Hints to Find a Female's Maiden Name

It can be one of the hardest tasks in doing your family or one of the easiest. It all depends on how much details were added to the following documents.

When searching, make sure you completely check for a maiden name using:

A marriage certificate or license

A death certificate

A family Bible record

Federal Census records

Birth / baptismal records for all the female’s children

Newspaper Obituaries

Next review and search for the given names of a female ancestor’s children and grandchildren. My own mother’s middle given name was ‘Musselman’ which was her mother’s side, grandmother’s maiden name. Using a family surname was common practice to honor ancestors.

An informant’s full name, especially for death certificates, is very important to check. Most informants are relatives. Make note of those surnames, they could prove valuable in later research.

As you go over census records, look at the names of the neighbors. Families tended to live nearby or next door. Look for similar patterns of the place of birth, birth dates and given names. Many times it was the wife’s parents or grandparents who lived nearby.

When doing a search on FamilySearch.org or on Ancestry.com try searching for a female ancestor with just using their given names, no surname (married or maiden). Include approximate birth year and place they may have lived. This works best for those with more unusual given names. Try a search with a nickname like ‘Beth’ for Elizabeth.

If you can locate a Will from the female’s husband or a female’s own Will, a maiden name might be listed. Check also the cemetery if known of where the female was buried. The cemetery office just might have that maiden name.

Lastly, many ladies after they married replaced their middle name with the maiden name, so check that also.

Keep trying.

Photos: Marriage license; 1920s bride and bridesmaids; and 1880s ladies.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Those Maiden Names

Ancestor’s Profile

Every Name

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