Do You Have an Artificial Brick Wall?

Do You Have an Artificial Brick Wall?

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by Robyn Smith

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Do You Have an Artificial Brick Wall?


Genealogists are famous for their brick walls. However, many of the things we call brick walls are more likely the result of some common errors, such as relying too heavily on the Internet, not reviewing original sources and focusing too closely on only the person or couple of interest. These create what Ms. Smith calls artificial brick walls and in this lecture, Ms. Smith describes these errors along with others. Developing better practices and learning new skills will go a long way towards solving many of our genealogical problems.


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Presenter: Robyn Smith

Robyn Smith has been researching her family and others for over 20 years. An engineer by day, Robyn applies those research and problem-solving skills to the field of genealogy. She specializes in Maryland, African American, Slavery and Court Records research. From 2008-2015, Robyn taught an Advanced African American Genealogy class at Howard Community College in Columbia, MD. She is a Past Vice-President of the Central Maryland Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS). Ms. Smith also lectures and writes extensively about family history research. She is the author of numerous published genealogy articles and for over ten years has authored a genealogy teaching blog called Reclaiming Kin ( In 2015, Ms. Smith published the book version of her blog, “The Best of Reclaiming Kin,” which was recommended in the syllabus at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. Robyn has lectured at Family History Center annual conferences, as well as national genealogical conferences. She has spoken at the Maryland State Archives Genealogy Conference and served as one of their volunteer genealogists in 2014 and 2015. She also lectured at the Reginald Lewis Museum in 2011. In 2017, Robyn was awarded the Paul Edward Sluby Sr. Jean Sampson-Scott Meritorious Achievement Award for Distinguished Performance in Support of African American History and Genealogy. In addition to writing and teaching, Robyn also has a special passion for documenting the histories of African American communities and promoting adherence to genealogical standards.

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