Is There Such a Thing As Brick Walls?


Do genealogy “brick walls” actually exist?

Some say they do and others say they don’t. I say the debate is moot. What people usually mean by “brick wall” is a point at which they are stuck. And almost all of us get to a point where we are stuck. Sometimes these points of being stuck are places where records simply do not exist to take us further back.

And sometimes those stuck points result from one or more of the following factors:

  • our inability to access all extant records (which may not be our fault);
  • our ignorance of certain terminology, laws, social customs, historical context, etc.;
  • our unwillingness to let go of certain family traditions, hastily drawn conclusions, or assumptions;
  • our inability to locate certain records because there are things about the person we don’t know (but which we need to know to locate the record);
  • our failure to adequately analyze information already located;
  • our confusion because what has been located is confusing;
  • our unwillingness to learn about all available records;
  • our personal misfortune to descend from people who left few records, lived life outside social norms, or were simply a few bricks shy of a load.

A true brick wall, in my opinion, is when we’ve exhausted all available materials and have extended the ancestry to the earliest available records. Other times we are probably at a stuck point.

And depending on the situation, it can be difficult to get beyond that stuck point.



For those whose brick walls are not of the permanent nature, our most recent “brick wall” webinar may be helpful. While I don’t think “brick wall” is the best phrase to use, it does resonate with readers.

25 Brick Wall Strategies

If you’ve enjoyed our “Brick Wall” series, this one will revisit some of our more popular approaches along with new examples and a few new tricks thrown in the mix. Sometimes it never hurts to hear something again, if only for the reminder. This presentation will include a handout with the concepts discussed and brief examples demonstrating the approach.brickwallbuesters

Order this presentation for immediate download.


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