What Are Genealogy Brick Walls and How Can You Tackle Them

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When trying toresearch your family history, the process is typically fun and it can even seem to be easy in the beginning.  But as you keep researching from one generation to the next, sooner or later, you’re bound to hit a brick wall.

The term “brick wall” basically refers to a point in your family research where you feel like you’re stuck and that your research isn’t going anywhere. It can be very frustrating when you can’t find any new leads. And in all honesty, while some brick walls are definitely locked doors,  many are just pit stops that you can work your way around.


What Kind of Brick Walls Can You Expect?

Here are a few very common brick walls that most family historians come across, but you can easily work your way around most of these with proper research and an experienced   genealogist by your side.


  • Missing maiden names, middle names, and family names with different spelling variations
  • Migration trails that have gone cold
  • Ancestors missing from census records in locations where they’re expected to be
  • Missing marriage records
  • Multiple people with exactly the same names and similar dates


Why Do Brick Walls Appear in Family Research

Many  people who undertake family research are beginners with little or no experience. So  it’s often the lack of research skills that can cause problems. Novice  researchers often fail to research holistically and typically  limit their research to one or two online resources.


Another reason why beginners sometimes face brick walls is that they collect too much information—much of which may not  even be relevant. This can make them feel overwhelmed, and as a result, they can suffer from “analysis paralysis” which makes it difficult to sift through and find the information they really need to move forward.

Simple Tips to Deal with Brick Walls

Brick walls are hardly the end of your family research journey—and most can be tackled with a little effort. Here are a few useful tips that can help you get back on track:


  • Get yourself organized; sort through the information you already have, and get rid of everything that isn’t relevant to your family tree.
  • Think outside the box. Many things you need are online, but there might be a few records you’ll find offline. Look around.
  • Talk to older family members and verify the information you already have.
  • Take a step back and make a detour—sometimes, if you can’t find the information you’re looking for while moving through one branch of the family, try researching a different line.

Collaborate with others who may be researching the same families.

A pair of glasses lying atop an open notebook

  • Be creative while searching –  try different name and age variations as there are often errors in records – and get good at Google searching!.
  • Hire a genealogist.


The surest way to get through a brick wall is to look into traditional genealogy services like the ones we offer at DavisDNA& Family Research.  We blend traditional methods with expert DNA research assistance that can take you up and over those  brick walls and find the information you need for your family tree in no time.


Get in touch with us to learn more.