The Online Genealogist

John Brugliera

The Online Genealogist asks “How do you find her maiden name?”

Maiden Name 01First off, many thanks to MAD’s Al Jaffee for the above extreme, but fitting image.  Found elsewhere online, uncredited.  I’d recognize his drawing style anywhere.

One of the most challenging aspects of genealogical research is discovering the maiden name of a female ancestor.  How many times have we seen a compiled family history, with entries such as this?…

Maiden Name 02

Yes, the dreaded blank line after the young lady’s given name.  Even esteemed genealogical societies’ published family histories aren’t immune.  In fact, it’s more surprising if ALL maiden names were known.  Why is that?  Several reasons, but near the top would surely be the lack of female records in general.  The overwhelming majority of early records feature men, men, men, men…

It was glaringly apparent in those Lebanon, NH town records I was looking at last week.  There may be an occasional “widow Reynolds” mentioned in a new road survey or “Sally McNeil” in the town poor house, but 99% of the names in there are William, Daniel, Thomas, Ziba or some other equally manly moniker.

One of the best ways I’ve found maiden names are through the Federal Census records – mainly 1850 and on when all members of a household are listed as opposed to the head only (MAN) that was there in 1840 and before.  The most recent censuses are even better.  “How so?”, you ask?  “How about an example?”, I answer.  Here’s one from the 1930 Federal Census…

Maiden Name 03

Any guesses for what the wife of Peter Gioia, Pauline’s maiden name is?  Score 1000 points if you yell “Messina!  Messina!  Messina!!!”  I’ve found SO many maiden names in this manner.  It could be a maternal nephew or bonus multiple in-laws, as in the above Boston snippage.  The maiden name is right there!

And if you’re looking at 1850, 1860 or 1870 , where the relationship to the head of household wasn’t included, no need to fret!  If I see an older Mrs. Wilson living with a Richardson family, I’ll most definitely be looking at Wilsons in the area as possible/probable parents for Mrs. Richardson, which of course, would provide her maiden name.

Other great maiden name hints?  Middle names!  Oh, and OBITS!!  But those are whole other posts…

 

If you’re looking for a hard-to-find maiden name, you’ll find that I may find out what that is.   I’m the Online Genealogist!

JohnBrugliera@theonlinegenealogist.com

TOG WEB

 

 

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