Records are based mainly on Life Events – “Hatch / Match / Dispatch”. Birth
Certificates, Newspaper Announcements, Church Records, Civil / Church Marriage
Records, SS Applications, Death Certificates/Indexes, Obituaries, Cemetery Records,
Grave sites, to name a few, are all sources of hints for maiden names.
Determining when records became available in the locality you are researching, is
timesaving, in that you are not searching for records that are not available.
familysearch.org has a Wiki Search Function, where you can search many facets of
what was available and when; e.g. no births were recorded by New York State before
1847, so there is no point searching for a “Birth Record” in 1830.
• Census Records: Check each census for family members who may have moved in.
This can lead to hints on Maiden names, as well as married names.
• Obituaries: Might contain maiden or married names
• Cemeteries: Look for Indexes, which might be on-line, Find-A-Grave and other
sites, sometimes the maiden name is listed. Check out linkpendium.com , which is a
Wealth of Genealogical Information.
•Clues in the census:
✤ Check on descendants: Where are they living? Modern times – cold calls work.
✤ Middle initial: Search in locality of birth (based on est. birth year) to see if
there is a girl in the earlier census records whose last name starts with A. Can
be a clue.
✤ Where were the couple born – where might they have met?
✤ Mother’s maiden name may have been given to a son!
• Wills: Trace the name of the Executor/Executrix, heirs, witnesses, all could be
• Death Certificate: Maiden name could be listed. Check the informant, relative?
• On-Line Information: Found a family on Ancestry that appeared to be correct – they
lived in rural New York, had been born there and census records showed they had
lived their entire life there. There were records showing they got married in
Richmond County, near New York City. This appeared to be the answer, but a death
certificate for a child, showed the mother’s maiden name differently. So even with
records, information needs to be checked & re-checked.
• Google: Use the Google Search Function which is very intuitive **(not case sensitive
– don’t worry about capitalization) Ray found an article on a doll collection a
person, of this name, had left to Cornell University. His Ancestor had been a
Teacher at Cornell and other evidence proved this was the correct person & gave
her maiden name.
• In another case, Ray had a marriage license, but the husband & wife were not
together in a following census. The husband was listed alone with a 4 month old
baby. It turns out the wife was listed at her mother’s home 2 doors down, under her
maiden name. The enumerator may have known the family and asking who was
there, listed her maiden name in lieu of married. The couple were found together
for the rest of their lives.
• fultonhistory.com is a “Free” searchable website of newspapers, mainly from
upstate New York, but more and more newspapers from other states & Canada are
being added. Searching for “A” Viola Brown, Ray used a Boolean Search: “Viola
Brown” and (File Name contains (Binghamton)) which returned her obituary. No
maiden name, but it led to a son in California where his Death Index showed his
mother’s maiden name.
• Other sources: Prayer cards found in Bibles/Books; Witnesses to Baptisms, Deed
Transactions, Marriages, etc. All can be sources of finding maiden names and/or
Note: When checking lists, depressing the Control (Command on Mac) & F Keys at the same
time, will bring up a box where you can type a search word. Pressing enter will
highlight all instances of that word and you can use the arrows by the Find Box to
navigate through them. Here is an article on keyboard shortcuts: https://
** Sandy’s Notes