Quick tip – Apply Lessons Learned to Old Problems

The longer we do genealogy, the better we get. We’ll learn about new sources and strategies that help us solve new problems that come across our paths. But we should not stop there: we should also periodically revisit our old problems and apply the lessons we have learned.

Two years ago, I wrote an article about how to find the father of an illegitimate child. One of the strategies I discussed in the article is to analyze all the records from around the time of the birth.

When I was revisiting one of my own brick walls involving an illegitimate child, I figured I would take my own advice and study the birth record again. The record included two witnesses. I recognized the name of one of the witnesses: his son later married the mother of the child. Because the man married the mother fifteen years after the child was born, I had never considered him as a candidate to be the child’s biological father, but now that I know that his father witnessed the birth certificate, I will be taking a second look at him!

Old woman reading a newspaper holding a looking glass

Wilhelmina Cammel (108) reading a newspaper. Credits: Koen Suyk, Nationaal Archief (CC-BY-SA)

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, MLitt, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist, writer, and lecturer in the Netherlands. She has a Master of Letters in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee, and holds the Certification of Genealogist and Qualified Genealogist credentials. Yvette served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists and won excellence awards for her articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. Yvette has been doing genealogy for over 30 years. She helps people from across the world find their ancestors from the Netherlands and its former colonies, including New Netherland. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. That’s a great tip. It’s amazing what we can achieve when we take our own advice. I’ve done the same when looking at brick walls in my own research. We don’t realize that the answer is staring right at us.

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