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Don't quit after hitting family history 'brick walls'

Tenaciousness first step in resolving problems

You are at a dead end in family history research only if you give up, said researcher G. David Dilts, speaking at the Genealogy and Family History Conference July 31.

His seminar, "What to Do When Your Research Hits a Dead End," addressed a common problem in family history research.

"Be determined to stick it out," he said. "Some people solve problems after many years of searching."

He offered a number of suggestions on getting past the "brick wall" in research. Among his suggestions were:

  • Go from the known to the unknown. Find the most recent events first, then work back in time.
  • Pick one thing to search for at a time, then stick with it. Look for alternate spellings and nicknames, look beyond indexes, do page-by-page searches.
  • Keep a research log where the objective of each search is clearly stated. Write down which records you plan to search and the results of each search. Also write down letters written, phone calls made, and Internet searches made.
  • Search other sources, including: nationwide indexes, such as the Periodical Source Index, AIS Microfiche Index, and Family Finder Index. Also look for death records that can be found in many places.
  • Get help: Join local genealogical and historical associations. Collaboration with others through the FamilySearch site and in classes and conferences may yield valuable clues.

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