Unusual and Underused Records for Researching Female Ancestors: Episode 135

By Family Tree Editors

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Join Lisa and her guests as she discusses unusual and underused records for researching your female ancestors. Plus: Dutch genealogy websites, genetic communities, and a few great genealogy accounts to follow on social media.

Ep. 135: March 2020

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In this episode:

Tree Talk (1:35)

Lisa shares Family Tree Podcast listener Holly Simpson Corley’s story about an unexpected discovery made in her own hometown. Thanks for sharing, Holly!


Want to share your story on the podcast? Connect with us on Facebook or email with “Tree Talk” in the subject line.

Tree Talk document from Holly Simpson Corely.
Letter telling the story of Holly’s ancestor, Miss Elisabeth Simpson.

Feature Interview: Unusual Records for Finding Female Ancestors (7:10)

Courtney Henderson, Digital Editor at Family Tree Magazine, has some unusual places for us to search for our female ancestors from her Premium article, “14 Unusual Records for Finding Female Ancestors.”

Record Collections Mentioned

Eugenics Record Office Records


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives: A list of collections and which institutions hold them.

Notices Repudiating Wives’ Debts

“For more than 300 years,” notes Hilary Sargent in an article for the Boston Globe, “newspapers ran advertisements from men publicly announcing their wives had left them, and that they would no longer ‘be responsible for her debts.’” As early as 1656, newspapers printed these notices, and the practice continued well into the 1980s.  Look for these notices in the classified ads section of newspapers, sometimes under the heading “Special Notices.”

Female Clubs, Organizations and Sisterhoods

Beginning in 2003, the YWCA donated over one million photographs, publication pages, and rolls of microfilm to the Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History at Smith College in Northhampton, Mass. Thanks to a grant from the Council on Library Information and Resources these records have been digitized and are available for researchers. For more information, you can visit the library’s website.

DNA Deconstructed: Genetic Communities (16:37)

If you have tested with Ancestry DNA then you have probably heard about their Genetic Communities. If you’ve been wondering how you can use these migration groups  and communities, Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, is here to answer that question.

For more, check out “DNA Q&A: AncestryDNA Genetic Communities” by Diahan Southard in the December 2019 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Best Genealogy Websites: Researching Dutch Ancestors (22:52)

If you have Dutch ancestors there’s good news:  millions of free genealogical records are coming online. John Boeren, author of the article Going Dutch which appears in the March and April 2020 issue of Family Tree Magazine explains where to start.

Websites Mentioned in This Interview

John Boeren headshot
John Boeren

Editor’s Desk: The Best Social Media Accounts for Genealogy (32:12)

Family Tree Magazine‘s New Media Editor, Rachel Fountain, shares some her favorite genealogical and historical accounts to follow on social media. Her article, “Fan Favorites” can be found in the March/April 2020 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Accounts Mentioned in this Interview

Follow Family Tree Magazine on Social

Follow Lisa Louise Cooke

Upcoming Courses

Looking to learn something new in April? Check out these upcoming Family Tree University courses.

*CORRECTION: The April Family Tree University course mentioned is on Scottish ancestry only. Our Scots-Irish course ran in February 2020.

Featured April 2020 Courses

Your Host: Lisa Louise Cooke

Listen to Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems Podcast in your favorite podcasting app or with the Genealogy Gems Podcast app in your app store, and visit her website for great research ideas, podcast episodes and videos.

Have fun climbing your family tree!

Lisa Louise Cooke, host of the Family Tree Magazine podcast.