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5 places to research when you are stumped

woman handwriting research

You’ve hit a roadblock in your research. Not a huge one but a roadblock nonetheless. 

So what is to be done? You could swear off doing genealogy ever again. You could take a breather from researching that person and turn your focus to someone else. 

Or you could go back to the basics. I  know these resources below aren’t new to many genealogists, but when you’re stumped it’s best to give them a try instead of doing nothing at all.  

5 places to research when you are stumped

  1. Post to Facebook groups. There is a group for everything! I belong to several genealogy groups ranging from research help to specific surnames to geographic areas. Whenever I need extra help I post a question to the appropriate group and within hours I have a new direction to research. The best part about this is you are collaborating with other genealogists and making new friendships. What can be better than that?
  2. Google your ancestor. Confession: I don’t remember to do this for every person I’m researching but I really should. It really pays to google who you are researching. Let me give you an example.
    1. I was researching Samuel P. Dinsmore, a distant cousin of mine. In Ancestry I was finding the usual suspects: census records, city directories, obituary index. I googled him to see what else I could find. Oh my gosh! I found a treasure trove of information! Samuel was the owner and editor of a newspaper based in New York City. The city would place ads in his paper. There was a dispute on the agreed upon price and Samuel and later his son Bryant W. Dinsmore would take the case all the way to the New York State Supreme Court. Online I was able to find the Court Case and the decision from the court. What a find!
  3. Connect with distant relatives. You see the same trees over and over again that mirror and support your research.  Why not reach out to that person and get to know a distant relative? They may have the key piece of information you have been looking for. If not, you at least get to know another relative! Not sure how to connect with a relative? Read this post.  It’s a win for both of you!
  4. Research newspaper articles. Websites like or is a great way to potentially research your ancestor in the newspaper. While they are subscription sites you do get 7 days free. Utilize the free time! You might find an obituary notice or an article that mentions them. Either way, it deepens your knowledge about them. 
  5. Use I have a love hate relationship with Find a Grave. Sometimes you don’t find anything, sometimes you hit the mother load. So for that reason, it’s always worth it to research there. 
What does this have to do with Storytelling? 

Breaking through your road block leads to a deeper understanding of your ancestor. The more research you collect about an ancestor the richer and more meaningful your family story will be. Spend some time writing, video recording and sharing the information you have found. 

I hope you aren’t stumped for too long. Enjoy your research journey. 


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