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I have hit a brick wall with my family history research. What can I do?

When you encounter an obstacle, such as an inability to find an official registration (like a birth, death or marriage record), you need to start thinking laterally.

Apart from the official registration process, there may also be records of a religious nature, such as those kept by a church documenting marriages and christenings. Employment records can also contain details of birth dates and places, as well as information on spouses. The odd gem may also turn up in the local paper of the area in which the person in question lived.

As always, if you’re stuck, you can reach out to others on our message boards or on our Facebook page.

How do I search for databases on

As a lot of you know, there are an enormous number of databases on And, given the complex nature of ‘search,’ you might never come across some of the buried treasures within by using only the standard search interface. So how do you find these gems?

Go to the Search page and click on the link to the Card Catalogue to the right of the search box or select Card Catalogue from the options under Search on the navigation bar. Here you will have the option to enter database titles and keywords.

It’s often worthwhile having a browse through the Card Catalogue when you’re searching for ancestors from a particular area, as we have a number of newspapers, directories and local histories. Even if they don’t include your particular people, these resources can give you an insight into some of the cultural aspects of their lives – helping you put ‘meat on the bones’.

Some of the great material sitting quietly on the virtual shelves of our database library includes:

Click here to search the Card Catalogue. 

Happy browsing!