Anyone who has done even a tiny bit of research in the distant past, knows how difficult it can be to learn about female ancestors. There is a frequent tendency for women to be identified as Mrs. James Curtis in public documents. This makes it very hard to find women’s first names and often impossible to find birth surnames (maiden).
I have been blessed, in that I know most of the first names and birth surnames of my female ancestors. If you are only researching male ancestors you are missing 1/2 of the puzzle.
Today I’m going to shine a light on Mary Martin Hayes Williams, one of my direct female ancestors. She was born February 1884 in Kentucky and died November 1964 at the age of 80. She married Hubert Hayes and the couple had 5 children. Four girls and 1 boy. According to one of her grandson’s she was a kind and loving woman who cared deeply for her family.
I learned Mary’s full name from one of her grandson’s. From there I was able to find her death certificate which gave the full names of her parents.
When Mary was born women didn’t have the right to vote. According to Historyorb.com on, “Mar 8th – Susan B. Anthony addresses the U.S. House Judiciary Committee arguing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. Anthony’s argument came 16 years after legislators had first introduced a federal women’s suffrage amendment.” And the Civil War had only been over for 19 years. I can only imagine what life was like for a woman of African descent living in Kentucky. How I wish I knew some of her thoughts and feelings.
This is just a tiny bit of the story of her life. I challenge you to document the story of the women of your family. Learn their birth names and that of their parents. I am blessed to speak her name and have her picture. For today that will be enough.
Ok, that title is totally false. There are more than 3 steps to organization. For every researcher there is a way different way of organizing information. The method you use choose for organization is not as important as having a method and being consistent with it.I would encourage you to do some research and find the method that works best for you.
Genealogy has come a long way since people were hand writing charts and family trees. Paper is still important (I think), but digital files are used primarily for most researchers. That being said, it’s important to keep paper and digital files organized. To increase the usefulness of your organization the two systems should be complimentary. Frequently, I’ve become so excited about a “find” that I didn’t slow down enough to keep everything organized. If finds are organized and filed properly (as well as citing sources) it’s much easier to determine what information you have and don’t have an how it connects or doesn’t connect with other members of your family.
A single document can shine a light on multiple family members simultaneously . For instance, a birth certificate will have the name and birth place of the child and names and (perhaps occupations) of the parents. Census records will record entire families and neighborhoods.
After, finding the WW II enlistment records for one of my ancestors, I realized that I haven’t scanned all of the military records that I’ve secured. It’s a good idea to update information for the individual ancestor, for example branch of military, dates of service, medals, etc. And if possible scan the source records and attachment to whichever database you might be using for your family research.
In the next several months, I need to make sure my files are organized, up to date (with the information that I have) and that all (most) of the source records are scanned attached to the individual(s) that they are connected too.
Tomorrow, I’ll talk about pictures (please make a note of who is in the picture, when and where it was taken) and metadata.
Anna Mae’s Oldest Grand-baby