As any genealogist knows, finding a female ancestor can be a bear of a challenge. However, once known, it can open an entirely new field of research. Although there are several ways to locate female ancestors, one of my favorites is through death records.
I discovered my great-great-grandmother’s maiden name, thanks to the information on my great-grandfather’s death certificate. That one clue gave me an avenue of research that has since gained me several new names in my database. And, thanks to the death certificate of another great-grandfather, I discovered not only his mother’s maiden name, but also her place of birth.
Where else can you hope to find your female ancestor?
- Marriage records
- Baptism records of her children
- Naming patterns (sometimes a child’s middle name was the mother’s maiden name)
- Land records
- Military pension records
If you have a tip on how you found a female ancestor, write and let me know.
• Cyndi’s List: Female Ancestors
• Discovering Your Female Ancestor’s Private Life
• Discovering Your Female Ancestors
• Finding the Elusive Women
• Locating Women in the Census
Nancy Hendrickson is a contributing editor for Family Tree Magazine. She also is a family historian, freelance writer and the author of two astronomy books. Her Web site is at www.ancestornews.com. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reader response to this column:
I have found two maiden names of female ancestors in the Genealogical Data of Women in the Western Reserve before 1840. It is on two rolls of film with a published book index to the data. One of the women was a fourth-great-grandmother and the other a third-great-grandmother. It is the only place that I have found confirmation of their surnames. The women are listed by married name and then maiden name. It tells when they came to Ohio and where they came from. It also gives their last known residence.
Anyone fortunate enough to have an ancestor in the early Western Reserve can find a wealth of information. I know films are available through Family History Centers, the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, and of course, the Western Reserve Historical Society Library.