10 Tips for Mapping Your Family History

Patience Is a Virtue
It might take a while to fill in some missing blanks on your tree but the hunt is part of the fun. Kim Carson/Photodisc/Thinkstock

The genealogy sites just discussed are home to a ton of great info, but can't possibly be stacked with every last detail. Besides, if they were, uncovering the family history would be a fraction of the fun, right? Our lovely planet is and has been home to lots of people, often bearing similar names, so it's very common for genealogy research to be stalled from time to time.

If your grandfather's name was John Smith, how can you separate his records from the other John Smiths out there? The more details you fill in search parameters (his wife's name, his date and place of birth), the more you can narrow it down. Or if your grandmother had an unusual maiden name, start your search looking for her records. Patience and persistence can pay off in spades, since people are constantly posting new files and documents to the Web. "I searched for a marriage certificate for three years and finally gave up," recounts Burnley. "I decided to Google it one day out of boredom and, "poof!" there it was in the very first result."