Genealogy “brick walls” come in a variety of styles. Some result from inadequate research. Some result from records that are unavailable, unindexed, or difficult search. Some result from records that were never kept. Some result from incorrect stories family members told us–either orally or in information they left in official records.

And some brick walls stem from our own misconceptions or lack of understanding.

Sometimes it’s a word or legal document that we do not understand. Sometimes it is a church record or process that is unfamiliar to us. And other times it’s because we assume that our ancestors were “just like us.”

In some ways they are. But in other ways they are not. Your ancestor’s life was different in ways beyond how they got their food, how they got their news, and where they used the restroom. Those differences are important, but they are the easiest differences to see. It’s the ones that are not always so visible that can be more of a challenge. Your ancestor in 1800 may have had an entirely different perspective on life based upon their own social class, ethnic group, educational background, childhood experience, etc. All of that may have been different from your own experience. And all of that could have impacted personal and financial decisions they made throughout their life–and the records they left behind.



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