Will Genealogy Research Change if Men Take their Wives' Surnames?

Genealogists who are researching their paternal line can easily follow the trail from their father’s surname to his male relatives. Today, some men change their surname to their wife’s last name when they get married. Will genealogy research change as a result of men changing their surnames?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. It won’t change the techniques genealogists already use to track down and identify their paternal grandfather, paternal uncles, and other male relatives with the same surname. Old vital records will always stay the same. Men, for centuries, kept the surname their father gave them – no matter if that man got married or stayed single.

It also won’t change the techniques that genealogists use to find information about their female ancestors. Some of those strategies include “reverse engineering”. Start with an obituary and see if it includes the female ancestor’s “maiden name”. Search for probate records from property the woman owned before she got married.

The thing that will change, as a result of more men choosing to take their wife’s surname, is how future genealogists will do research on their male ancestors. The men who changed their last name after marriage will no longer be as easy to connect to their fathers and mothers. They won’t have the same surname as their male siblings anymore.

Genealogists will have to figure out which techniques to use in order to do research on their male ancestors. Did he keep his original surname? If so, then the genealogist can continue to use the usual technique of connecting relatives to their family tree.

Did he take his wife’s surname? Then the genealogist will need to use research techniques that one would use to find their great-great grandmother. It’s possible that men who assume their wife’s surname will be incorporated into her family’s tree with no connection to their father’s tree.

Related Articles on FamilyTree.com:

* Finding Maiden Names

* Those Maiden Names of Our Female Ancestors

* Tricks to Locating Maiden Names

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