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Locating a Woman's Maiden Name

One of the biggest challenges in genealogy can be located a woman’s maiden name. This can lead to a number of metaphorical brick walls in a person’s family tree. However, there are tricks that can sometimes help genealogists locate a maiden name.

Vital Records: Maiden names are sometimes listed on various vital records, including marriage certificates, death certificates, and birth certificates. You may also find a woman’s maiden name listed on birth or death records for her children.

Church Records: Baptism records often included the full name of the baby, as well as her parent’s full (and maiden) names. If you know the name of the woman’s child(ren), you may be able to locate a baptism record that would list her maiden name.

Newspapers: A woman’s maiden name can sometimes be located in an old newspaper. Search the library’s archives for a wedding announcement or obituary. You will first need to know when and where the woman was married or died.

Military Documents: Military pension records often list a spouse’s maiden name. In order to access these documents you will, at the very least, know the name of the veteran, the military branch he served in (Army, Marines, Nay, etc.), when he entered the service, and which war he fought in. You may also have to know when he was released from the service, his military ID number, social security number, and date of birth.

Census Records: Look for clues about a woman’s maiden name in census records. You may find the woman and her husband residing with her parents early in their marriage, or her elderly parents may be residing with her. Also look at the families living nearby, as they may be clues to the woman’s maiden name (families often resided close to one another).

Land records; Land records sometimes listed the full maiden names of women. These records may also list the names of the woman’s siblings and spouse.

Naming Patterns: Look at the middle names of the woman’s children. It was common for a child’s middle name to be the maiden name of his mother. This does not always hold true, of course, since surname-sounding middle names could be the last name of another friend or family member.

Tombstones: Tombstones sometimes lists the maiden name of a deceased woman. It was also common to list the maiden name or initial as the middle name on tombstones.