Saturday, February 02, 2008

Researching Women

I just returned home from speaking to the Palm Springs Genealogy Society. We had a great time discussing researching female ancestors. I gave my talk entitled: Remember the Ladies, Researching Women Ancestors."

After a presentation I always think, "oh I forgot to tell them this" or "I forgot to mention this resource". This presentation was no different.

One society member asked me a question about an ancestor whose mother's last name is in one document as Mrs. Smith and another document as Mrs. Brown. He was questioning whether this was an error. I talked to him about the possibility that the mother may have married multiple times thus resulting in the change of names. Also-we sometimes assume that people remarried only because of death. After all life was simpler way back when. Nothing could be further from the truth. Divorce did happen and in the 19th Century there were certain states that were considered divorce mills because they freely granted divorces. There was more than one reason for people to come west! So if you have a woman whose has been married multiple times, make sure that you prove the first husband is dead before you make that assumption. Divorces created records and those can be valuable for researching your female ancestor.

Another source that I wanted to mention is a source that is a little different. Many, if not most states have conducted Quilt Docuemntation Projects. This is where people brought in quilts and volunteers collected information about the quilt and its maker, including photos and biographical information. This information was then turned into a book. These state quilt documentation books include pages upon pages of women's pictures and bios. What a great resource for genealogists. Yes, it's a long shot but you never know. For a list of these books go to, Remember, you don't have to buy the book, you can request it through your local library's interlibrary loan program.

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