Best Records for Finding Female Ancestors
3/14/2013
Looking for the women in your family tree? Start your search for female ancestors in these genealogy records.
Are you searching for female ancestors? I hope so! This is my own great-grandmother with my grandma in the 1920s:



Although we're giving lots of attention to Irish roots this week, we haven't forgotten that March is also Women's History Month.

This rundown of the best genealogy records for finding the women in your family tree comes from this month's Ultimate Collection: Tracing Female Ancestors.
  • Cemetery records: Check the woman’s tombstone and note surrounding ones, which may belong to her family.
  • Church records: Witnesses on a woman’s or her children’s religious records may be her relatives.
  • Court records: Women typically didn’t leave wills (in many times and places, married women legally couldn't), though a widowed or unmarried woman may have. Your female ancestor or her relatives may be named in her father’s or husband’s will. Also check divorce records, which may have been filed even if a divorce wasn’t granted.
  • Home sources: Examine letters, needlework and quilts, recipe books, address books, baby books, wedding albums, Bibles and calenders for names of—and details about—female ancestors. 
  • Land records: Women rarely owned land but may be named in deeds. A married woman may have signed a release of dower when her husband sold land. Those selling land to a couple, especially for a small sum, may be the woman’s relatives. Also consider that the neighbors may be her family.
  • Marriage records: These might include a license, certificate, return, church register, banns, bond or newspaper announcement.
  • Military pensions: A woman could file for a military pension when her husband or unmarried son died of war-related injuries. Widows had to send marriage records to prove the marital relationship. 
  • Naturalizations: Until 1922, wives automatically became naturalized when their husbands did. Unmarried women rarely sought naturalization. Post-1922, look for separate records for married women.
  • Newspapers: Pay special attention to society columns, announcements of births, engagements or anniversaries, and obituaries.
  • Vital records: A woman’s death record may name her father (later records are more detailed). Birth records often give the mother’s maiden name.
The Ultimate Tracing Female Ancestors Collection gives you a 63 percent discount on our best tools for learning more about the women in your family tree. It includes:
  • Finding Female Ancestors Family Tree University Independent Study Course from Family Tree University
  • Secrets to Tracing Female Ancestors video class
  • Research Strategies: Female Ancestors 7-page digital download
  • Female Ancestors Cheat Sheet
  • The Hidden Half of Family: A Sourcebook for Women's Genealogy by Christina K. Schaefer (Genealogical Publishing Co.)
 Start searching for your grandmothers, great-great-grandmothers, aunts and other female relatives. Click here to learn more about this Ultimate Collection!