With Mother’s Day right around the corner, it might be a good time to focus on the female side of your tree. But let’s face it, women can be harder to track because they didn’t leave as many records behind. I have a few things I try with every female in my tree when I get stuck on maiden names and finding parents:
- Search for her married name in other people’s obituaries. You might find her in a sibling’s obituary that has that maiden name you are looking for. Even if you don’t find the name you are looking for, make sure you research the names in the obituary. You never know what you might find.
- Look at other surnames in the household. When reviewing census records, look for unexpected surnames in the household. And if you find the family in a city directory, search for other names at the same address to see if you find in-laws or people you didn’t expect.
- Look at neighbors, especially right after the wedding. Often after a couple is first married, they don’t move far from home. Check the families nearby and see if they might be likely candidates for the family of the female you are researching. Then look to see if she is in the household in the previous census.
- Look through local and family histories. Family and local histories are full of names and relationships. Search for local histories in the county in our card catalog or on the place pages for that state and county.
- Check death certificates for all of a woman’s children to see if her maiden name is listed. The death certificates of her children may hold a clue to the mother’s maiden name. Also, look at the obituaries of the children. Some are written with a lot of detail.
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