genealogy Problem-Solving Academy, I teach the entire framework that I've used for years to smash down brick walls for me and my clients. My students just love how the framework has transformed the way they research. At its simplest level, the framework helps you define your research question, review and analyze prior research, and formulate a plan for additional research.

Why it works? Well...

  • Defining your research question provides clarity and allows you to focus on one specific thing. Without this focus, you'll never arrive at your destination.
  • Reviewing and analyzing prior research gives you perspective by helping you get your records, findings, and thoughts organized. This is necessary because in order to know where you're going, you need to know where you've been.
  • Formulating a plan for additional research gives you a roadmap so you can conduct research efficiently and effectively. No more wandering around in circles and falling down rabbit holes!

It's all about getting organized and researching with intention. This is what gives you the best chance for knocking down those brick walls.

Think about your current brick wall project. Instead of just randomly entering names into databases, I encourage you to take a step back and define your research question, review and analyze prior research, and build a research plan. Then use that plan to attack that brick wall.

If you want to go deeper into my framework, consider joining my digital course Genealogy Problem-Solving Academy. Inside the Academy, I go in depth on how to work through the framework, providing step-by-step, actionable guidance that you can apply to your own research project immediately. There is a method to my madness 🤪 and you get to learn all of it inside the Academy.

© Julie Tarr. This article was first published at Genealogy In Action; appearance of this article elsewhere, without my permission, violates copyright.