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Putting it All Together

We would like to synthesize everything that has been discussed in this article by proposing a routine methodology that you can follow when searching for your ancestors. This methodology is a systematic way to help you focus your search efforts.

Simply follow the steps below when searching for an ancestor:

1. Write down the first, middle and last name of your ancestor each on a separate line.

2. Write down the name of any spouse, also on a separate line.

3. Write down the names of any children, one per line.

4. Write down the name of the parents, one per line.

5. Write down everywhere your ancestor lived (and died), one per line.

6. Write down roughly when your ancestor was born and when they died on separate lines.

7. Write down any jobs or industry your ancestor worked in, one per line.

8. Write down any other word fact you may know about your ancestor, one per line.

The result might look something like below.


Think of the information that you have collected about your ancestor as a data set to be mined. Your greatest chance of success can be achieved by focussing on the most unique aspects of the data set.

To put this another way, by combining a series of facts about your ancestor and treating each fact as a label, it is possible to find many ancestors, even ones with common names. Here are just some of the many possible searches you could do:

<john smith mary>
<john smith robert>
<john smith josiah>
<john smith franklin>
<john smith lancaster>
<smith lancaster stonemason>
<john smith lancaster 1790>

The simple act of writing out all the known facts about a particular ancestor and then focusing your internet search on the most unique aspects of that particular ancestor is a very powerful way to break through those inevitable genealogy brick walls. It will help you narrow your search pattern until you archive a positive outcome.

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