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National Family History Month Week 3 #NFHM2022

August 31, 2022

Alexander Daw from Family Tree Frog blog has challenged bloggers to participate in a bloggers challenge to celebrate National Family History Month. Alex provided prompts that have been very thought provoking.

Week 3

The prompt for week 3 is to share your tips for smashing your brick walls. I’m very late with my week 3 post but, I suppose it’s better late than never, as the saying goes.

Brick Walls

A brick wall occurs when you can’t find any further information about an ancestor that you have been researching. Brick walls are very frustrating, but they don’t have to mean that you will never find further information about your family member. I am no expert at smashing through brick walls but listed below are a few steps I take when faced with a brick wall.

Review all information collected about the person who is your brick wall. Re-read your certificates and documents. It’s possible that you missed a snippet of information that will open up your research. This has happened to me quite a few times.

Information about your ancestor may have been unavailable when you were researching, due to privacy reasons. As the years go by, you may find the information is released.

Check F.A.Ns -friends and neighbours of your ancestor. You may be surprised at what you will find by doing this. For example: if your ancestor isn’t with their family at the time of the census, the first thing to do would be to check if there has been a death. If not, perhaps they are staying with a family member, friend or neighbour.

Perhaps there have been books written about the area where your ancestor lived, which would give context to the life of your family.

The local family history society for the area of your ancestor may have further information. Even if they don’t have information about your ancestor, it’s possible they will have information about the area that will provide a better understanding of the life your family lived.

I have to say that the above suggestions don’t always produce the desired result. I published a post a while ago, about my family members who seem destined to be my permanent brick walls. Click here if you would like to read about them.

I’d love to hear about your brick walls and your successes breaking through them. Leave me a comment and I promise to reply.

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  1. Brick walls are a trick aren’t they. The spelling of names seems to have been my undoing with brickwalls. It’s difficult to imagine how to muck up the spelling of the name Conner (apart from O’Conner or Connor) but the weirdes spelling yet was Cormer. It’s all about how people read handwriting isn’t it? so you have to get cleverer about how you search indexes e.g. if you’ve got an idea of where the person lived, maybe look for them with their christian name and occupation or something like that.

    • Thank you so much for this Alex. I forgot to mention surname variations. I have come across many in my family research so should have remembered. I appreciate you adding your advice

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