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August 22, 2016

5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Genealogy When it has Stalled

Ah, the proverbial brick wall. We all hit it at one time or another. You've searched every single document you can think of but you simply can't get past a certain time period or event for an ancestor.

Maybe you can't find Grandmother Mabel on that 1850 census but you have her in 1860 and you know she is hiding somewhere!

Perhaps Great-grandfather James is keeping his Irish origins hidden and you can't go any further unless you can figure out where in Ireland you need to look!

That's when you need to jumpstart your genealogy research. You need fresh ideas, fresh eyes and you need to be rejuvenated.

Here are 5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Genealogy:

1. Revisit and review old research
Take out all your research on that brickwall ancestor. Go over it again. Read it carefully, analyze it, see if there are clues there you might have missed the first time around. I've written about my own reviews of old research and the new clues Ive found at Why Review Old Genealogy Research? and Everyone Makes Mistakes: Why You Should Review Your Research Notes 
2. Switch to a different ancestor
Sometimes it's time to set Grandmother Mabel aside for a bit and work on someone else. when you are ready to go back to the puzzle of Grandmother Mabel, you may find that fresh eyes will make all the difference in the world.

3. Find a genealogy buddy who will brainstorm with you 
I always brainstorm with my husband when I have a challenging genealogy mystery. It's beneficial to have someone approach the mystery with a different outlook. Often that person comes up with something that you didn't think of.

4. Make a chronological timeline of your ancestor's life events.
This is one of the most helpful ways to organize your thoughts and see at a glance where the holes are in your research. Making a timeline for one of my husband's challenging ancestors I noted that I had his baptism record, immigration record, marriage record, births of children, death of his wife and then his death.

However I did not have a record of land he might have purchased or rented and that sent me off a hunt for those records. To my surprise there was mention of him selling his land to his wife for $1.00 then buying it back two years later. That in turn led me to think about what happened in those two years? Why had he sold the land and then bought it back? Long story short, eventually I found out he had gone to jail in that time.

5. Take a break
Yep that's right. Sometimes it's time to say "Enough!". Put your genealogy aside and go for a walk, or out for lunch with friends, or to a movie. Do something relaxing such as read a book, or visit a museum....  do something completely different, something that is fun for you. You'll come back to the puzzle refreshed and eager to get at it again.


mbm1311 said...

I would add - take an autosomal DNA test. It's an additional record

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Stay tuned for an article I wrote for Legacy Family Tree which jumps THIS article (5 ways) up to TEN!

In that one (10 Ways) I did add take a DNA test. :-) The article was written when I wrote this 5 ways one, and should publish this week on LFT

Jamie Miley said...

It helps if I come up with a few projects or goals I've found, instead of just chasing every hint that pops up on Ancestry.

Diane said...

Please advise the best one for my lineage (same as yours cuz.) Ty xoxo

antiquebookworm said...

I use all five and also have used DNA - both autosomal, mtDNA, and Y-DNA.