Discover the 10 Key Places to Find Maiden Names

in Middle-name

In doing genealogy research it seems it is most difficult to find the female names of your ancestors.  But, if you do it and do it well, it can open up a whole new branch of your family tree.  History shows that when family records were kept it was the male side and rarely was a maiden name given.  It was as if that woman's life started with marriage. This is usually because the woman marries and with that you can find new surnames and new connections. 

Let's look at the 10 key places that you can go to find a female relatives maiden name.

Marriage records and licenses

The first and best place to start your genealogy research for a relative's maiden name is on marriage licenses and records.  The official marriage license is not the only way to get this information.  You can also look in newspapers for marriage announcements, bible pages will sometimes list marriages as well as long ago they had recordings of marriage bonds and marriage bans.

To get any information you will first have to know who she was married to, where they were married and when the marriage approximately took place.  For instance if you were looking for someone called Kate, and you knew her married name was Jackson, then you could search backwards to find out her maiden name.

Middle Names

Believe it or not, sometimes middle names can be most valuable in your genealogy research.  If for instance your great grandfather had a middle name that could also be a surname, something like Benjamin Bradford Higgins, then that middle name of Bradford could be a big clue to a female line.  History shows that the middle name might be one given in honor of some famous local person or could be involved in the female line of history.

Cemetery Records

When a person is buried in a cemetery there is usually a recording of this event.  Check funeral homes and caretaker records.  Many women are buried with their maiden name and listed as wife off whomever and this will show on the records.  Sometimes the middle initial of the wife will be her maiden name.  Also if there is a family area check the records to see if there is a burial with no headstone marking but is recorded.

Cemetery Placement

Back in the day and even somewhat today, families had burial plots and were all buried in the same general area, wanting to go to the great beyond together.  So if you can go to the cemetery take a good look at the stones in and around the one you know to be family.

Census Records

You might find some good information in checking the census of your female ancestor for every year that they were alive.  You never know where she had been living, perhaps with relatives or it might be wise to look into families of people that lived near your family.  Sometimes the information blends and you may pick up some information that way.

Land Records

Land was and is a valuable commodity and is often passed down through families.  Make sure to look at land deeds for any family names you can find there.  Sometimes it might just say owned by John Higgins and wife, or daughter... Somewhere on that document might contain clues to the maiden name you are searching for.  A little tip: if you see a receipt showing that your grandfather purchased land or property for one dollar or some other small amount it is most likely that it is from a relative.

Church Records

Birth, Christening and baptizing records are kept at the church and they will include both parent names and the mother's maiden name.  Some churches and families keep the old bibles of relatives, not perhaps for the information but because no one can usually throw a bible away.  In it your relative might have included important names and dates.  Look through it carefully if you are afforded this little treasure.

Newspaper Records

There is a lot of information to be garnished from the newspaper.  Death Notices and other articles in the paper around that time may list who came in from where to attend the funeral.  It might even if you are lucky list the family members that attended.  Probate has to go through the newspaper seeking other relatives, look there too.  It is a tedious job but with some patience and persistence it could be of great consequence in your genealogy research.

Military Records

If you know of anyone that was in the military, do not leave this out of your research.  Records will be kept for military admission, discharge, death, pension and most of the person's service record will be on file.  Family member's names and signatures might also be in these records, so look well.

Family Names

This might be stretching things a little bit, but sometimes people will give their children the maiden name of their relative.  For instance my son's middle name is his dads, mom's maiden name.  So if you see a name that could be a surname as a middle name for someone then it would not hurt to look into it.

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Corinne Bridgewater has 1 articles online

Corinne Bridgewater delights in sharing her knowledge of how to learn your family history, Get your free 10 part miniseries on "Learn your family history-How to find your family tree. She invites you to learn more information on genealogy research by visiting her site

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Discover the 10 Key Places to Find Maiden Names

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This article was published on 2010/04/02