5 Tips for Finding Female Ancestors


woman pictureHow many of us begin our genealogical searches by just typing names into online databases or Google?  While this “shot in the dark” approach can occasionally yield some positive hits, it isn’t the most effective method to ensure long-term research success, particularly when it comes to fleshing out those elusive females in your family tree.

When you start researching a female ancestor, the best approach is to first develop a research strategy or research plan that outlines how you will proceed with your search for this woman, what records you will need and what you are hoping to discover.

Create a research plan that includes the “5Ws” approach, asking the questions: Who, What, When, Where and Why?  This is also a good strategy when you run into any problem ancestors.

Who – are you researching?  Be equipped with all the names they were known by, and all the possible spellings, e.g. Elizabeth could also have been entered as Beth, Betty, Eliza, Liz, Lizzie, Liza, Lisa. Margaret could be Margie, Maggie, Peg, Peggy, etc. And that doesn’t begin to address the surnames often mangled in records. Who did she know or associate with?

What – is your question? What do you want to learn? This will give you s


ome insight into what record type(s) you need to locate.  What did your female ancestor do?

When – what timeframe are you interested in? Like everywhere, record types started being kept at specific times. If your research starts before certain records were kept you’ll need to find alternate record types to use. How records were created and kept changed at different times, and even the names of the locations changed.

Where – did she live? Did your ancestor stay in the same town where she originally settled? Did she migrate or move often?  In what country was she born?  From where did she emigrate?

Why – do you need this information? What are you hoping to find: If it’s a marriage registration you need, perhaps you’re also looking for names of the parents of the bride and groom. Just being aware of why you need this record type can often open up other research possibilities. It also helps to keep us focused—something most genealogists struggle with.

Root out the women in your family tree.


We’re all aware of the unique challenges faced by those trying to trace female ancestors. But success is a very real and tangible possibility—just ask Finding Your Female Ancestors course instructor Lisa A. Alzo:

“I’ve been researching my roots for over 22 years.  I’ve gathered more information than I ever imagined possible when I started out; I also have much more to learn and many burning questions.  I’ve had many ancestors (including women) I once deemed “cold cases” that I eventually tracked down.  I found my elusive female ancestors, and so can you!”

Lisa will be on hand throughout the entire four-week course to answer any and all of your burning questions. In this class, you will learn:

  • Developing a successful research strategy for rooting out women in your family tree
  • Tips for teasing out maiden names in a vast variety of record groups
  • Rooting out female ancestors in sources such as oral histories, family traditions, diaries, letters and more
  • Brick wall strategies for solving special research problems

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to uncover the ladies in your family line!

Sign up today

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