Do You Have an Artificial Brick Wall?

Robyn Smith
Jan 13, 2021
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2m 11s
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Speaker's Introduction
1m 47s
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11m 28s
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Examine Original Sources
13m 57s
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Expect the Unexpected
6m 52s
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Resolve Conflicting Information
6m 29s
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Verifying Parents
9m 38s
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Study Genealogy
5m 55s
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Announcements / prizes
11m 39s
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Questions / answers
19m 42s

About this webinar

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.

About the speaker

About the speaker

Robyn Smith has been researching her family and others for over 25 years. An engineer by day, Robyn applies those research and problem-solving skills to the field of genealogy. She specializes in Maryland, Court Records, African American and Slave
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  1. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Very helpful tips

    5 Stars!

    A delight to listen to as she explains her process in a very comprehensive way but understandable too.

    A good reminder about checking all possible sources, and mistakes to avoid.

    a lot of very good information thanks

    A well done presentation.

    Absolutely fabulous! I learned so much. I moved to Maryland a little more than a year ago. I’m anxious to join a genealogy group here. Can’t wait til she comes back! I look forward to checking out her website and email information! Thank you so much for having her!!!!

    Although I have no Black ancestors that I know of, this webinar was an excellent resource to remind me of several things, i.e., careful analyzing of records, digging deeper int census records and learning enumerator questions and instructions, and I learned of a resource I’ve never heard of — state Blue Books!

    Always learn something from each webinar!

    An excellent webinar. Robyn Smith is a delight to listen to and provided a lot of useful information that is easily overlooked!


    An other good one

    Awesome! I need to watch it again — there’s so much information.

    AWESOME!!! So informative, well organized, and well presented with humor intermingled. Thank you so much, Robyn. ‘Looking forward to attending your next webinar!

    Best presentation I have seen in my 22 years of genealogy research. Great clarity and depth. Just the inspiration I need to write about my own family.

    Best webinar I’ve seen. The speaker was just a wonderful communicator. Examples displayed were helpful. Content was so relevant. Thank you for providing this seminar.

    clear presentation

    Clear, concise, & complete. Great webinar.

    deserves at 10. Solid information well presented

    Detailed. organized, valuable insights for recognizing artificial brick walls.

  2. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Easy to follow

    Even though she used Afro-American examples, it really works for all of us. It was an excellent presentation and not so technical as to discourage any one.

    Excellent and informative webinar. I got so much info. Great way for me to start the New Year genealogical research,

    Excellent combination of practical methods and great real-life examples. My jaw dropped over some of the records our speaker found.

    Excellent content. Well organized and presented.

    Excellent information and helpful tips

    Excellent information and pace. Kept my interest all along and gave me some new sources to check for ancestoral information. Bring her back!

    Excellent information presented in an easy to understand way.

    Excellent information, very engaging speaker! Motivating me to look closer, dig deeper and stick to my main goals! I’m too easily distracted. Thanks.

    Excellent information. I am going to re-visit my information to see if I can break my brick walls

    Excellent information. Thank you!

    Excellent presentation

    Excellent presentation

    Excellent Presentation and stayed on track!

    Excellent presentation and very informational. My first – I’ll be back!

    Excellent presentation and very informative

    Excellent presentation, very informative. I learned so much about Maryland resources that I did not know existed. This webinar put me on the right track to search for my Baltimore and Harford ancestors. Thank you Robin. Happy Hunting & Successful Searches. Blessings!

    Excellent presentation. I feel like I got a jumpstart on my “re-do” efforts.

    Excellent presenter in her positive yet realistic guidance. Will look for her teaching again.

    excellent speaker

    Excellent speaker and content.

    Excellent speaker and great info!

    excellent speaker and lots of great tips!

    Excellent speaker and very informative program. Thank you.

    Excellent speaker, well-paced presentation.

    Excellent speaker. Loved the way she covered the topic, step by step using her family, it was easy to relare to.

    Excellent speaker. Very knowledgeable, Learned several new things to do with my brick walls. Thank You!!

    Excellent webinar! Thank you!

    Excellent webinar. Lots of wonderful information and tips for expanding your research. Great speaker and good use of visuals.

    Excellent with Robyn Smith!!

    Excellent! I learned quite a lot.

    Excellent! Robyn is a fabulous presenter, with great info.

    Excellent, but so much information she presented everything pretty fast. Would have to see the recording to pick up a number of her suggestions.

    Excellent, clear advice

    Excellent, organized presentation. Robyn spoke slowly and clearly. Easy to follow and understand.

    This is my first seminar. Thank you. I can’t wait to view more!

    Excellent, very informative, well organized and presented!

    Excellent. Can’t wait to sign up for more free webinars. I have ancestors from Canada; looking forward to O Canada; looking forward to Thomas MacEntee also.

    Excellent. Provided some great hints on where to look when all else has failed.

    Excellent. I definitely need to work on my skills.

    excellent. Thank you Robyn

    Excellent–only wish the handout had more info from the presentation.

    Extremely informative and enjoyable!

    Extremely knowledgeable speaker with a great speaking voice. I wish I had as many family pictures as she has – and they really added to her presentation.

  3. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Fantastic presentation!!!!


    felt it was more for american genealogy. Mine is UK

    First timer. Thoroughly enjoyed the webinar. Genealogist for over 25 years.

    Full of information I was not aware of


    Good ideas in syllabus for searches

    Good presentation. Lots of places to check. Thanks.

    Good presentation. Robyn is an excellent speaker.

    Good speaker and she made use of family matters to illustrate her methods and houghtsd

    Great but will have to figure out how to translate all of it to cover Canada. Thanks.

    Great examples were provided.

    Great ideas of places to explore that I hadn’t thought of. Thanks so much.

    Great info.

    great information

    Great information.

    great instruction, well presented

    great presentation

    Great presentation content. Presenter was excellent!

    Great presentation voice.

    Great presentation!!!

    Great Presentation, Thank You.

    Great presentation. Robyn had lots of practical advice on how and where to search for those elusive folks in our lines–and she has a really nice presentation style. I’m inspired!

    Great presentation. Excellent speaker!

    Great presentation. Well put. No excuses now! Take down that wall! Even if it is self-inflicted.

    Great presentation…

    Great speaker and although I am a Canadian and my research criteria are much different the principles still are very relevant.

    Great speaker and subject

    Great speaker and was very interesting to hear about all the sources that are available.

    Great speaker with a terrific heart!

    great speaker! Well organized presentation!

    Great speaker, succinct, helpful. Good reminders to do you homework, don’t make assumptions.

    Great speaker.

    Great speaker… easy to understand… very informative. Thank you.

    Great subject and usable examples. Fantastic speaker!

    Great tips for all research to avoid the brick walls.

    Great webinar on what you might think in a brick wall that really isn’t a brick wall once you starting researching the different sources.

    Great webinar with lots of useful information. I enjoyed the comical slides.

    Great webinar

    Great webinar, need to re-watch to explore the content deeper.

    Great webinar, very informative and useful!

    Great webinar. Looking forward to using the steps she laid out to overcome my brick walls.

    Great! excellent ideas combined with an excellent presentation.

  4. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Helpful information

    Her slide presentation was as excellent as her entire presentation. Good info…

    Hi, I am from Australia and do not have any connection to African/American people, that I know of, however, I found it fascinating and could relate a lot of what was being said for research here and in the UK. Also, it was amazing how much you said jogged the old memory. Many thanks Robyn for talking to us today.

    I did not get to watch the whole webinar, but will definitely watch the whole Webinar later. I love her presentation style, and the great information and tips she presents.

    I enjoyed today’s webinar. I learned some very helpful information. I look forward to attending future events.

    I learned a great deal of information.

    I learned a lot about searching for clues. Thanks, Robyn.

    I learned dozens of strategies and resource ideas to try! Can’t wait to start! Thank you Robyn!

    I learned so much from Robyn. Loved it!!!

    I learned so much from this webinar. Robyn is a master of research methodology. I can’t wait to try some of her suggestions!

    I loved her laugh and manner of presentation. This was a fun webinar with good tips for searching in person which I have not done. On line research has been my only mode and am now motivated to at least go to the local courthouse and library. Due to my age and health I cannot travel. Thank you for this webiner.

    I really need more info on how to get through brick walls in England and Sweden

    i received several tips that will help in locating my paternal great uncles and aunts.

    I sometimes wish Legacy webinars contained more Canadian content (yes, I know you are starting the O Canada series). Speakers could show screen shots of Canadian sites. That being said, Robyn did a GREAT job! I loved all the illustrations!!! Just staying a PowerPoint presentations can get very mind-numbing but all her illustrations kept that from happening. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    I was a little fast without a syllabus. I enjoyed my first webinar discussing brick walls.

    I would have loved to hear her thoughts about how you sort out the birth dates and which one you are likely to believe when there are 3 to choose from. I know how I’ve tried to evaluate them, but I’d have loved to hear her thoughts there. I’m looking forward to re-listening tomorrow so I can catch anything I missed.

    Information was presented in a manner that was easy to understand and use in your researching efforts. Excellent job.

    informative and easy to follow

    Informative and well delivered.

    It helped by listing the many records to search for information. My Brick wall is trying to find the information in Ireland. Very good seminar.

    It was a lot of information, but I’d prefer to see this kind of webinar that errs on the side of giving too much than a slow-paced webinar that just drags on. Very good speaker.

    It was wonderful!

    Learned a lot!!

    Learned some new places to research

    Learned some new strategies and that I really need to flesh out my tree and do a littlemore cluster research. Thanks so much for making this available. Robyn was great at explaining and instructing!

    lnteresting! Worth attending and watching again!

    Lot of info to digest. Very helpful.

    Lots of good info, and a great reminder about assuming that children shown on census records are the children of the husband and wife shown. Reminds me of importance of comparing one piece of evidence with another.

    lots of useful information; lots of work ahead!!!!

    Loved the presenter. Entertaining, knowledgeable, and presented the information very well.

    Maybe I don’t have a brick wall after all.

    Ms. Robyn Smith gave an excellent presentation. It was a great overview of under used sources and new tools to research.

    My eyes have been opened to various strategies on identifying correct ancestors, as well as locating descendants and extended family. Wonderful information!

    One of the best and most relevant webinars I have seen. Her slides were some of the best ever, and she was able to talk about them without sounding like she was reading from a script. I may want to watch it again, as some of the slides went by too quickly to take everything in. Bravo!

    One of the best ever! Just in time for my do-over!

    One of the best I’ve had

    One of the best webinars on solving brick walls that I’ve ever heard. Robyn Smith covered basic principles and provided beautiful pictorial examples. Plus, her enthusiastic demeanor has me ready to review my strategies. Thank You!!

    One of the top webinars I’ve attended

    Opened my eyes to a new way to research!

    Outstanding communicator

    outstanding! thank you!!

  5. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Practical and interesting. Excellent visuals and examples.

    Presenter very knowledgeable and her presentation style is great.

    Presenter was and excellent communicator. She provided a large amount of information in a way that I could keep up and understand.

    Presenter was so informative.

    Presenter was very clear and easy to understand in her communication. Also, I enjoyed the different examples of how she created her own brick walls.

    Presenter was very engaging, knowledgeable, and well prepared with helpful visual aids. Enjoyed it and learned a lot. Thank you!

    Presenter was was knowledgeable and very thorough.

    Pretty good. was a professional genealogy librarians, so much was familiar.

    Provided lots of ideas for extending research on brick walls. I need to seriously look at the FAN club!

    re-affirmed so many good & old ideas for research. #1 READ READ READ!! Don’t skip the small print!! Really enjoyed Robyn Smith’s presentation!!

    Really enjoyable and informative overview of methods! Robin was a great presenter and I really appreciated her sense of humor! Thank you Robin.

    really enjoyed it

    Really high lighted the benefits of thinking outside the box.

    Robin is delightful, interesting, and animated and I can’t even see her. So happy I attended this.

    Roby Smith was excellent

    Robyn concisely presented in an entertaining way, some excellent strategies in overcoming brick walls. Thanks.

    Robyn did a wonderful job. I enjoyed learning from her.

    Robyn gave a wonderful presentation! I feel very inspired. 🙂

    Robyn gave an excellent presention, with good information and clearly communicated.

    Robyn is a wonderful presenter. All lines of my research deals with ancestors from North Carolina which makes this webinar very helpful. I have experienced what I thought were Brick Walls and now I will rethink how I can conduct my research. Thanks for sponsoring this webinar.

    Robyn is an excellent presenter, detailed, thorough, informative, timely and personable. I gathered sooo much information in 60 minutes! I like that she presented the educational component of genealogy research. It helped me understand why it is important to begin adding courses on history and methodology that will grow my skills and stretch me in my search. I feel freed from my bamboo cage so to speak regarding my brick walls.

    Robyn is an excellent speaker/teacher. I could listen to her talk all day! I look forward to learning from other webinars by her in the future. Thank you for making this available to us!

    Robyn is very knowledgeable and her presentation flows. While providing information she is also very entertaining . I think she is wonderful.

    Robyn really knows how to put information across in an easy to understand way!

    Robyn reminded us that there are many resources that have to be found in person, the old fashioned way. Thanks for a very informative webinar!!

    Robyn shared a number of useful strategies to break down what we believe to be a brick wall. Very enjoyable presentation.

    Robyn Smith blew me away with her teaching style and her knowledge of methodology. I can’t wait to take more classes with her.

    Robyn Smith has the energy of ten normal women, and awesome organizational skills! I have heard her speak in person, purchased her book, read her blog, & taken two of her webinars. The level of detail she provides–about sources & evidence, record-keeping & analysis, conceptualizing the research process, and so much more–is unparalleled. I find her family or cluster approach far more fruitful than the tactics of other genealogists who advise us to focus on just one single question at a time.

    Robyn Smith is an excellent teacher! I would love to attend more of her webinars, and intend to start following her website. I now understand I created my own mythical block wall, which is really a problem insufficiently researched!

    Robyn Smith’s webinar is full of ways to breakdown brick walls. She is thorough, and the slides provide enough information to stay on track in many ways so we can breakdown those walls and keep moving further. Thank you.

    Robyn speaks well, her webinar was well put together, and sounded neither scripted nor disorganized

    Robyn was a fantastic presenter. Thank you so much!

    Robyn was a great presenter. I enjoyed it very much.

    Robyn was an excellent presentor.

    Robyn was excellent. Very imformative!

    Robyn was excellent. Very informative and clear, and easy to listen to, plus her sense of humor was a bonus. I laughed out loud when she showed that water damage had disfigured her ancestor’s entry, and she said, Why does that have to be MY family? I know I’ve said that before about mine. Would love to hear more from her.

    Robyn was so relaxed and, yet, clearly gave a lot of information that was pertinent and helpful – without sounding rushed.

    Robyn’s presentation covered a lot of useful material. Too bad that there wasn’t enough time to go in depth even more. Great topic!

  6. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Excellent talk.

    She has a lovely voice!

    She was an AMAZING communicator! And the information she gave! I could picture each method being a pick axe. It might hit a brick that you aren’t working on and the wall might stay sturdy, but by the time you’ve worked your way through her suggestions, the wall is going to look pock-marked. Eventually the wall will be weak enough to crumble. And her point is true, many times we say it’s a brick wall when we haven’t put in enough effort to solve the problem. Brick walls have to earn the name.

    She’s an excellent presenter.

    So enjoyed Robin’s program!

    So good! I rarely stay to leave feedback (shame on me!) but had to tonight. It was inspiring and informative and focused and wonderful! Thank you Robyn!!!!


    Speaker was fabulous! Lots of useful, practical information.

    Speaker was great! Informative, entertaining, easy to listen to. I am going to recommend her to my local county and state genealogy group as a possible presenter. Excellent!!!

    Super instructional webinar touched all the bases to overcoem that dreaded brick wall!

    Thank you

    Thank you for a wonderful webinar!

    Thanks for the info about Methodist records. I too have deep Methodist roots and many of them ministers. Also, most of my family is from McNairy County, TN so very familiar with Hardin Co as well. Thank you!

    Thanks, so helpful, can’t wait until I knock down a few walls using this method

    The family pictures were just so lovely! Sort of took me to an older time… Nice organization to the material and good examples. Looking forward to your next webinar! Thank you!

    The info was excellent, as was the speaker’s delivery. I only wish that she would have stayed on each slide page for a moment longer. Thank you!!

    The information was very helpful; I realize that I need to do further research because I don’t have real brickwalls.

    The information, places and what to seek was great. Had to leave early had an appointment this evening, since I am a member hope to get the syllabus.

    The presentation was very good…Ms. Smith was a great speaker!

    The presentation was very nice. Good pace, great slides and pleasant voice

    The presentation was very well organized and provided the information need to progress my research. Thank you!

    The presentation was well organized, and presented in such a clear format. Speaker is excellent and equally important, the information was so interesting. Well done!

    The presenter gave very useful ideas to continue my research.

    The presenter was very knowledgeable and a good communicator of the information. Lots of things to ponder.

    The presenter was very knowledgeable and answered many questions which has renewed my interest in genealogical research. I had hit a brick wall a few years ago and lost interested but now, I am eager to dig back in!!

    The speaker paced things perfectly. Informative and entertaining as well thanks to her interesting examples. I’m glad I signed up for this webinar.

    The webinar was informative about places we might not think to look. I thought that Ms. Smith was a good speaker and presenter. I hope she does more webinars.

    The webinar was very informative and Robyn was a great speaker! I am looking forward to checking out her website and her book. Thanks for a great lecture!

    There really wasn’t much new to me in this webinar, but I always enjoy listening to Robyn teach. Besides, even webinars without much new info are valuable reminders of what I know and might have forgotten to use.

    There was a lot of good information presented, things I hadn’t necessarily thought about.

    This was fantastic!

    This was my first time attending the Legacy webinars. Thank you

    This was very encouraging, to keep looking! I can’t wait to apply what Robyn suggested.

    This was very informative. I have used several of these same techniques but there were some I hadn’t thought of yet.

    This webinar was excellent. It provided me with much information to try to get to the bottom of some unanswered things in my research.

    This webinar was outstanding! Lots of information and delivered very clearly.

    This webinar was wonderful. Robyn is an excellent presenter. She is definitely an expert. I look forward to future webinars featuring her.

    Thought it was excellent!

  7. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Very clear and concise. Full of info. Excellent presenter.

    very easy to follow , thank you !

    Very easy to understand information. Felt like listening to a friend.

    Very Good

    Very good information !! Great speaker

    Very helpful. Some new ways to search.

    Very informative

    Very informative

    Very Informative – great speaker

    Very informative and easy to understand. Thank you Robyn!

    Very informative and engaging.

    Very informative and great job by the presenter!

    Very informative and useful! Thanks!

    Very informative, and the timing was excellent for an Australian participant!

    Very informative, made me look at it in a whole different way, but let me know I was thinking correctly on some things.

    Very informative.

    Very informative. Lots of great ideas.

    Very informative. Some new leads to try.

    Very informative. Time to re-examine my brick walls.

    Very informative; well organized and easy to follow with great advice. Thank you!

    Very interesting and informative

    Very interesting and informative. Learned many ways to break down my self proclaimed brick wall. Thank you.

    Very interesting and Robyn is such a good speaker

    Very interesting, and yes I found that even being adopted, I did create my wn brick wall in my research! Learned a lot tonight!

    Very interesting. Well presented and love the example.

    Very interesting. Good pointers. While I live in Ontario, Canada, my ancestors resided in some of the Maryland counties Robyn referenced

    very interesting. good tips

    Very interesting. Thanks for adding to my knowledge.

    Very knowledgeable presenter, who provided good examples/ideas in a clear and well-paced presentation.

    Very likeable presenter with good information.

    Very nicely done

    Very practical. Good reminders to use other sources than only online sources.

    Very useful for every level of genealogist. We can all improve.

    Very valuable, interesting!

    Very well organized and informative

    Very well organized presentations, lots of good info some new and reinforcement of some I knew. Excellent. Would highly recommend.

    Very well presented, terrific graphics, easy to follow, excellent information!. Would like to see more from Robyn.

    very well presented. Thorough. informative without being overwhelming.

    Very well presented. I will definitely go back and review my potential brick walls to see if I can find additional information.

    Very well put together. I was looking for ideas of new sources and got a new ideas.

    Very well put together. Lots of practical information clearly communicated and demonstrated. Great examples!

    Well organized and presented! Enjoyed it very much.

    Well- organized and very clear.

    Well organized information

    Well organized, well presented and very relevant to my research.

    Well paced and thoughtful content. Plan on watching again.

    Well researched! Robyn is so easy to listen to. I’ll be looking into more records on my so called brick walls. 🙂

    Well spoken, great examples, fun lecture. Great job!

    Wish could have raised my hand to get door prize. There was tech problem, maybe cause its 2021

    Wonderful and helpful!

    Wonderful presentation with great examples.

    Wonderful presentation with lots of helpful ideas.

    Wonderful presentation. It gave me quite a few good ideas i hadn’t considered.

    Wonderful presenter. She is a great communicator. Lots of good suggestions. Well done Robyn! Thank you.

    Wonderful speaker! Well organized, great graphics! Concise and easy to follow!

    Wonderful tips! Great examples. Fantastic teacher.

    wonderful! she is a wealth of information. She is very easy to follow. Thank You

    Wonderfully explained!

    WOW! I have attended a LOT of genealogy webinars since COVID began but this is the one of the best!! Although presented fast and furious, Robyn gave us wonderful information and was quite entertaining also. Thank you Robyn for sharing your knowledge!

    You gave some great ideas to ponder. Being an adoptee who has been following breadcrumbs for almost fifty years, you gave me some ideas on connecting the dots. Thank you


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