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Proformat News
No: 42
August 2009
August Seminars
1: Practical genealogy for family historians Module 1 Accessing the primary research stream—the family Flinders University 9:15am to 4.00pm.
9: Coming to grips with FamilySearch WEA Centre 10:00am.
15: Practical genealogy for family historians Module 2 Accessing the secondary research stream—the paper trail Flinders University 9:15am to 4.00pm.

September Seminars
19: Practical genealogy for family historians Module 3 Interpreting the record Flinders University 9:15am to 4.00pm.

See the seminar program for more details.

Office closed
Adelaide Proformat will be closed from 15 Aug to 13 Sep and as a consequence the September issue of Proformat News may be published later than usual.

District BDM records
The Campbelltown Library holds the former Norwood District BDM duplicate certificates. These are currently unavailable while library renovations are undertaken and are not expected to be retrieved from storage until 2010.

SA Police Historical Society Collection
Although their web site states that the office is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays, a recent visit reveals that this Society is no longer welcoming researchers. All requests for information have to be by mail and a spokesman advises that the turn around now exceeds five weeks.

In this issue:
August seminars
September seminars
Office closed
District BDM records
SA Police Historical Society

Feature article
Researching the maternal line


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Researching the maternal line
Once research pre-dates the civil registration era many family historians come across a seemingly insurmountable barrier where there is no record of a woman’s maiden name. This was because the individual identities of women who lived prior to the twentieth century were often very tangled in those of their fathers or husbands, both by law, the teachings of the church and by custom. In many places, women were not allowed to own real estate in their name, to sign legal documents, or to participate in government. Essentially, the wife belonged to her husband. He had a right to the person and property of his wife; he could use gentle restraint upon her liberty to prevent improper conduct; he could beat her without fear of prosecution. Prior to marriage, this role was maintained by the woman’s father.

A researcher can use five strategies to help overcome the research barrier. (Note: most of the examples relate to English research pre-1837, however, the strategies can be applied elsewhere taking into account local differences.)

1. Focus on the woman herself
Seek out records she may have created. Seek out records created by those around her. These could include: letters, journals and diaries, cook books Wills (including her own if she survived her husband and was likely to have assets of £5 or more), marriage and death certificate witnesses, other church records, school records, poor records, headstone inscriptions, obituaries, and so on.
This material will not necessarily name the woman herself but they may mention male members of her family by name or they may provide some clues to further research.

2. Check out the people around the woman
You should be looking for records of people that you suspect may reveal the sought maiden name. If you come across a man or unmarried woman associated with your ancestor and carrying a differing family name, there is a chance that they may be her father, brother, or sister etc and their records should be pursued in the hope that you can confirm their relationship.
Perhaps a female friend or relative left information about your female ancestor in a surviving letter, diary or birthday book.
Many diaries were kept by emigrants during their passage to Australia and these often name other passengers. Such diaries can often be found in maritime museums and major libraries.
If your family was living in a community that experienced some form of disaster, it may be worth checking the news pages of the appropriate newspapers. The ancestor may feature in the article even if it is only a passing reference in a list of the deceased and injured such as…
Mrs May Jackson (the daughter of one of the seriously injured, Mr Thomas Johnson, a leading hand) gave assistance and comfort while the injured waited their turn for medical treatment.
Newspaper reports of inquests can be particularly useful as can the inquest documents themselves (if they have survived).
Many people lived on manors and their courts were active in the period of interest. These courts were very intrusive on the lives of their tenants and they would record marriages, births and deaths of tenants as a matter of course.

3. Check the associates of her husband
Friends are difficult to locate. Start by a check of marriage witnesses, death informants, diaries, witnesses in court cases, and newspaper personal columns. Often smaller regional newspapers, short on news devote space to reporting guest lists at functions. These same publications may even list funeral attendees. You would expect your female ancestor’s family to be at her wedding and funeral!
Business records are rarely available and those that are invariably concentrate on the management of the business rather than the employees. Look for craft and merchant guild, masters/burgess and apprenticeship records. Check out business licences at the National Archives and County Record Offices.

4. Find out how women of the time lived
In an era before social services:
   • the elderly tended to live with their children especially after the death of a partner.
   • an inability to work through age or infirmity usually meant poverty.
   • settlement certificates were not readily available and therefore people tended to end up in their home parish.
   • workhouses only took in the homeless poor—the rest were given handouts.
   • paid work by married women was predominantly home-based until the development of factories.

5. Undertake a deductive search of records
Of all these approaches this one is fraught with danger for the unwary researcher unless they observe the basic principles of research to the letter.The particular principles to keep in mind are:
   • Always work from the known into the unknown.
   • Never assume anything.
   • Be objective and do not let emotions and preconceived values get in the way.
   • Be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of primary and secondary resources
   • Understand the need to corroborate facts.
   • Evaluate your findings in the light of the reliability of the source.

Strategy 1—birth/baptism records
Seek out all records relating to the births of all the children. Locating the birth/baptism records of all the children in a family when the mother’s maiden name is not known may just reveal one entry where that piece of information is disclosed. Look for children carrying surnames as 2nd given names. Look for naming patterns—this works best in small communities with in families with a distinctive given name.

Strategy 2—marriage records
Seek out all records relating to the marriages of all couples sharing the names. Trace them all forward in time until you can definitely eliminate them from your considerations.

Strategy 3—records that required personal data
Search the less obvious records church records such as Banns Registers. Search out civil records including local newspapers.
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