Maiden Voyage
7/26/2010
Are you lost at sea in your search for ancestral maiden names? We'll show you 10 places to lay anchor and find your female forebears.
Every family historian has at least one: a female ancestor whose maiden name—the key to unlocking previous generations—you just can’t find.
 
Especially prior to the 20th century, finding foremothers is complicated by the fact that women changed their names at marriage, didn’t often own property and generally left fewer historical records than men. The documents you do turn up might list Great-great-grandma simply as Mrs. So-and-so. Without at least a father’s name, your “maiden voyage” may hit rough waters.
 

Never fear: We’ve laid out a treasure map of 10 places to look for keys to your female ancestor’s past. Recovering a lady’s maiden name requires a little exploration, so let’s begin with the most easily accessible records first.