Overcoming Obstacles

Throughout your life, you will occasionally encounter roadblocks to completing what you want. Little speed bumps and large walls will attempt to turn you off course. For example, if you want to complete some of your research on a family member, and you cannot locate any good information on them.  What do you do?


Overcoming Obstacles


It helps to think about the missing genealogical data by breaking it down into smaller pieces:

First - Is this information really necessary?  Is this an obstacle that really that needs to be overcome.  Sure, it might be nice to find out the middle name of your great-grandma’s 5th grade teacher’s name.  However, is that information truly essential to your discovering and understanding who your family member was and the meaning of it to you? If you are at a roadblock with your research, consider if you can simply move on without that piece of information.

Second -  Character is key. If this information is absolutely essential for you to move forward with your research into your family’s past, do not dismiss the old character traits of persistence and patience.  If you have only checked 300 documents, maybe you are not doing enough.  Perhaps you will need to check 3,000 documents before you uncover the truth that you are seeking.  Don’t be afraid to sweat a little, just be sure to keep it off of the artifacts.  Andrew Carnegie is said to have once uttered this cliché, “Anything in life worth having is worth working for”.  This is true.  Keep looking.  Keep researching. 

Third - Come at the problem sideways.  Take a look at the tack you are taking to research your genealogical issue.  Is this something that you have researched to death and you are still unable to find an answer?  Think about finding another way to approach the question.  For example, you may find that a sideways trek down an alternate family line could actually yield you some answers around your obstacle.

Fourth - Location, location, location.  Consider where your ancestor came from. Learning more about the environment where they lived may provide some clues to research.  Think about what information might have been left behind. Could there be a paper trail that can be followed there? 

Finally:  Don’t be afraid to double-back later.  Not all obstacles can be overcome and not all data can be found.  Sometimes you must accept that the answers or information that you are seeking does not actually exist; or that you will not find it at this time.  Accept that hole in your information as something you can come back to at a later time.