Deeper Roots Genealogy

~ Discovering Your Family's Past To Shape Your Future ~

women and chain saws

My family had an accidental solution to the age-old chain saw problem.  Four names.

Women give birth to the next generation.  We love them.  Researchers often ARE them.  But darn that European tradition of women changing their names when they marry!  So you find Elizabeth and Andrew Jacobson.  You know what to look for to find Andrew’s parents – the Jacobson family.  What about finding Elizabeth’s family?  An entire branch of the family gets lopped off rather unceremoniously.

family tree looking like it's been pruned with a chain saw?

family tree looking like it’s been pruned with a chain saw?

My grandmother has 4 initials – R. V. D. T.  She dropped her middle name when she married, but her maiden name was Van Duyne – V.D.  My mother simply added on another name when she married – 4 initials seemed normal to her because her mother had 4 initials.  When I married at nearly 30 years old, I had a career under my maiden name but wanted to take my husband’s name to show unity in our marriage, my love for him, and very practically, avoid confusion when we had children.  So 4 initials became a 3-generation tradition.  (Incidentally, having my full maiden name + married name on my driver’s license has been very handy when I have to prove I’m still me!)

Since the vast majority of our ancestors did not do this, here are some tips for finding the illusive maiden names.

  • find marriage or death records; they often carry the woman’s maiden name, and the death informant could be one of the woman’s siblings
  • pay attention to where they were when they married and where they lived – is there another family that lives nearby before and after the marriage? Perhaps one that lost a daughter of marrying age when your lady got hitched?
  • follow the census records into the future – parents usually lived with one of their children in their later years, so you may find a mother or father-in-law living with the daughter’s family when they are older
  • do any of the witnesses to legal documents related to the family recur?  If so, they might be in-laws.

These are just a few ideas to help you track down the illusive maiden names.  What approaches have helped you find maiden names?

Thank you, Kathy!  This post is inspired by her request for help on the Deeper Roots facebook page.


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This entry was posted on 28 May 13 by in Documents and tagged , , .



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