It eliminates confusion. A number of names once used for either sex have fallen into disuse for males: Eleanor, Mildred, Beverly, and Valentine.
The Social Security Administration put together interesting databases of popular baby names by sex from to the present: www. Look there to check the popularity of the names you're working on—or the popularity of your own name in the decade of your birth.
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Women's names present a special problem. You may find women under their maiden birth or married name, or even the name of a prior husband. You want to establish a woman's birth name in order to identify her parents, for they are your ancestors, too. List her by that maiden name, and indicate the names of her husbands. In your notes, list Mary Jordan her maiden name and show that she was married first to John Jackson and then to Frank Swift. Her full name would properly be shown as Mary Jordan Jackson Swift, listing first her given name, followed by her maiden name in parenthesis, followed by the surnames of her subsequent husbands with the latest at the end.
Though the proper full name of a woman includes her maiden name, and all married names, when you refer to her in your narrative, use the name she was known by at the time of the event. When you are recording a female on charts, but do not have her maiden name, insert only her first or given name. In the preceding example, if you did not know that Jordan was her maiden name, then show her as Mary. If you need to refer to her in your notes, show her as Mary Jackson Swift, indicating by the blank parenthesis that her maiden name is unknown.
How to Find the Maiden Names of Women in Your Family Tree
When her maiden name is established, you can fill in the blank. Be careful with women's surnames.
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The name you find in documents can be a maiden name or a married name. Death records include the name, sex, color, age, occupation, marital status, nationality, birthplace; date, place, and cause of death; date and place of burial. National Adoption Information Clearinghouse This website assists genealogists seeking modern vital records and gives current information on state laws and procedures. It also provides information on veterans buried in private cemeteries when the grave is marked with a government grave marker.
New York City Death Index 2,, records are included in the database. Obituaries and Cemeteries Online Helpful links on where to search for burial records, tombstone inscriptions, and obituaries online through this LibrarySpot site. Online Searchable Death Indexes Created by Joe Beine, this site lists death indexes by state and county, and includes obituaries, death certificate databases, probate indexes, and more.
If available, funeral home records may include information on the deceased's parents or next of kin. Was your ancestor's spouse or children in the military?
Pension applications and military service records often include good biographical information. Family members also often signed as witnesses. Churches are a good source for birth or christening records which usually include the names of both parents, sometimes including the maiden name of the mother.
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Church marriage records will usually include the spouse's maiden name and are an alternate source for marriage information for localities and time periods where civil registration was not in effect. It is only a clue, but the maiden name of a mother can sometimes be found among the names of her children. Unusual middle names, among boys or girls, might be the maiden name of a mother or grandmother. Or the eldest daughter might be named for her maternal grandmother.
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