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Tricks on Finding Maiden Names

Article by cilla1946

When I first started doing genealogy research I found it sometimes nearly impossible to locate maiden names of long dead ancestors.Mainly because I wasn't going about it in the right way.

Often times I would copy from another family tree only to discover later that I had copied someone who had the wrong information.By doing this, mistakes are only perpetuated and the basic lineage is lost to the researcher.

After many mistakes and wrong information I learned that the only way to assure the correct information is to check,check again and the check again.

I learned to "think outside the box" so to speak.If you can't find a maiden name there are ways to research that quite often will give you what you are looking for.

I often start with
https://www.familysearch.org/
when doing this type of research.If you have enough basic information and a marriage was recorded,you can quite often find the maiden name of the bride along with her parents names.

If that doesn't help you can do a round about search by looking for marriage records or baptism records of a child of the couple at the same site.They will usually have the parents names listed including the mother's maiden name.Sometimes death certificates can be found there as well.

I have also had some success by Googling the surname+family associations.You would be surprised at how many family associations are out there!

I have also Googled just the husband's name + state + genealogy and found a wealth of information.When you use Google you just have to be very careful to double check any information that you find.

Once you find what you believe to be the correct maiden name of the wife in question you can go to the census records.Check to see if that person was born in the correct time period and would be the right age for the marriage.

If you are checking for someone who was born in the late 1700's or early 1800's you can't necessarily go by what state a person was born in.During that period of time people were pioneers and migrated far and wide.

Another thing I learned is to look at the original census record and not just a transcription.Often times a women with children lost her husband and remarried soon after.In this case a child would have a different last name from the mother which wouldn't usually be on the transcription.On the original census,step children are usually listed as such.

These are a few of the research techniques I have used successfully to locate maiden names.

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by cilla1946 Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2011-03-22 20:48:46

cilla1946 , from Hillsboro,Ohio, has been a Family Tree Circles member since Dec 2010. is researching the following names: BROWN, BRYANT, WARE and 3 other(s).

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Comments

by withjc on 2011-03-24 07:49:36

Thank you! I always feel grateful for the help of others and this is a extremely helpful article. I'm very glad that you put it in.

by cilla1946 on 2011-03-24 14:04:20

You are very welcome! I may not be a professional but I love a good challenge and genealogy is surely that!
I really believe that tracing ones family is very much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle! You have to fit pieces together very carefully and never try to force a fit!
The sense of accomplishment when you find that missing link makes it all worthwhile!
You have to be willing to put in as much time as needed and know that patience will pay off in the long run.

by Chloe123 on 2011-03-28 02:51:22
user deactivated
by pfredland on 2011-03-28 11:15:27

Thank you. This helped me.

by jamesjohnson on 2011-03-28 18:58:12

Thanx for that Cilla. I have family members who must have ( in my opinion anyway ) been already born when an ancestor married, because their ages don't compute.

by janilye on 2011-04-03 04:52:44

This is a great post, thanks Cilla

by dj_webb18 on 2011-09-22 19:24:24

I just wanted to add a word of caution to this useful article. Whilst www.familysearch.org is a very useful site when all else has failed, it's worth remembering that much of what's available there was submitted by members of the church who traced their own trees and then shared it with the church, therefore what the article says about copying someone else's research and later finding out that it was wrong can unfortunately sometimes also apply to familysearch. I would suggest that if the record being viewed on familysearch is a transcript of an original baptism, marriage or burial or something similar than it should be reliable enough (allowing for a relatively low rate of transcription errors as with any trascripts), but that if it's a submitted pedigree or even individually submitted 'records' from church members then treat it with due caution as you would any other individual's research, as there's nothing to say that members of the mormon church 30 or more years ago were any more accurate with their genealogy than some researchers on the web are today.

by cilla1946 on 2011-09-23 09:41:55

Thank you for the addition to my original post dj web18. You are correct in your advice about www.familysearch records.That is the reason I suggested that the researcher only use that information as a starting point.
It has been my experience that actual records such as marriage,death and the original census are needed to verify the information found at that site.The most important thing I posted is that you must check,recheck and then check again!
Even the original census can be a problem depending on the ability of the census taker.Many times the names are not spelled corretly or in some cases not correct at all.You have to keep in mind that when a census was taken a person answering the questions could give whatever information suited them.Many people changed the spelling of their names after immigrating from another country or the census taker wrote a name by guessing the correct spelling.
In order to be reasonably sure you have a correct fit for your ancestor you must have more than just one record that gives the same information.
Even with death records you must keep in mind that some of the information was probably given by a family member who may or may not have it correct.
Like I mentioned in my original post,building your family tree is somewhat similar to putting a jigsaw puzzle together.You must be patient and never try to force a fit!It can be daunting and experating but in the end it pays off!

by fox on 2011-09-23 17:08:04

Hi Cilla, Thats very good advice, maybe you could help with finding out
how to trace the father of someone when the one on the certicate is not
the father? Or there is no-one on it at all.Now there's a hairy one.Very
hard I would say.

by dj_webb18 on 2011-09-23 20:51:08

Genealogy is definitely a jigsaw puzzle, and as with jigsaws if it looks like a piece doesn't quite fit it's usually just because it doesn't fit!

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