Arches at Glendalough 2009

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Brickwalls or Dropped Keys?

Every genealogist has them...the proverbial brick wall. But are they truly brick walls? It is my opinion that they are no brick walls in genealogy but a case of trying to find the one key that unlocks the door.

We often use the basics-vital records, census, newspapers, and online sources to help us look for family. Are we looking at all the possibilities?There is so much more information in land records, court records, and other sources that we forget to look at them. Repositories hold vast collections and not everything is online. I often tell my students to compare sources online as being the size of one hand and the rest of your body is the information still waiting to be uncovered in archives, libraries, and other repositories.

As I mentioned in my other posting, I love timelines. Often when I am stuck on my research I'll go through and transcribe my findings. Many times I'll find something I missed when I'm compiling my information on the timeline.

So what's the best way to find those keys to the doors of information you want? Learn! We are life-long learners. Whether it is a sharing information through a blog or attending a conference you may find someone who has the "key" to the door you want to open. Attending conferences and genealogy meetings gets you off the Internet and meeting people with information. And sometimes it is the chance encounter that can help you solve your genealogical puzzle.

Another idea is to think outside of the box. Think the impossible happened? Other than aliens giving our ancestors a ride into outer space sometimes it is the impossible that is possible. I once heard a story where someone couldn't find their ancestors and followed a train route to only discover them at the end of the line.

So what are you waiting for? Get out your keys and start unlocking those doors.

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