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on April 20, 2012
This is a comprehensive guide to tackling difficult problems in genealogy research, and gives very specific examples and suggestions for tactics to use when confronted with the inevitable "brick walls". I was impressed by the level of detail and the intelligent commentary. However, be aware that the focus of this book is entirely on early American genealogy, specifically mid-19th century and earlier. If your family immigrated to the US in the 1880s or later, the specific issues will not be of much help.

Even so, there are some valuable insights for everyone:
1) Census records have notoriously bad spelling and transposed letters, sometimes in the census record itself, other times introduced in the indexing. Because census searches do not allow for "soundex" or phonetic search, researchers should search by many alternate spellings.

2) Cluster genealogy is an important concept to keep in mind. That is, don't only focus on your direct family members, but consider the wider family unit, friends and neighbors.

There is an excellent table "Common errors found in genealogical evidence" that rates the likely accuracy of various genealogy sources. The least reliable, rated "Poor", are oral family traditions, folklore and stories, and past news features (when the even was long before). There is a brief DNA chapter at the end of the book, which appears to have been included as an afterthought.
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on September 1, 2011
I checked this book out at the library because it was one of the newest additions and I have read almost everything else. I was pleasantly surprised about checking this book out. I read it from cover to cover and learned a lot of new techniques for difficult research on my ancestors. I will recommend this book to my genealogy friends, for sure. This book is highly recommended reading for all genealogists, no matter if they are beginners or experts. You will learn something in this book. If you have a little problem or a stubborn problem trying to find someone in your family tree, check out this book and see if it doesn't help you come up with a solution or at least give you some ideas where to start your search. I guarantee you that you will find some place that you didn't look. And it has great stories, some that are funny. So check it out just to read it and laugh a little. I truly enjoyed this book!!
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on June 8, 2011
I've been using genealogy to search for ancestors for about a dozen years, and this book provided me with different ways to approach the chase (particularly valuable for those of us who are searching in periods when records are scarce). I've already followed the suggestion to "broaden areas of interest to entire families instead of direct line ancestors." I think that other suggestions to look at land records and tax rolls will also prove valuable. I would recommend this book to seasoned genealogists who want to take their search to a higher level.
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on April 17, 2012
The Family Tree Problem Solver: Tried-and-True Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors - don't buy if you already have The Family Tree Problem Solver: Proven Methods for Scaling the Inevitable Brick Wall as they are essentially the same books, just with different covers. Enjoyed the Problem Solver book immensely so was thrilled to see another book by the same author. Didn't now it was going to be the same book with a different title! Very dissappointed with this purchase for that reason. It is a good book, so rated highly.
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on July 19, 2013
There is no question this is a very well-written book. Marsha Hoffman Rising presents her ideas with practical examples that anyone who is entrenched in genealogy can implement immediately. The two main concepts which I took from her include: Dealing with the problems in the years before 1850 and using information from collateral lines, neighbors, and community to help uncover information about your direct line and provide clues to migration patterns.

The only disappointment I have does not involve the main ideas she put forward, as those were well-done. As she says on the cover, these are "Tried-and-True Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors." Her ideas are not new. I was hoping there would be new, innovative, out-side-the-box ideas to use. For those of us who have been engaged with trying to break through those walls, we have heard these ideas before in one form or another.

I don't want to discourage anyone from purchasing this book, because it is a worthwhile read. However, if you are an advanced genealogist, looking for novel ideas to break through a brick wall, you may be disappointed.
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on April 18, 2013
Kudos to author Marsha Hoffman Rising!

This work is an invaluable research tool for anyone investigating family histories, and an historically accurate and provocative look into the facts and realities of the women daily lives, legal and religious rights, and contributions to our personal lives, as well as American history.

As we research the distaff side of our family trees we are often left with tantalizing clues, that lead us down the garden path to brick-walls. Hoffman provides historically accurate, fact based, well researched and tested strategies for scaling those walls, and locating the women in our past. Her methods work!

Hoffman demystifies research techniques,and provides state - by - state historical and legal information that I have never found compiled elsewhere.

Her friendly style makes the book easy to read, and her recommendations easy to follow. Most importantly, she provides an accurate, no nonsense, historically accurate view of womens history.

I wish I had found her work earlier in my own genealogy searches! I would highly recommend this author, and her works for anyone seriously looking for their fore-mothers.

This fine book is a "must have," for every genealogist, whether amateur or pro!
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on November 5, 2012
I have been doing some genealogy for a few months now and have run into some difficult relatives in my tree. So I started to look for ways to open up information about them. I was hoping this book would bring some answers. While it is good for someone who is starting out it doesn't live up to "Problem Solver" that graces it cover. It does have some examples that can give some ideas. But mostly it is a rehash of every other book on the subject. So if you need general information this would be good. If you want to solve a problem with your tree. Not as good.
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on July 3, 2015
For me, this book deserves 10 Stars and I can't recommend it enough! Whether you are new to family research, like me, or have been involved in tracing your tree for years, you will find some something of value to push through any blocks you may have encountered. I've only been researching my family for about 3 months now, so it's all new information to me and after exhausting every avenue I could think of, Ms. Rising's book helped me to find completely new leads I wouldn't have thought to explore.

There is a branch of my family that has told a very romantic family story for generations, involving my 3x great grandparents' lives in a volatile area in Southwest Missouri during the Civil War. I love family lore, but I wanted to find the documentation that would either support the stories, or clarify the actual events as they truly occurred because the truth means more to me than stories that can and DO get embellished over the years. I had many challenges to overcome (courthouse burned TWICE, leaving practically zero trace of them), and this book has helped me enormously in looking at the bigger picture of not just names and dates, but the people who lived lives as we do today, as members of a family and a community, which can open floodgates of information to explore where previously there was only a brick wall. As a result of following Ms. Rising's tactics I have found documented facts that I wouldn't have found otherwise and the picture that's forming is far more intriguing than the family lore!

Whether your challenge is, like mine, no county records, or family from the difficult years prior to the 1850 Federal Census, or a family with a dozen men named John, this book can help you navigate the unknowns. There are no magic answers, of course, and I have several ancestors I doubt I'll ever get to the bottom of, but this book has helped me tremendously in knowing I have uncovered every crumb trail my ancestor may have left behind. And in the case of my burned courthouse family, I have found a much deeper story than I think I would've found had those county records been readily available because being new to family research, I probably wouldn't have thought to dig even deeper or wider into their community to find the nuggets I have found, including the documentation to support them! Highly recommended!
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on November 27, 2012
I bought this book because it was highly recommended in a webinar presentation I heard. The speaker said it was her "go to" book for all sorts of challenges. After reading the book, I can see why she was so impressed. It is not just a collection of bits and pieces of information, but is organized cohesively so that the whole process makes sense . I have already applied some of the ideas in this book, but more importantly, I've reorganized my limited skills in researching, so that I know what I need to look for next.
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on April 17, 2014
I have been doing genealogy research for close to 20 years now, and this is one of the best books I've seen. It is focused entirely on American genealogy; however, I think the principles could be applied to genealogy anywhere if you have a resource telling you about the sources available for that location.

The book lays out case studies on the use of a number of different types of records. Records beyond the census and vital records. It also covers the concept of cluster genealogy. Is your specific brick wall going to be in the book? Likely not. But the point is that the author is providing tools and examples which you can then adapt to scale your own personal brick walls. While there are a couple of reviews here from beginning genealogists who say the book was not helpful - I suggest that perhaps they have not been researching long enough to fully understand the difference in technique that the author proposes from what most people do in their research. I know I wouldn't have been able to aprpeciate this book early on like I can now.

It should also be noted that the book focuses on research problems at about 1850 or before. Research after that time period is comparatively easier in most cases (not all) because of the introduction of more resources--vital records, every-name censuses (both federal and state) and so on. However, you can still use the principles presented in the book to solve problems. Research the whole family and the whole community. Look for records aside from census and vitals. Don't rely only on indexed or searchable records. If you want to knock down the brick wall, you're going to have to put in some time going line by line or page by page through unindexed records at some point. This book gives some guidance as to what those records may contain and what may be worth that slower search.
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