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5 Ways To Find Your Ancestor’s Maiden Name

By on 2022-06-02 06:30:25, 0 Comments


If you’re completely stuck trying to find the maiden name of one, or several, of your women forefathers, you’re not alone. It has long been a tradition that women take up the last name of their husbands upon marriage. Only recently has the trend of keeping their maiden name and hyphenating it with their partners’ last name picked up steam. Because women often leave their maiden names behind when they, they can be exceptionally tough to discover.

If you are fortunate, you might be able to find your ancestor’s maiden name among the common sources – on a marriage certification or death document, through the census, or it might be detailed on the birth or baptismal document of a kid. However, this is usually not the case. A lot of times, informants on death certificates do not know, or even bother to list, the maiden name of a female or married names were utilized instead of maiden names. Or these records aren’t available, specifically if you’re researching for information on women before 1850.

There might still be nope for you though. Here are 7 ways you can try when trying to look up a woman’s maiden name.

1. Study the first and middle names of her children, grandchildren, as well as great-grandchildren.

Many families pay homage to their loved ones by naming their kids after them. Many people don’t know that this practice is not only limited to first names. Though not as common in sharing first names, some families do incorporate their maiden names into their children’s names.

If you find a name that might be considered a surname, that would be a good place to start Refocus your search using this newfound information and it might bring up new names that you might not have looked into earlier.


2. Check out the last names of informants.

An informant is someone who supplied details about an individual when they were unable to do so, normally after their death. If you can get a hold of your female ancestor’s death records, and it doesn’t reveal the maiden name as it generally should, look at the surname of the informant. He or she is frequently related to the deceased. Usually, it is a child or spouse, but sometimes it can also be a sibling. If the person is a male sibling or an unmarried sister, you might have just found the maiden name you are looking for.

Do keep in mind that there is also the possibility that the informant might be completely unrelated. Some records indicate the relationship between the deceased and the informant but if it is not indicated, and you are unsure that it is the maiden name you are looking for, it is still a good starting point for your search.

3. Check the census records from the neighborhood.

Census records don’t take note of maiden names but they can be the source of a lot of valuable clues. A great way to start with the census is to look at the people listed directly before and after your ancestor in the census — and at least on the same page as the pages before and after. The federal census collects data per locale so the names on those pages were your ancestor’s immediate neighbors, and they could be family. If you see a matching surname on one or more households, it can indicate that this was an area of relations and that there may be more relatives nearby.

There are some other clues you may want to look for while scanning the census records. Like if you see a family listing where the head and/or spouse may be around the right age to be the parents of your ancestor? Do you see names listed with them that you have seen mentioned elsewhere (for example, there is a sure ‘Mary’ when a ‘Mary’ is also the informant in your ancestor’s death record)? These are a few hints that can provide a link to your ancestor’s maiden name.

4. Look where you wouldn’t usually.

If you’ve already checked all the typical sources (marriage documents, death certificates, and the like) and still have no information on your ancestor’s maiden name you might want to move on to the more unusual sources. A lot of them can be excellent places to locate mentions of maiden names.

Try and check if you can secure a copy of one, or all of these:

  • The birth records of all children of a female ancestor. If you have a hard time getting information going up and down your family tree, maybe it’s time to go horizontal. Check for records if your ancestor had brothers, sisters, or even cousins. Maybe one of those records will contain the maiden name you are looking for;
  • An obituary for your ancestor or her spouse or kids;
  • In a testament;
  • In an internment record;
  • In a military pension document; and
  • any other special religious, local, cultural, federal, or work documents.

Thorough research will often make you branch out to other sources and documents. Make sure to check out all the connections that appear throughout your investigation. The name you are looking for might be in a record that you would never consider looking into.

One other thing that can help you, with the use of current technology, is to run your ancestor’s name through a people finder service like Kiwi Searches.

Kiwi Searches contains millions of data taken from public records and other relevant sources. Think of it as a personal database of people where you can retrieve information about a person – addresses, phone numbers, and even relatives. This can narrow your search for that elusive maiden name and save you a lot of time and money.


Why do they ask for their mother’s maiden name?

It is the name of her bloodline that her descendants can use to trace their matriarchal heritage.

Is it OK to keep your last name after marriage?

Whether a woman keeps her name or uses her partner’s after marriage is a matter of personal preference, and today there are no legal issues with doing either.

Can I still use my passport with my maiden name?

Yes, you can keep using your passport with the previous name on it. Although there is no obligation, the officials recommend updating the travel document, so it reflects your current name.

Is Kiwi Searches good?

Kiwi Searches has a consumer rating of 4.06 stars from 17 reviews indicating that most customers are generally satisfied with their purchases.

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