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Climbing Your Family Tree | Our Prairie Nest

Everyone has different techniques when it comes to genealogical research. My techniques have ranged from setting aside regular time to research to nonexistent (especially after having a baby). Most genealogists utilize a combination of methods to delve into their family history. I’m not referring to using the internet or tracking down certain records, but how we actually decide to go about our research with regard to the family tree itself. Here are three different approaches to get you started:

One Branch at a Time

This is probably where you will begin as you build your family tree. Roughly four times a year, I revisit this technique of climbing my entire family tree, from me, up through each and every single ancestor. It leads me to “brick wall ancestors,” to whom I must devote extra time and energy, and to other loose ends.

Tying up Loose Ends

These are the people who just need the smallest amount of research to verify dates and places. Usually I find them in my immigrant ancestors in the 1600’s. Then there is the ongoing battle, the never-ending endeavor of…

Tackling the Brick Wall

I think all of us have to do this with a handful of ancestors, if not more. When it comes to these ancestors, it feels like they were dropped on the planet with nothing but a name! They might have come from an obscure childhood or traveled from one country or state to another, but no one seems to know their actual place of origin. We focus on our brick wall ancestors and sometimes devote hours, days, weeks, even months and years to them.

I have a few, most of whom are immigrant ancestors. When I work specifically on them, they are the sole focus of my research.  However, I always take a break, so I can come back with fresh eyes a few times a year.

Occasionally, I also like to go through every name in my genealogy software. That’s a huge task, because I have over 12,000 names (which is conservative compared to many other genealogists!). However, doing this once a year allows me to find people I’ve forgotten and review what might be missing from their profile. That’s manageable with 12,000 people, but I imagine it wouldn’t be after a point.

Figuring out your process (or processes) of going through your family tree may take time, but there is no wrong way to do it.