Look some more; do you spend more time on your male branches than your female branches?
Women are harder to research. Maiden names can be tricky to find. And when you are bridging the 1880-1900 gap and the pre 1850 gap it gets worse. And those states that didn’t record marriages before 1900! What is a genealogist to do?
Men left more records. Women couldn’t vote before the 1920s (more or less) in the US. They couldn’t own property. They were often listed as Mrs. John Smith. They didn’t fight our wars (usually). They didn’t show up in the newspapers doing this or that, except maybe the society column.
I suspect the women in my tree were pretty interesting. The living ones that I know or knew sure are. Did they suddenly just become feisty, opinionated and strong-willed? Why do I doubt that?
A while back, Amy Johnson Crow, a regular contributor on our blog, introduced the 52 Ancestors Challenge. I can’t refuse a good challenge, so I decided to do it, but I’m working on the women in my tree. The men have not been neglected, but the women have been. I have summarized on my blog page 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks!
My great grandmother Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie, lived from 1877-1964. And she was a tough cookie, loved and maybe a little feared by her family. And the photo of Granny and her dog has always been a favorite of mine.
My great great grandmother Sarah Sudie Hamrick Turner appears to have been her family’s muse. Her husband started and ran a variety of businesses. Her children were very successful and creative. My great aunt painted a picture of FDR that is supposed to be hanging in the White House, my grandfather was a radio announcer, and on and on. And doesn’t that tell us a lot about her? She must have allowed and encouraged creativity and innovation. Her accomplishments have escaped me so far, but I felt like I knew more about her just by examining the people who surrounded her.
So my challenge to you, as Women’s History Month winds down – go look at the women in your tree and start writing their stories. Not just as the wife of someone. But who were they? What did they live through and how did it effect their lives?
And tell us about them! We want to know.
About Anne Gillespie Mitchell
Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at Ancestry.com. She is an active blogger on Ancestry.com and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.