There are few countries where family history is more popular than the United States. This is in spite of the fact that American genealogists face brickwalls not found in many other countries. Here are seven brickwalls American researchers will likely encounter.
1. Immigration. Discovering an immigrant’s place of origin is one of the biggest challenges in American genealogy, particularly colonial immigrants and nineteenth-century Irish immigrants.
2. Record loss. Courthouse fires, wars, floods, and earthquakes have wreaked havoc on American historical documents.
3. Maiden names. Unlike other European countries, where women did not lose their maiden names at marriage, in the United States they did. The result is lack of knowledge of many women’s maiden names.
4. Migration. Individuals who constantly moved westward can be difficult to place in birth families.
5. Slavery. The lack of surnames and documentation on black slaves makes reconstructing their families very difficult.
6. Frontier. Few records were kept in pioneer areas, particularly regarding intermarriages between Europeans and American Indians.
7. Religious freedom. Religious freedom in the United States blocked the formation of an established church. In contrast to European nations, where priests and ministers faithfully recorded the majority of parishioners baptisms, marriages, and burials, these records are often absent in American research.
With persistence, the proper education, experience, and patience, some of these brickwalls can be overcome.