If you have been working on your family tree for some time you may be finding it more and more challenging the further back in history that you go. Once people are out of living memory your options for finding more information become quite limited.
For some, this can be frustrating, for others, it can be where the fun begins! The key is to stay positive and not let yourself get frustrated by any dead ends that you come across over the course of your search. This can be easier said than done, but you should know that you have a lot of options at your disposal.
1. Think about variations in spelling
When you are looking at records and scouring them for a relatives name you should think about the many different ways that a name could be spelled. For example, the name of a relative could be John of Jon depending on who wrote it down. This is especially true for surnames as they can change a great deal over time. This is also true if there was immigration at some point in the person’s life, new records were created or they decided to change their name to fit in with the culture of their new home.
2. Try not to make assumptions
You should not believe anything you hear, you need to verify each and every bit of information that is not written down. If you suspect that the source of any of the information that you have is unreliable then you need to make a note of that. It can be still worth following a thread that you have that you are not 100% sure of but you do need to make sure that you are not spending too much time with unreliable and unsubstantiated evidence.
3. Don’t waste time
This is easier said than done. You will need to devote a significant amount of time to your search and it will not be easy. You always need to be looking at the big picture, if you spend too long on some minor details then you may miss a connection that could really help you out. It is best that you are ready to admit when you have hit a dead end and need to refocus your search.
Even though you started your search by speaking with your elderly relatives who may have told you all they know, now is the time to go back and show them what you have learned. The names and locations that you have uncovered might trigger some additional memories.
5. Join online groups
This can be a great way to get some help if you are stuck. These online groups are filled with people who have been working on their family trees for many years and will have some really valuable ideas on how to get your genealogy search back up to speed. This can be a really great way to get the process up and running again in no time. It can also give you a much-needed boost after feeling a little defeated by too many dead ends.
6. Take a DNA test
This can help to uncover information that you didn’t have already. Everything from the rough area in the world that your family is from to even being able to connect with others who have done their own DNA testing. The chances are that they are also working on their family tree and you can collaborate to see if there is any overlap with their research and yours. Just make sure you use a trustworthy DNA testing provider like CRI Genetics to ensure your results are as accurate as possible.