16 April 2007

Finding elusive women

Tracking down female ancestors can be much harder than finding records of their male counterparts.

Some factors may help in tracing female members of a family: In some ethnic communities (such as Iranian and Spanish), women keep their maiden names after marriage, and in other European Jewish communities at specific times in history, restrictive marriage laws meant that children were given the mother's maiden name. Sometimes researchers have the ketubot (Jewish wedding contracts) of family members.

However, in the U.S., where the tradition is for the wife to adopt the husband's name after marriage, it can be much more difficult.

Genealogist/author Sharon DeBartolo Carmack's book, "A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Female Ancestors" is a great help. She advocates searching traditional as well as non-traditional sources in the great hunt.

"Family heirlooms and artifacts such as quilts, needlework or paintings may yield valuable clues about the female relative who created them. Careful examination of letters, diaries and journals may reveal hidden, 'written between the lines' details about either the female ancestors who wrote them or those mentioned within them."

To read more, click here.

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