Find Your Female Ancestors During Women's History Month

Finding Your Female Ancestors
March is Women’s History Month and it’s a perfect time to find your female ancestors or add more information to those already on your tree. It can be a tricky journey since their maiden name was rarely used once they married and well into the 1960’s, most women were referred to by their husband’s name as in Mrs. John Smith.  But do not despair – there are many ways to find their maiden name and be able to add another generation to your family tree.
Here are a few ideas for tracking down a maiden name. But be sure to Google finding your female ancestors for multiple sites and articles to give you more tips. A good place to start is
1. Marriage records will provide a woman’s full name. Look at both civil and church documents. If no records were kept in the location and time frame you are working with, look at local newspapers for marriage banns, announcements, and social events.
2.  Look at her children’s full name. Often a family surname was used as a son or daughter’s middle name.
3. Obituaries may list several family members. A number of surnames may appear due to married daughters or sisters but they can all be tracked to discover a woman’s family of origin. Remember when searching newspaper databases, you may need to search Mrs. John Smith rather than Elizabeth Smith.
4.  Census records may provide a maiden name if her siblings or parents are living in the same household. Oftentimes, a married woman provided a home for her younger sibling(s) or older parent(s).
5.  Wills and probate documents may provide other surnames and/or define the relationships to heirs.
6. Check the historical society and library for the locations you are researching. They may have diaries, letters, and memoirs detailing pioneer families. Local family genealogies may also be archived.