Stalled: What to do when your genealogy research hits a road block.

      My personal goal as a genealogist is to find the country of origin of all my family lines.  I have successfully found over a dozen, but there is still many more to go.  Some go so far back, that I see the records dwindle as I go through each generation.  Sometimes there are road blocks along the way, and it seems like an ancestor has vanished from thin air.  What is there to do when this happens?

Here are a few of my strategies for a difficult project:

National Library Madrid, Spain 
Contact or visit a new research facility.  I do this if I am looking into an ancestor that is away from where I live.  For example, some counties have more extensive collections than others so even if that ancestor did not originate in that county there could be information.  State collections and archives can also have records pertaining to that particular ancestor or family.  As a final alternative, check university archives in that state.  
On a Hike with my husband in Navarre Region of Spain
Retrace your research.  It can sometimes help to go back through your research or information you have already used in order to make sure there is nothing you missed.  I will even go as far as starting with me, and going back down the family tree.

Sample Census Page

Try alternative spellings of the surnames.  This is particularly helpful when looking at the Census.  Spelling can vary from year to year.  They also can be different when looking at immigration records since last names tend to change as a family lives in the United States longer.  For example, my maiden name Lawrence was actually Lorenzo in Spain.  Do not fall trap to thinking because the name is spelled different they are not part of your ancestry.  
Take a break.  Let us face it, there is always plenty to research when it comes to genealogy.  When I get particularly cross with a project, I work on a different surname or project.  The fresh prospective can always help when you go back to your challenging project.  

13 thoughts on “Stalled: What to do when your genealogy research hits a road block.

  1. Kathryn says:

    Welcome to Geneabloggers! We all get stalled out sometimes. I use the take a break strategy a lot since there's always another line to look into. Enjoyed reading your blog! Kathryn

  2. M&Y says:

    I noticed your blog the other night on GeneaBloggers and so happy you stopped here for a visit. If I see anything that may interst you, I will certainly share!

  3. Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith says:

    Welcome to the GeneaBloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill 😉
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels:
    "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"
    The Heritage Tourist at In-Depth Genealogist:

  4. Jacqi Stevens says:

    Your post here puts me in mind of the "brick walls" topic of last weekend's Twitter chat called #genchat. This would be a good addition to their chat topic.

    I just found your blog today, thanks to a mention on GeneaBloggers last weekend. Best wishes as you continue your research and writing!

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