Every once in a while (perhaps more often than we would like) roadblocks, dead ends, and difficulty halt work on a particular line or record search.  It can be quite frustrating, and you may find yourself reviewing sources and leads again and again but making no progress.

Below are a few ideas on how to keep going and to find what you’re looking for

  1. Take a break – Believe it or not, but taking a break can be one of the best things to keep you moving forward.  Returning back after a break can help you with new insight and approach your research in new ways.
  2. Enlist help – Getting the help of others when you’ve come to a dead end can be a crucial step to finding what you’re looking for.  Obviously, the easiest people to get help from are your immediate family; however, it’s possible that their information is similar to you own.  Go to the oldest living relative in the line and see what they know.  They may have old records in the home that they forgot about.  You can also go to your local family history library and ask for help.  Another method is to try to get help from people across the Internet.  There are plenty of sites such as genealogy.com and ancestry.com where you can connect with other researchers. 
  3. Use online tools and databases – You’ve probably already done this in your search, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it.  If you cant find your records at ancestry.com or familysearch.org, try doing Google searches.  Search for the name of the person, put quotes around the first and last name as an option to find records on the Internet with an exact match.  Try including any dates or approximate dates you may have.  Many individuals have posted their family records online; they may have posted something about a common ancestor that you share too.
  4. Go wide – It’s possible that the record you have isn’t the name that the person used or it is spelled differently.  Try widening your research to include a wider date range and various spellings of the name.
  5. Visit the location where the records may be – Lots of towns have records but are not posted online.  If you’re up for a trip, try locating cemeteries, churches, and state buildings in the city where you think your ancestor lived.  Ask all over for places to get records.  Find the family history library in the vicinity (helps to do this in advance) and ask for help there.

Whether you’re a veteran researcher or a newbie, taking different and unique approaches can sometimes pay off big.  Good luck, and happy searching.