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Family Search

What to do with records of Female Ancestors

DearREADERS,

Based on a discussion in The Organized Genealogist Facebook Group, we tackle the question of what to do with the records of our female ancestors. It all boils down to whether she keeps her maiden name or not, as a cultural influence where she lived, and what system works for each researcher.

We used the example of Pat’s father, who married four times. We also delved into the situation where we had much for a woman’s married life, then discovered her maiden name. Research on that maiden name takes on a new focus, as we attempt to discover her parents and grandparents. And then there’s the problem of what to do when we find other people in the same place and time who have the same surname/maiden name, but we have not yet proved if they are related to our family.
We agreed it’s best to make a digital copy of everything found to identify an ancestress. We also agreed that although we may put trees up on websites for the hints that can crop up, it is best to have our complete and most accurate database on our personal computers, backed up to the cloud in case of disaster like a hard drive failure, or calamities from Mother Nature.

Below my signature, find the unedited comments from attendees.

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Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     🙂
DearMYRTLE,
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19:01:37 From  Myra Lindgren : Good evening everyone……It was an easily made decision not to watch the debate…
19:01:48 From  Flo Merritt : Hello all
19:02:21 From  Pat Jackson  to  All panelists : hi from Kentucky. have the debate on mute.
19:05:15 From  Launa Droescher : I use last names. ie. merritt-tillitson_1938 for marriage
19:05:40 From  Betty-Lu Burton : Does blank spaces count in that 256 character count
19:09:10 From  Betty-Lu Burton : We are thinking English centric research. Both my Norwegian and Italian lines the woman keep her maiden name and even her death record is listed under the maiden name
19:09:47 From  Myra Lindgren : Same here with the Swedish and Danish.
19:09:54 From  Betty-Lu Burton : I only have the mic on my computer
19:10:21 From  David Hopper  to  All panelists : English speakers favor farther for physical distances and further for figurative distances.
19:11:22 From  Marcia White  to  All panelists : That is also true of French-Canadians until about 50-100 yrs. ago.  A woman kept her maiden name for her entire life.
19:11:25 From  Sheri Snodgrass : From Grammerly:  People use both further and farther to mean “more distant.” However, American English speakers favor farther for physical distances and further for figurative distances.
19:14:44 From  carencay bowen  to  All panelists : Korean / Japanese – women keep their maiden name all their life. Its the children that take on the fathers lastname
19:15:59 From  Pat Jackson : yes
19:16:08 From  Betty-Lu Burton : Remember to change from panelist to panelist and attendees
19:16:29 From  Myra Lindgren : Same here Betty – am at the desktop.
19:17:18 From  Sheri Snodgrass : The system that is best for each of us is the one that we will use consistently
19:17:22 From  Susan Bleimehl  to  All panelists : Sorry, looks like my headset is not going to carry the mic, it just lets me hear you.
19:18:34 From  Betty-Lu Burton : One thing that will determine the folder system is going to be what happens to the woman’s name when they get married
19:18:49 From  Pat Jackson : good point, Sheri
19:21:34 From  Betty-Lu Burton : I have been going back and forth on whether I want to do a separate file for may Italian family while I am working on the records in Aosta, Italy
19:21:40 From  Sheri Snodgrass : I have separate trees for me and hubby (no children) and have recently realized we have a cross family connection – my uncle by marriage is his 2nd cousin.
19:23:30 From  Linda Morgan Clark  to  All panelists : I like what Myrt did with her dad’s wives. I need to do something similar for my brother’s 9 wives (you got that right – 9!)
19:29:09 From  Sheri Snodgrass : What messes me up is when they hyphenate only the kids surnames – ugh! 
19:29:35 From  Pat Jackson : I agree with Russ
19:29:39 From  Kathy Richardson : A woman disappears into her husband’s surname. I use my maiden name as my middle name
19:29:40 From  Linda Morgan Clark  to  All panelists : Sometimes women take back their birth surname when they get a divorce, or their spouse dies
19:30:39 From  Pat Jackson : I do also, Kathy, and my maiden name is Richardson, lol.
19:31:41 From  Marcia White  to  All panelists : I agree with Russ.  I was taught, 30 yrs ago to always use maiden names for females and have followed that advise successfully.  For my husband and myself, most of our immigrant ancestors to back to 17th century MA, but it has caused no confusion
19:31:49 From  Betty-Lu Burton : I choose a main name and then do a alternate name when I find them with a different spelling of the names and then I attach the record to the alternate name also
19:32:23 From  Kathy Richardson : Pat, my maiden name is Cox. They were Quakers in PA, NC, KY and IN as they migrated
19:32:41 From  Marcia White  to  All panelists : I rely on my genealogy program for connections
19:33:14 From  Sheri Snodgrass : Just realized hubby’s cousin’s wife’s given name included her mother’s maiden name as her middle name – don’t see that often for women.
19:34:44 From  Betty-Lu Burton : My document files are by surname, but my source citations in my software are by location
19:34:53 From  Pat Jackson : I have lots of PA to OH Quakers. only Cox name I can think of is on a different line. My Quakers were Palmers, mostly.
19:39:24 From  Betty-Lu Burton : In the early days when I would be finding several families in the same microfilm or book, I then kept those records by place
19:40:24 From  Sheri Snodgrass : Had a discussion over the weekend about this how to order – and recommended if you have a physical order that makes sense to you then order your computer files the same way.
19:43:31 From  Betty-Lu Burton : I have done that many times to. It would always take me a few minutes to figure out how to use the microfilm printer. 
19:45:04 From  Betty-Lu Burton : How things have changed from the days when I copied pages of IGI micro fiche to work on my family
19:45:37 From  Sheri Snodgrass : Save originals of important or sentimental items
19:46:38 From  Flo Merritt : If possible, every thing should be saved digitally. But…Originals or only known copies should be kept forever. 
19:46:42 From  Susan Bleimehl  to  All panelists : I tend to only keep the digital copies. Although I still keep the photocopied Civil War pension file that I photocopied at NARA.
19:46:45 From  carencay bowen  to  All panelists : keep Birth x Marriage x Death and Censuses x Military plus photos (under 20 , 30s x Older)
19:49:02 From  Myra Lindgren : Digitalizing everything. Originals are in the safe.
19:50:16 From  Sheri Snodgrass : Discussion with folks in flood or fire zones makes me want to have everything digitally just in case.
19:50:39 From  Launa Droescher : they should be scanned also
19:51:31 From  Pat Jackson : I don’t plan to get rid of my dad’s binders. would like to scan them but they’re huge and have tiny tabs down the side for generations.
19:52:37 From  Launa Droescher : while I research copy to ever note also  past image into evernote
19:53:18 From  Susan Bleimehl  to  All panelists : I use it to keep notes of things to retrieve from archives, but most of my notes go into FTM.
19:54:18 From  Kathleen Daetsch : I have used evernote It’s great to use while you are doing research on that family  
19:55:09 From  Myra Lindgren : Roots Magic only.
19:55:56 From  Marcia White  to  All panelists : In Roots Magic I have one db for my family and one for my husband’s.  In My Heritage it is just one.
19:55:58 From  Susan Bleimehl  to  All panelists : Only FTM.
19:56:03 From  Kathleen Daetsch : yes I have done that also.
19:56:06 From  Pam Wade : Roots Magic only
19:56:14 From  Flo Merritt : FTM
19:56:15 From  Sheri Snodgrass : I have a main tree database and several working for other lines/families in FMT
19:56:18 From  Sheri Snodgrass : FTM
19:56:32 From  Pat Jackson : I work in Ancestry and back up to FTM
19:56:57 From  Linda Morgan Clark  to  All panelists : I have 2. One is a total mess, the other is my “clean” one. I drag and drop between them. 
19:57:02 From  Pat Jackson : yes
19:57:11 From  Sheri Snodgrass : Like Pat – I have separate trees on Ancestry
19:57:12 From  Susan Bleimehl  to  All panelists : Tree at Ancestry is my test one.
19:57:30 From  Myra Lindgren : Ancestry, Family Search, and multiple other genealogy sites.
19:57:46 From  Pat Jackson : I have a DNA spec tree and a “real” tree
19:57:51 From  carencay bowen  to  All panelists : Ancestry = 4 trees / MyHeritage = 2 trees / Family Search = 1 tree / Software
19:58:04 From  Pam Wade : Ancestry, Family Search, My Heritage and Wiki Tree
19:58:10 From  Janet Iles : one database for my family — Brother’s Keeper; but I download my Ancestry tree into RootsMagic (not as many names); 
19:58:23 From  Susan Bleimehl  to  All panelists : That’s an excellent idea.
19:58:31 From  Launa Droescher : main one is in Legacy, with bits and pieces  on MyHeritage,  Familysearch, Ancestry
19:59:41 From  Kathleen Daetsch : I will set up a second tree to try to figure out how a group of people are related to each other. 
20:00:02 From  Pat Jackson : I have unproved DNA matches in my spec tree and hope to someday connect. by having them in there with my people it’s easier to see common surnames.
20:03:02 From  Kathleen Daetsch : My gg grandmother was married to her brother in  laws cousins, I had a separate tree for that group so I could figure out how they were all related.
20:03:58 From  Sheri Snodgrass : Great discussion!   
20:04:28 From  Sheri Snodgrass : Did a class on Ancestry downloading and had someone say – didn’t realize he needed to download it.
20:04:43 From  Marcia White  to  All panelists : So interesting and much food for thought!
20:05:06 From  Flo Merritt : Thank you! 
20:05:10 From  Myra Lindgren : Thank you! I enjoyed this much more than watching the debate.
20:05:31 From  Kathleen Daetsch : good ideas but I still have a mess of files.
20:06:52 From  Kathleen Daetsch : thank you good meeting