In need of some inspiration and new ideas to kickstart your genealogy research this week?
Perhaps you’ve hit a bit of slump in your genealogy research? Or maybe you’d just like to try a new strategy or two? Either way, we’ve pulled together 10 quick suggestions to help you step outside of your research comfort zone, explore new records and help you grow your tree. Give these ideas a try and see what you discover.
1. Try a New Family History Research Site
It’s awfully easy to get caught in a research trap by using the same sites over and over again – whether you tend to stay put on your favorite paid research site, or travel through a whole collection of pages you’ve come to love, we all form patterns in our research. There’s nothing wrong with that. But exploring new record collections is one of the best ways to make discoveries. Here is a list of 50 completely free research sites where you will find billions of new records to explore. Pick one and get researching!
2. Stop Researching Your Direct Ancestors
That’s right, if you’re feeling like you’ve hit a genealogy roadblock, or just need a new perspective, spend some time expanding your tree in new directions. By researching siblings, cousins and even neighbors you’ll discover even more about your direct ancestors. Read more about this strategy in our recent article “Are you making the direct-line mistake in your family tree?”
3. Don’t Overlook the Women
While women can certainly be harder to research than their male counterparts, there are tips and strategies that can help you expand their profiles and grow your tree. From finding a missing maiden name (see how to do this here) to exploring specific record collections that tend to contain more information about wives and mothers (more on that in this article) you might be surprised what you can uncover with a few new tricks up your sleeve.
4. Get Smart About Google Research
Google is a powerful friend to any family historian, but learning some tricks for how to make the most of your searches will take you even farther. If you haven’t already, read “6 ‘Secret’ Google Search Tricks for Genealogy That’ll Help You Find Your Ancestors” and put these strategies to work in your research today.
5. Try a Photo Search
Why not take a break from researching documents for a while, and start sifting through old photos instead. Not only can a photograph add a personal element to your research and help you uncover new information, there are more image databases available online than ever before. You’ll find a collection of free options for family history in this article.
6. Check Your Tree for Errors
There are few things worse for a family historian than spending days, months or even years developing a line of your tree only to discover that the line was wrong. This “blunder” is much more common than you might think and happens to even the most experienced researchers. Read “Are You Sure They’re Your Ancestors? This Genealogy Blunder is More Common Than Ever” for help avoiding and fixing this.
7. Educate Yourself
Educating yourself if by far one of the best ways to discover new strategies, expand your research options and grow your tree. From online courses that will help you become a savvy researcher or learning how to make the most of a favorite research site (see our Unofficial Ancestry Crash Course), to reading some of the amazing genealogy books on the market, options abound for curious researchers. Check out “15 Genealogy Books You Can Read for Free With Kindle Unlimited,” or discover how to find free family history books on Amazon with a Google search.
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8. Break Down an Old Brick Wall
If you’ve hit a brick wall in your research you are no doubt eager to make a discovery that will help you overcome it. It is important to regularly go back to those areas of your tree that you may have abandoned in the past and reexamine them again. You might find that you are finally able to make some new progress. Check out 13 reasons you may not be able to break down your brick walls for some help.
9. Add a New Generation or Two
This one’s pretty obvious, but not always so simple. While we all know that adding the parents of an ancestor opens up whole new branches to research in our tree, most of us will encounter problems locating the parents we’re looking for a some point or another. We’ve created a list of uncommon places to locate hard-to-find parents here to help you move past this obstacle in your tree.
10. Take a DNA Test
If you are ready to really take your research in a new direction, it might be time to explore genetic genealogy. Using DNA in your research adds a whole new layer of potential information to explore and connections that may help you expand your tree. We’ve created a comprehensive breakdown of the 4 top genealogy tests on the market today to help you choose the one that fits you. You can read it here.
By Melanie Mayo, Editor Family History Daily