Level up challenge – 2022 progress report

A year ago, I issued my level-up challenge. I wanted to take my research to a higher level by gathering more complete information and documentation about my ancestors. See the original blog post for an overview of the levels.

Starting point in 2021

This chart shows the starting point in January 2021. This shows how complete my research was : the higher the number the more complete.

Situation January 2022

2022 levels

You can see here that I made the most progress in generation 4 and 5, getting several ancestors up to level 3 or 4. I have reassessed some of the levels. When I initially made the chart, I quickly assigned the levels. Over the past year, I have been looking more critically. As a result, some levels went up while others went down.

Paternal side

DNA Painter has integrated the research levels in their tool, allowing me to more easily keep track of how I am doing. I split it into my paternal and maternal side so each side visualizes generations 3-11. Generation 11 is the earliest generations for which I know at least half of my ancestors; it drops off quickly from there, especially on my mother’s side.

2022 paternal research level

My goal for 2021 was to get the first five generations to level 3. The closest ring on this paternal chart are my paternal grandparents, so generation 3 for me. You can see that I managed to get all my generation 3, 4, and 5 ancestors to level 3 at least. In generation 6, most are at level 2 still.

Major changes since last year:

  • I have been doing more research on the first five generations of my father’s side, getting more to level 3 or 4. This is now possible thanks to the increased availability of population registers for the area where his ancestors lived.
  • I downgraded the information about my father’s paternal grandfather from level 4 to 3 because I realized I did not have all his information yet.
  • I wrote a case study for some of my paternal ancestors that I used for my renewal portfolio for the Board for Certification of Genealogists. This is the dark and lighter green blob on the lower left side. The case study has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal so I will blog about that when it comes out (publication date unknown, hopefully later this year).

Unfortunately, some of the information needed to get my paternal ancestors from level 3 to 4 is not available online. I particularly miss the notarial records. The archives where they are kept, the Erfgoedcentrum Achterhoek en Liemers, does not offer scanning on demand.

Maternal side

Research levels maternal side


You can see that on my maternal side, I have all my generation 3, 4, and 5 ancestors up to level 4 or higher. In generation 6, there are three people at level 2 still. The two red blocks are two fathers of children who were born out of wedlock, whose identify I do not know.

Major changes since last year:

  • I have identified one of my longest-standing brick wall ancestors! The only red ancestor in generation five in 2021 (all the way on the right); the father of Maria Gommeren. DNA evidence has proven that her biological father was Jan Gommeren, the man who acknowledged her when she was seven years old. The delay between her birth and her parents marriage made me initially dismiss him as her biological father but DNA matches to descendants of his siblings proved he was the father after all. I cracked this case late in 2021 so have not had much time to research his ancestors yet. I also do not have all his records needed for level 3, so that will be another thing I will be working on.
  • I have found more information on several of my ancestors, getting more of them to level 3 or 4. I particularly love the mill tax records in Brabant that can be used as census substitutes and will write more about that source later.

My mother’s side is mainly from Noord-Brabant, with a branch from Zeeland. Online access is excellent in these provinces. The Brabant provincial archives and the local/regional archives all offer free scanning on demand now. I have been able to use the online records combined with the occasional scan request to get several of my ancestors to level 4 or even 5.

2022 goals

In 2022, I want to get all my generation six ancestors to level 3 at least. Where the necessary records are available online, I want to get them to level 4. Getting my paternal ancestors to to level 4 will probably require on-site research so that may not be in the cards yet.

How is your progress?

I know several other people took up my level-up challenge last year. How are you doing? Any progress since last year? Please leave a comment.

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. Congratulations on identifying Jan Gommeren as the actual father! That’s huge. Isn’t DNA wonderful?

    I did not take your challenge, but this year I have resolved to hire a professional genealogist to help me with my most proximate brick wall. I found a woman who specializes in exactly the area (the Hudson River Valley in New York) where the in-person research will need to be done. She is sending me a contract soon. I’m excited!

  2. Femke Nijveldt says

    It’s keeping me busy. When I read about this Level up challenge I realised I was just collecting data and documents. If I came across something, I looked it up so I have a lot of information. What I’ve been doing consistently from the start was capturing resources and that’s serving me well now. The quality of the documents is now so much better than 15 years ago. Thanks to the source reference, I can easily find and replace them.

    I limit myself to my husband’s ancestors (my brother is researching our ancestors and we have a lot of contact about that). I didn’t really know all those people, but I now know so much more about his ancestors and their families. Generation 2 is Amsterdam from birth to death and most of generation 3 and 4 are also from Amsterdam. The Amsterdam City Archives has a lot of information available digitally and I made frequent use of scanning on demand. My research now gives people a life of their own and gives me more satisfaction.

    My next goal is to focus on generation 5 and that will keep me busy for a while. This way of researching improves the quality of my data. Thanks for your blogs and the tips and tricks to take my research to the next level.

  3. David Grawrock says

    I’ve made a start on many of my lines. Nothing too great yet. I’ve thought long and hard about the “level” nature of this and I need to create a blog post to really flesh out my thoughts. I see the levels not as sequential but independent. That is I might find lots of information that provides property data but not know their job. Or a GPS on their jobs but not all the kids. Or … So I’ve moved in the direction of each bucket being independent and trying to keep track of how many buckets are filled in. And here I keep track of info in the bucket and do I have a GPS for that bucket (implying that some buckets meet the GPS where others don’t).

  4. Susan B Farmer says

    I have the same situation with the unknown father in hubby’s tree. And since it happened ca. 1820-ish, I can so see it as a regency romance novel!

    Not only are there are lots of matches to Dad’s siblings, there are lots of matches to Dad’s aunts and uncles!

  5. Sharyn Guthrie says

    Wow Yvette what an inspiration you are. I have been doing genealogy since pre internet and I know I have much research I have not written up properly. I’ve been sidetracked a lot with DNA which I love and need to apply myself to update put all the information I have researched into my tree.
    I’m thrilled that Jonny has added this to his Dimensions and I’m now going to see how my tree stacks up. Reading this highlights already for me some known gaps.
    Thank you for your ongoing work and sharing with your Genealogy knowledge and expertise. It’s always fascinating hearing how other people around the world approach this fascinating topic.
    Sharyn Guthrie
    New Plymouth, New Zealand

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