At our Genealogy Networking Group meeting on September 4, we discussed how to research our female ancestors. Here are some tips, gathered from the book A Genealogist’s Guide to Researching Your Female Ancestors by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack.*
Find records created BY your female ancestor:
- home sources and artifacts
- oral history gathered by you or someone else
Use the website Hathitrust to find diaries in academic libraries. If your female ancestor didn’t keep a diary, look for one by a woman in a similar geographical area or by someone who shared an experience similar to your ancestor’s.
Find records created ABOUT your female ancestor:
- marriage certificate
- birth certificate and/or baptismal record of children
- death certificate
- husband’s death certificate
- marriage or death certificate of children
- wills of parents
Look for indirect clues:
- repetition of names in family or unusual names of sons might point to the female ancestor’s father’s name
- surnames used as middle names could be the elusive maiden name
- look for older members of the household in the census who could be related to the female ancestor, thus pointing to the previous generation
Finally, think of your female ancestor in all her different roles and search for documents that might include her. Your female ancestor may have been a:
- wife or widow
- daughter or granddaughter
- mother or grandmother
- friend or neighbor
How else would you look for a female ancestor? Leave your comments below.
*Check out the book A Genealogist’s Guide to Researching Your Female Ancestors by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack from Cook Memorial Public Library District.