For Mother's Day: "3 Ways to Unravel the Mysteries of Women in Your Family Tree" (Excerpts)

+11 votes

1. Mine Male Records

Unraveling the mysteries of women relatives, says genealogist Michael John Neill of, doesn’t begin with researching female ancestors. “The first step,” he tells FamilySearch, “is to fully document the male ancestor and to look for hidden clues that will lead to information about the women in his life.” (more at link below)

2. Let History Be Your Guide

To shine a light on the stories of female ancestors, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist recommends creating a timeline of historical events that took place during their lives. These events can shed invaluable perspective and identify cause-and-effect situations. For instance, you might find that the Great Depression or World War II propelled your mother or grandmother into the work force. (more at link below)

3. Hunt for Headstones

We can learn so much from gravestones. These markers often vividly evoke the spirit of departed family members. Tom Comstock of BillionGraves says an ancestor’s final resting place can also be an excellent source of detail about women relatives. Emblems on headstones can reveal religious beliefs, professions, and memberships. Epitaphs may reveal a wide range of details about an ancestor’s life.

Full article can be found here:

in The Tree House by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (2.5m points)

3 Answers

+4 votes
Thanks Dorthy, very interesting. I use #2 a lot on older profiles. It is always interesting to find out what the local history was when a person moved and then add that to the profile. It's not always just numbers. The story behind them is what I enjoy.
by Richard Devlin G2G6 Pilot (316k points)
+4 votes

Thank you for the interesting and timely post about researching female ancestors.  I tend not to agree with #1.  There are plenty of ways to discover more about a female ancestor.  In researching my own line for a blog post, I discovered a quite remarkable ancestor, Jane Walford, my 8th great-grandmother.   Cow Hampshire: New Hampshire Matrilineality and Mothers

by Janice Webster G2G2 (2.2k points)
+3 votes
I would reword number 1. You're looking at records of the FAMILY, they're just listed under the guys' names because we live in a patrilineal androcentric society.

When I write biographies I often write the husband and wife simultaneously. I write each up to marriage on their respective profiles then I write the family story - relocations, children, and so on - on the WOMAN'S profile. I include any "color commentary" type facts that affect the entire family. Then I copy and paste the after marriage bits on to the man's profile. Sprinkle in a few items specific to each person, deal with death info and whatever the survivor got up to up til their death.

I have found small town newspapers to be an invaluable source for adding substance to the lives of women in my tree, at least from the late 1800s through the 1900s. There's record of their social lives in many small town papers, including club memberships.

Church records are another good place to find records of women in their own name (married or maiden).
by Dave Ebaugh G2G6 Mach 1 (18.9k points)

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