Genealogy Studies Program

Creative Solutions for When You Hit a Brick Wall

It is very common for Genealogists to hit what may seem like dead ends when tracing family lineage. For that reason, GenealogyInTime Magazine compiled a list of 50 creative solutions to address some of these common issues.

Here are a few of their top solutions:

Finding Maiden Names. This can be very difficult as you work your way up the family tree. Most countries have a national identification number (Social Security number in the US, Social Insurance Number in Canada, etc.) These applications always list the mother’s maiden name.
Middle Names. It is not uncommon for people to start going by their middle name on official documents at some point in their lives. This can happen even when a person reaches middle age. For that reason, be sure to search for records by first and middle name.

Aliases. In historical records, people commonly used aliases. Some popular patterns of constructing aliases were using the middle name as a last name, using the mother’s maiden name as a last name, and anglicizing a non-English family name.

Utilizing Electoral Rolls. Electoral rolls are arguably the most powerful yet overlooked resource available to genealogists they are often kept at the municipal or city level to allow local authorities to know who is registered to vote. Electoral rolls are often updated on a set schedule, usually at a much higher frequency than census records, and are a good way to narrow down the date range to find out when somebody died or moved out of a region.

Underage Soldiers. Underage soldiers are a common problem during periods of large scale conflicts. When tracing a male ancestor, try to determine how old they were when major military conflicts broke out in the region. If they were 14 or older, then they may have signed on as soldiers even if they were not of legal age. Most armies were happy to take them regardless, and would often turn a blind eye to such activity. Just be aware that underage soldiers (who lacked proof of age) would often sign on under an alias or fake their age.

To see all 50 Brick Wall Solutions, read the full article on GenealogyInTime Magazine.