What are Genealogy Brick Walls?



At some point, you're going to run into a genealogy brick wall. But do you really have a brick wall or a case that just needs more research?


Brick Walls in Genealogy are the WORST!


In a forum recently, someone wanted to give up after two years of researching their ancestor.


Finding the identity of my grandmother’s biological father took, well, all of her 92 years of life plus another 5. Two years seems like nothing in comparison!

Le’ts define genealogy brick walls so we can eventually tackle them.



What is a Genealogy Brick Wall?


According to the blog, Kindred Past, “a brick wall to me means a problem that you have been working on for a long time with little success.”


Meanwhile, the Legacy Tree Genealogists says, “brick walls often used to refer to tough research problems, apparent dead-ends that after many hours of searching still yield no answers.”


Family Tree Magazine writer David A. Fryxell suggests that you’ve truly hit a genealogy after you have:

  • Exhausted all online records

  • You’ve explored documents that are available to the public but offline

  • You’re resolved maiden name mysteries

  • You know the records you need have been destroyed

  • The specific documents you need were never created

  • The only available sources are ‘compiled’ genealogies

  • You’ve researched relatives that lived in the same place


↪️ Are you struggling to break through your brick walls?

Grab your copy of this FREE Brick Wall Busting Guide:



Brick Wall Busting is Not for Beginners


No matter which way you define a genealogy brick wall, tackling one should not be the first family history project you tackle. I've written before about how genealogy brick wall busting is not for beginners. In previous research series about William James Townley, I had to utilize a lot of indirect evidence to prove my case.


In my soon to be released Brick Wall Busting Series on YouTube, I discuss the steps I've taken to validated John Townley, my fourth great-grandfather, and his parents. In the series, I tackle a lot of theories and demonstrate how I applied them to his challenging research question.


If You're A New Genealogist, Study How to Research


If you are a beginning genealogist, you can learn a lot from watching the genealogy research process in action. You should also find a place to ask a lot of questions. You can do that in the Family History Fanatics community on YouTube, Facebook, or right here on the blog.


However, the first step to breaking down a brick wall is to educate yourself. Check out the following videos and blog posts.


Additional "What Are Genealogy Brick Wall?" Show Notes


A reference for all blog posts and videos mentioned in the YouTube episode.


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