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50 Best Genealogy Brick Wall Solutions(Part I)

"I have not failed. I've just found ten thousand ways that won't work." Thomas Edison

At some point, every family historian encounters a barrier in their genealogy research. In genealogy, these barriers are known as brick walls and they can often appear impossible to work around.

When you have exhausted all the obvious possibilities, consider the less obvious. This article is all about the less obvious. It is a compilation of some of the best genealogy brick wall solutions that we have accumulated over the years.

We hope that some of these genealogy brickwall solutions will give you that “Aha!” moment that will enable you to dig deeper into your family’s past. Good luck and happy hunting!

Check out our collection of free genealogy brick wall images that you can use as background images for your computer monitor.


Names are often the first brickwall that people researching their ancestors stumble upon. Here are some suggestions to work around name brickwalls.

1. Maiden Names - Most countries have some kind of national identification number. In the United States they are called Social Security Numbers; in Canada they are called Social Insurance Numbers. Most countries also allow genealogists to search the application forms for these records if the record is older than a specified cut-off date (usually several decades, it varies by country). These applications always list the mother’s maiden name. This is one of the few places on official records where maiden names are found.

2. Maiden Names Again – Another extremely useful place to find a woman’s maiden name are in court documents. Divorce cases, property disputes, immigrant change of name, applications for guardianship of a child, etc. all required a woman’s maiden name. It should be noted that in early court documents (pre-1900 in the US), a woman was often represented by her husband, father or uncle so be sure to search under their names as well.

3. Middle Names – Names are more fluid than most people realize. It is not unheard of for people to start showing a preference to refer to themselves on official records by their middle name. This can happen even once a person reaches middle age. Always cross check archival records by first name and middle name.

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