Having a full-time job means I spend a lot of time away from my family tree. More time than I like. But, in a way, it is a good thing. When looking at your family tree day in and day out, it can be frustrating, making you feel stuck and getting nowhere.
I have also had people tell me that they do not like the subscriptions to the big databases because they have taken all records that they have to give. But, this is not true. Remember, the big databases add new records all the time, meaning new hints are bound to occur. For instance, Family Search added about 180 new records from different countries, including the U.S. just last month. Find My Past updated titles and added new titles. Ancestry also updates and adds records regularly, lately adding about 40-50 collections. Chronicling America, one of my favorite newspaper databases, does the same thing. They’ve added and updated 100s of records. MyHeritage is doing the same, adding billions of records each year.
The old adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is true for taking a break from your research or at least move it in a different direction. During my recent vacation, I hopped on Ancestry and learned that I had some new hints on one of my proverbial brick walls, my 7th great-grandmother. Low and behold, it was her will! That will listed her children and grandchildren! That hint led me to her father and his will! I have been able to add her mother and siblings, expanding that whole line.
You can also take a break by moving in a different direction. For instance, a lot of people tend to focus solely on their direct line. By not researching sideways; brothers, sisters, cousins, etc., you are missing out on a full picture of your direct ancestor. You can then develop a more detailed picture of their lives. When I first started out, I did this exact thing. I concentrated only on my direct lines. By adding their siblings and their children, I’ve been able to expand my tree so much.
You do not need to stop researching to take a break. I like to review some of the sources I have attached to an ancestor. With experience, I’ve learned more about reading records. I review older sources and often find some information I have overlooked or apply what I have learned to that older source.
Remember, not all family records are online. Archives, libraries, and local family history societies may be able to help. Write to a few and see what they have. They are very helpful and sometimes will assist you for free.
You can also look into an ancestor’s social history. The history around your ancestor can add context to the world your ancestors lived in. The internet, including YouTube is full of how-to videos with research tips you haven’t tried yet or a record collection you haven’t heard of.
Do not let that brick wall stop you! Take a break, go a different route and get a fresh outlook for when you return.
If you need someone to take a look at a brick wall you have, give me a shout. I am happy to dig around and give you a fresh angle to search.