Quick tip – Don’t go back too far too soon

When we go back in time, we often hit a brick wall for a person for whom we only know the name. Perhaps we find a marriage record that lists the father, or we find a name with a patronymic that suggests who the father was.

It is very hard to find records if you only know a name. Often, names are not unique. There may be multiple people in the town with the same name, perhaps named after the same grandparent. You will need to know more about your ancestor to be sure that the record you find are indeed about that person.

One way to do this is by searching for more records about his children. These records may give you direct or indirect evidence that tell you more about your brick wall ancestor, such as the name of the spouse, an approximate date of death, or the location of property that he owned.

By knowing more about the person, you will be able to assess whether any records you find are indeed for the person you are looking for. Don’t go back too soon but take your time to complete the research for the later generations. That will prevent you from going off-track and tracing the wrong line.

train wreck

Derailed train. Credits: Spaarnestad Photo (no known copyrights)

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.

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