Dead Ends And Brick Walls: How To Navigate Them During Family Research

A person taking notes while working on a laptop

Genealogy research can be an exciting and rewarding journey but often comes with challenges. One of the most frustrating obstacles genealogists face is hitting a “brick wall” – a point where they reach a dead end or encounter a lack of information.

However, with the right strategies and persistence, it’s possible to navigate these genealogy brick walls and continue progressing in your research.

Here’s what we suggest.

Go Over Your Research Again

When faced with a brick wall, you must take a step back and thoroughly review the information you already have. Go through your research notes, sources, and documents and analyze them with a fresh perspective.

Look for inconsistencies, overlooked details, or gaps that may provide new clues. Sometimes, a fresh set of eyes can uncover previously unnoticed connections or lead to a breakthrough.

Explore A Different Set of Sources and Record Types

Three books open on top of each other

Brick walls often require a creative and open-minded approach to research. Expand your search beyond the obvious record types and explore alternative sources.

Consider examining local newspapers, land records, city directories, court records, church records, military records, and other less commonly used sources. Libraries, historical societies, and archives can be excellent resources for accessing these records. Sometimes, a seemingly unrelated document can provide the missing piece of the puzzle.

Collaborate With Other Researchers

Genealogy is a collaborative endeavor, and reaching out to other researchers can be incredibly helpful when facing brick walls. Join genealogy forums, local genealogical societies, and social media groups to connect with fellow researchers.

Share your challenges, ask questions, and seek advice. Other researchers may have encountered similar brick walls or possess valuable insights and resources to guide your research.

Try Expanding Your Research Scope

If you’ve hit a roadblock with your direct ancestors, try widening your research scope to include collateral relatives. Explore siblings, aunts, cousins, and uncles of your ancestors. These individuals may hold valuable information or have records to shed light on your research.

Additionally, researching your ancestors’ social and historical context can provide insights and potential leads for further investigation.

Try To Break Through Brick Walls by Analyzing DNA Results Further

If you have taken a DNA test or have access to DNA results from relatives, leverage this powerful tool to break through brick walls. Analyze your DNA matches, pay attention to shared segments, and reach out to potential relatives to exchange information.

Collaborating with DNA matches can provide valuable insights and help you overcome roadblocks in your research.


If you need expert DNA research assistance or need help with DNA testing for ancestry, reach out to us at DavisDNA And Family Research. As an online DNA analysis services provider, we can help you analyze test results and break through any brick walls you’re facing.

Learn more.