Ideas for Finding a Woman's Maiden Name

If you're having difficulty finding a maiden name in genealogical records, here are 9 possible sources to look for

It can be difficult and confusing to find your ancestor's maiden name because it was common for a woman to go by her married name once she was married. Here are some places to look:

1. Marriage records

The first place to look is the marriage license. This should list the groom's surname and the bride's maiden name. If the maiden name is not listed, you can look at the witness's name (could be a family member) or search for her children's marriage licenses to see if it is listed there. One word of caution: if the women is a widow or remarried the name won't be her maiden name so cross-check with other sources.

2. Birth records

You can look for the mother's birth record, or you could search for her children's birth records. This may give you the maiden name. Try cross checking with the census records to find children's birth years.

3. Death records and obituaries

If you can't find birth records, try looking for her death record. It may list her parent's names which may lead to your answer about her maiden name. An obituary may also list her maiden name and/or names of her parents. Death records and obituaries of her children may also list their mother's maiden name.

4. Wedding announcement

Check the newspapers. There could be the announcement giving the names of the bride and groom. It will be helpful to have an approximate date of marriage so you know to look a few weeks before.

5. Census records

It was common for people to live with their children as they grew older so look at census records to see if a new person is living with a family. This could give you a name to further research.

6. Military pension records

Sometimes a wife's maiden name can be recorded in the pension files.

7. Land records

Look at deeds and transfer of land documents. It could provide her name or children's name. Also check the witnesses to these transactions since they could be family members.

8. Probate and will records

If you have the names of parents, search for their will to see if the female maiden name was listed.

9. Look at children or grandchildren's names

Families sometimes honored their loved ones by naming children after them, so look at first and middle names of posterity to look for clues.

Need help finding more records? Try our genealogical records directory which has more than 1.3 million sources to help you more easily locate the available records.

Related Topics on This Site