Brick Wall Bertha: Step 4 – A Genealogy Case Study

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Step 4 of the Genealogy Brick Wall Busting Process is to Make a Research Plan. Let’s check back in on our case study of “Brick Wall” Bertha. I can’t wait to make a plan and dig back into the research phase!

Watch This Episode, or Continue Reading Below

If you missed the overview of Brick Wall Busting Step 4, or if you’d like to review Steps 1, 2, & 3, you can find the links below.

Now let’s jump in and make a research plan to make progress on the Brick Wall Bertha project.

The Research Plan

The first task in creating a research plan is to choose some formatting and organization options. I chose to format this research plan as a table in a word processing document.

I created a separate table for each locality where the research will be performed. For the Bartons, this means one table for Oklahoma, another for Louisiana, and a third for Missouri.

Each table has three columns:

  • parameters – this is where I list the names and date range for this search
  • what I am looking for – where I list specifically what I want to find in the source or record
  • source – where I list the specific source(s) that I will search to (hopefully) answer my question

Converting Steps 1-3 to Action Items

After I had the research plan format, organization, and columns laid out, I gathered all the materials created for Steps 1-3 of this project.

I simply went down each gap, discrepancy, question, or other data problem noted during those earlier steps and converted each item into an entry on the research plan.

Below is a sample of the gaps and discrepancies list made during Step 3 when I analyzed everything known about Bertha:

List of gaps and discrepancies found during Step 3

Bullet point #1 on the gaps list is that I had not ordered the full land patent files pertaining to the land patents granted to the Bartons in Louisiana and Oklahoma. Below, this item has been added to the research plan:

Louisiana section of the Bertha Barton Research Plan

Bullet point #2 on the gaps list is about additional land the Bartons owned in Oklahoma. Below, this item has been added to the research plan with several specific sources I will search to answer the question I have.

Oklahoma section of the Bertha Barton Research Plan

Bullet point #4 on the gaps list is about the minister and church where the Bartons’ marriage certificate states they were married. I want to find out more about the minister and the church records that might have additional information about the Bartons. This item was added to the research plan along with some specific sources to look in, as seen below:

Missouri section of the Bertha Barton Research Plan

Finishing the Research Plan

I will continue adding each note and issue found during Steps 1-3 as an action item on the research plan. Then, I will be ready and excited to dig back into the research in an organized and methodical way.

Patiently working through each of these steps will help me crack open the Brick Wall Bertha case! I am sure it will, I have successfully used these steps on dozens of other brick wall cases.

We’ll see you here again soon to talk about what we should do after completing each item of research from our plan.

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