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
15: Practical genealogy for family historians Module
2 Accessing the secondary research stream—the paper trail Flinders
University 9:15am to 4.00pm.
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.
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
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.
District BDM records
SA Police Historical Society
the maternal line
5 Windana Mews
Glandore SA 5037
Tel: +61 8 8371 4465
Fax: +61 8 8374 4479
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Genealogist - for UK census, BMD indexes and more online simply because it contains quality data checked by experts.
Proformat News acknowledges the support by
the maternal line
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
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
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
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.
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
• 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
• 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
• Understand the need to corroborate facts.
• Evaluate your findings in the light of the
reliability of the source.
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
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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