Family History Tip: Focus on one thing | The Nosey Genealogist's: Help Me With My Family Tree
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Family History Tip: Focus on one thing

by Nick Thorne, The Nosey Genealogist on November 15th, 2015

Stoneywell typewriter

“Give me a tip on how to break down my brick wall!” said the old fashioned letter I received in my post box.

“Just try to focus your attention on one bit of information that you want to find out about and stop chasing all the other results about your ancestor!” I replied in my note back, “at least until you find the answer to your burning question.”

What I meant by this, and explained further in my reply, is that so often we set out to find something about an ancestor but get distracted. When we enter the person’s name, into the search box on the data site, all the other records that are presented to us can be a distraction. Like the proverbial kid in the sweet shop we go off dipping into this one and the next and soon we have strayed from what we went onto the site in the first place for.

So if my correspondent’s brick wall was where their ancestor lived in a certain time period, then that is what they should zoom in on while leaving all the other records to one side and pursue this goal.

I remember seeing this advice given recently on the Family History Daily website and it makes so much sense. http://familyhistorydaily.com/tips-and-tricks/6-tips-for-more-effective-genealogy-searches/

The writer of the tips article does advise you to save any other interesting information that you have turned up to go back to and look at later, but they strongly advise against getting sidetracked.

Keep working on the one piece of information only and if the records you are looking through turn up nothing, tweak your search again and again until you are satisfied that you have explored every angle.

I do love the data websites that allow you to Search All Records, as sometimes it is exciting and useful to use this option; but when we have a brick wall to smash down our best option is often to restrict our search to a particular database and then try various spellings and other variations to see if we can tease out the information we require. There are other techniques that you can also use as well, but this is a really good place to start.

I hope this idea helps someone this week get past a logjam in their research.

 

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