|The Domesday Book from Andrews, William: “Historic Byways and Highways of Old England” (1900)|
I recently referred to a list of potential genealogically valuable types of historical sources that have traditionally been presented in the form of a "Genealogy Source Checklist." Here are some links to such a list:
- Genealogy Toolbox - Genealogy Research Sources Checklist
- Genealogy Source Checklist - Haywood County Historical Society
- Genealogy Source Checklist - Puget Sound Genealogical Society
- Resource Checklist
These types of checklists could be continued for quite some time as there are dozens of such lists. You should note, as these lists are compiled, that they reflect the availability of the types of records listed at the time of the compilation. Some types of records are extremely time dependent. For example, United States Census records date to 1790, when the first census was taken. There are other census related documents but before that date, it is impossible to find that particular type of record. Another older type of record is the "Domesday Book." Here is a quote from website called, "The Domesday Book Online."
The Domesday Book was commissioned in December 1085 by William the Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066. The first draft was completed in August 1086 and contained records for 13,418 settlements in the English counties south of the rivers Ribble and Tees (the border with Scotland at the time).In addition, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states, as quoted from Wikipedia:
While spending the Christmas time of 1085 in Gloucester, William had deep speech with his counsellors and sent men all over England to each shire to find out what or how much each landholder had in land and livestock and what it was worth.
It was written in Medieval Latin and was highly abbreviated and included some vernacular native terms without Latin equivalents. The survey's main purpose was to determine what taxes had been owed during the reign of King Edward the Confessor.No other similar record was attempted in England until 1873. The Domesday Book is considered the oldest public record in England. My point is that any particular category of records has a time limit in any particular location. Just as it would be futile to look for European genealogical records in the Americas before the time of the discovery and exploration by European nations, it is equally futile to try to reconstruct any particular pedigree before the time when the earliest records are available.
This is my definition of an "End-of-Line," that is, when the records are no longer available. The other term, "Brick Wall" is more slippery. It is usually made in the context of a frustration at a failure to find an ancestor in readily available records. Occasionally the term is used by someone who has put forth a monumental effort to find a particular individual that has really come to an end-of-line situation and has not yet come to a reconciliation with that reality. This is often the case when the so-called brick wall is in the 1600s or 1500s.
However there are situations that do occur where the records for a particular individual are missing or not available. My classic example is a foundling, that is a baby abandoned at a church or elsewhere. There are simply no records as to the identity of the parents and identifying the parents may be possible in some rare instances, but that this situation is effectively an end-of-line as far as that particular individual is concerned.
What is frustrating to me, is the common use of the term "Brick Wall" when the person making the statement is entirely unaware of the huge number of historical documents available at the time the supposed brick wall ancestor was alive. But that is another issue for another time.