Planning to Break Down Your Brick Wall

by Amy Johnson Crow

Posted on January 18, 2013

It's mid-January, which means that a lot of New Year's resolutions are starting to slide. They say that you're more likely to be successful if you have a plan. As it turns out, making a plan was one of our resolutions!

Family history can take you down a path of discovery. But sometimes on the path, there is a stumbling block. Don't panic -- it's perfectly normal! It seems like everyone has an ancestor who doesn't want to be discovered. In genealogy circles, this is known as the "brick wall ancestor" or the "brick wall problem."

Just like keeping resolutions, you will have better success breaking down your brick wall if you have a plan.

The first step in solving any problem is identifying what the problem is. What is it you want to know? Are you trying to find a person's parents? Are you trying to find a maiden name? It's easy to say you want to find everything -- we all want to find "everything!" But it's much harder to focus your efforts if you aren't specific about what you want to find.

Before diving into new research, take a look at what you already have. This is especially true if you've been researching for a while! If you have some records that you haven't looked at for quite some time, pull them out. It's amazing what a set of fresh eyes on a record can do!

Harold Henderson's recent Expert Series article "Solving the Paradox of Research Planning" has even more helpful hints on how to make a great research plan. Now go make a plan and break down that brick wall!

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