Recognizing and organizing certain themes, topics, and subjects can be the secret weapon needed to break down many of those brick walls. What brings people together as a group at one point in time, or in one place in time, or in one why in time, may help the genealogist to put an end to one of those pesky red brick things standing in the way.
Themes can be something laid down by cultures or social groups which bond them to one another. Perhaps religion, political party, or social group may remove them from one area and go to another.
For my own family, the Baptist movement in early colonial Virginia helped me follow my family from one area in Virginia, to the wilderness of Kentucky. They became known as the "Traveling Church" becoming a topic of interest in early Kentucky history.
Perhaps it might be a topic like the "Theory of Divine Right" of kings. Who did the family fight for or against. This topic became an important subject during the English Civil War period (1638-1649). Understanding and organizing this concept helped me recognize, and group together my own JONES family during this period of history.
Likewise, a subject can be anything that might effect thought or consciousness bringing into to action an individual or group of individuals. What subjects make the group united in action. Placing Mary, Queen of Scots, on the English throne was one such subject that united a small group of men, including my own family.
Keeping a running record of these themes, topics, and subjects as one goes about their own tree climbing may help solve many questions which seem to get in the way. For me this was done in a series of notebooks which became the record of discoveries on these items. Piece by piece, these became the thread to weave a rope over many of those brick walls.
For those interest, I have started a blog on my collection of notebooks. These list the themes, topics, or subjects that I have collected during the past 52 years of genealogy. The list can be found at http://tjgresearchnotebooks.blogspot.com. You can search for topics/subjects using the search space given.