Tips for Finding a Hard to Find Ancestor

Tips for Finding a Hard to Find Ancestor4

Genealogy research is often full of dead ends. We’ve all been there, when you’re looking for specific information on a relative and just keep hitting the wall. Today, we’re sharing a few tips to keep your research moving forward! It may just be a matter of a different perspective.

1. Focus on One Thing at a Time

In genealogy research, you often have many goals and it can get overwhelming. It can also be easy to get distracted with so many directions to go. Avoiding getting overwhelmed and distracted when you choose one thing to focus on at a time. Maybe you want to focus on one specific relative. There are still a lot of directions you can go. When you start to feel stuck or that you’ve reached a dead end, you can also transfer your attention to another avenue. But it can be exciting to learn all you can about a relative—it will feel like you know them personally and may give you insights into your own life.

2. Search Databases Individually

Popular and large sites that have access to many databases. Though these sites can be very helpful and an easy one-stop option, they may not always be the best option for what you’re looking for. Using a database individually will narrow down your results and may give you the details you’re looking for. You may be surprised at what you could find when you take advantage of more narrow databases. Important details can often be overlooked or lost in the broad searches.

3. Try Offline Searches

There is so much information available online, but there is plenty available offline as well. If you’re hitting a dead end, try stepping away from your computer screen. You may find that visiting a family member, a cemetery, a local library, a genealogy library, historical society, or other organization can give you access to new records and new information. There are often people who are trained in research at these locations who are able and willing to help. If you want to dig really deep, attending a genealogical conference may also help you get some ideas and move forward in your research.

4. Specialize Your Search

Searching too broadly may be hindering your research. For example, if you are looking into the life of your great grandfather, John Smith, you are unlikely to find information specific to him if you just type his name into Google. However, if you have his birthplace, birth year, a middle name, family member names, or other information specific to him, you are much more likely to find information on the John Smith you are looking for.

5. Search Different Databases

You may not find what you’re looking for in one particular database, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. If you search on Ancestry, for example, it may be that information isn’t in their database, but it could still be available, even available online. There are many sites that will have records that are specific to their database. Don’t give up! The information is often out there, it’s a just a matter of where.