On Election Day, ninety years ago today (7 November 1916), Republican Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Women have come a long way since then! Want to double your family history files? Well then, you need to fully research your female ancestors. I know, you are thinking “that is easier said than done”, what with women changing their names when they get married among other problems. So, here are some places to look for those females ancestors who are hiding.
Here are some of the more common sources to research: wills and probate records, husband or father’s military pension records, land records, marriage records, diaries or journals, letters, newspapers: obituaries/ marriages and births, ship passenger arrival lists, naturalization records, census, Bible records, husband’s draft registration cards, funeral records, divorce records, church records such as birth, baptismal, marriage or burial.
Here are some uncommon or unusual sources to look for: voter/election records, yearbooks, alumni publications, dower (widow’s right to property) records, church records such as confirmation or first communion, social/ women’s club records, DNA testing, school records, teaching records if a teacher, women hospital workers especially during war, records for women in prison.
You could have a handwriting analysis done on your ancestor. While this doesn’t prove genealogical facts, it is fun and may give you insight into your ancestor’s personality. Also, look for photos that show the clothes and fashions of the time period your ancestor lived. See if your ancestor is wearing the current fashions in her photos. These are just a couple of ideas to add “meat to the bones” of your research.
Woman are often more difficult to trace, so get creative and start searching. It will be worth it to double your research files!