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14 Wharfside Street — Charleston, SC 29401
Jun 03, 2017
Soon after beginning your African American genealogy research, you will encounter a predictable roadblock – in order to take your female ancestors’ lines back in generations, you must learn their maiden names. This can be a sticky research problem, but here are some tips to get you started on finding maiden names.
This one seems obvious, right? Many marriage records list the maiden name of the bride. Some even contain the names of the bride’s parents. When searching marriage records, start by searching for the groom’s name, then cross your fingers. You may learn a lot about the family of the bride.
Included with the marriage record for Tillman Smalls and Edna McCall of Newbern, NC is a form wherein Edna’s parents Fellie and Beatrice McCall give consent for their daughter to marry:
If you are not able to find a marriage record for a female ancestor, try searching local newspapers for a wedding announcement. Remember that a single event in your ancestor’s life may produce multiple records.
Obituaries for your female ancestor or other members of her family may include your ancestor’s maiden name. Obituaries for your ancestor’s children may also reveal the maiden name you are seeking. In the example below, we learn that Elizabeth Murphy was the daughter of Jobe and Vicey Washington.
Is there a member of your family who keeps the funeral programs for your family? Consult that family member immediately! Funeral programs can reveal a wealth of information about your family members. Often the simple step of gathering your family’s funeral programs can forge major inroads in your family research.
Death records sometimes contain the names of parents. In the example below, Albertha Gilliard’s death certificate states that her parents were John Scott and Hager Boykin. From this record, we not only learn Albertha Gilliard’s maiden name, but that of her mother as well.
In the example below, we see Susan Jenkins, widowed, in the household of her daughter Janie Martin in the 1940 US Census. Further research may corroborate the suggestion that Janie’s maiden name was Jenkins.
If you are a member of Ancesty.com, you can search the database “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007.” In the following example, we see Annie Green’s parents listed as Carolina Fields and Chitta Brown.
Annie Fields Green
in the U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007
These are just a few tips for finding maiden names. Do you have a tip to share as well? Please share in the comments section below!
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