We all have them in our family trees, the relatives that we cannot find out more about. Where did they disappear? Who really was the father of your great-grandfather? Why is the great great grandmother not listed in the same church records as their older and younger siblings?
Sometimes we are stuck and we can stay like this year after year. Some of these dead ends become family mysteries that are never solved, but a little structure in the search can help you well on the way. Here are several tips that might help you find out about the genus.
1. Define what it is you actually want to figure out
It is easy to be distracted by all the information you are presented with in the search of an ancestor. Defining exactly what you are trying to figure out will help you stay focused.
2. Write down all the sources you have been through
There is no doubt that it is important to note down the sources for the information you find as a genealogist. At the same time it is just as important to make a note of which sources you have been through and not found out anything.
Also note down which date you went through your online sources.
After a few years of exploration, it is easy to forget which sources you have used and which you have not used. Remembering also the unsuccessful sources ensures that you do not waste time looking through the same source twice.
3. Go through everything you know
Review all the information you have acquired about the person who has created such a headache. Is all the information you have really about this person or maybe you have mixed in sources that mention a namesake or a sibling?
4. Create a timeline
By setting up a timeline, you will get a neat overview of all the events you know about the one you are looking for was involved in. A timeline can help reveal whether there are activities that overlap or events that may not have occurred simultaneously.
Read also: Create a timeline
5. Examine the whole family of that person
There can be traces of your ancestor within his close family. Maybe he / she is listed as having adopted a child?
6. Make a plan
Make a list of all the sources that may be relevant to examine. Remember that all sources are not online and you may need to contact archives home and / or abroad to access the necessary sources to resolve the genus.
7. Use Facebook
Ask for help, there are many out there who want to assist you. A “fresh” head that is not locked into the wrong pattern will see the facts differently. Facebook is great for getting in touch with genealogy groups from local areas, here you can find many experts to get help from.
8. Focus on one type of information at a time
You might be sitting on several types of information at once, both years, numbers, names and places. Keep the focus on the one track and note which sources you have been through for each person. Nothing is more annoying than forgetting which sources you have been through because you got distracted.
If you find anything else of interest, make a note and come back to it another time.
9. Think creatively
Try to think more creatively about the information you have. Can’t find the birth information or it is too indistinctly written? Try the notification about their confirmation. You may find a clue there or maybe the name of the father more clearly written.
10. Visit the local genealogy team
Here you will find people that are interested in family history. Many of them will have a very good knowledge of the area your relative lived in. Maybe they know some descendants?
11. Check digital sources again
A book is always static, but a database can be dynamic. Even if you have looked through a database earlier, it might be worth having another look. In many databases new information is constantly being added. So even if a search was unsuccessful once, it doesn’t have to be unsuccessful the next time.
12. The web is more than Ancestry and MyHeritage
Try several data bases. Maybe you can find the person you’re looking for in the National Library’s online library. If you use a library you will also have access to the newspapers that are digitized there. Many books are available online.
Read also: Genealogy in 123
13. Learn all the search possibilities of the databases you are using
Many databases have a set of tags that can be used to do extended or narrow searches. Look for the help pages where this is explained.