Finding Your Female Ancestors - March 2023

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Finding Your Female Ancestors

In this 4-week course, take your female ancestors from unknown to known by learning research techniques that will help you find records in which women are often mentioned. Additionally, learn the best methods for searching for women in newspapers and census records and how to analyze records to uncover your female ancestors.

DATE: March 14, 2023 - April 10, 2023

Researching female ancestors can be one of the most challenging aspects of genealogy. Why? There are many reasons: their surnames usually change after marriage; they don’t frequently appear in records; historically they lacked legal rights; and if they do appear in records it often only as a wife (for example as Mrs. Joe Smith). Finding your female ancestor means learning how to conduct research that takes into account how history and social conventions have impacted the documents in which women were recorded. This course will assist you in planning and conducting exhaustive research for your female ancestors. As with all genealogy research, this work will begin at home with family documents and familiar websites. Then you must branch out into the unfamiliar such as websites for archives and university libraries, venture into offline resources, and learn about women’s history. Additionally, you must learn which records are unique to women and to analyze familiar records with a woman-centered focus. Finally, we will take a look at how to develop questions about your ancestor’s life and how to find the answers to those questions.

 What You’ll Learn

  • Familiar records and what they tell us about female ancestors
  • Unique sources for information on female ancestors
  • Finding maiden names
  • Tools for conducting better research
  • Getting the most of familiar websites
  • Places online and off to find records for female ancestors
  • What can be found online in non-genealogy websites
  • Strategies for researching special populations of female ancestors including African American women and Immigrants
  • Best practices for improving the way you research

Course Outline

  • Lesson 1: Introduction: Thinking Differently About Researching Female Ancestors
    • Getting Started
    • Home sources
    • Research Plans
    • Creating Timelines
    • Research Logs
  • Lesson 2: Where Do I Look?
    • Determining what records can help
    • Finding aids
    • Information found in genealogical records
    • What's Her Maiden Name?
    • The Importance of libraries and how to search them
  • Lesson 3: Finding Her Online
    • Using the Catalog
    • Unusual Databases at
    • Better Ways for Google
    • Search out Digital Books
  • Lesson 4: Using Archival Records
    • What's an Archive
    • Archival Records
    • Finding Archival Records
    • Examples of records that can help
    • Sources that are unique to women
  • Lesson 5: Not All Research Is The Same
    • What to consider for researching immigrant women and African American women
    • Resources for researching African American women
    • What if I still can't find anything?

*The videos in this workshop are closed captioned.

About the Instructor

Gena Philibert-Ortega

Gena Philibert-Ortega holds a Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Master’s degree in Religion. Presenting on various subjects involving genealogy, women’s studies and social history, Gena has spoken to groups throughout the United States and virtually to audiences worldwide. Gena is the author of hundreds of articles published in genealogy newsletters and magazines and of several books, including From the Family Kitchen (F + W Media, 2012).

How do Family Tree University workshops work?

Take the course at your own pace! 

From the course start date, you’ll be able to log in to view and access your lessons and start interacting on the discussion boards. Your instructor will check in regularly to answer all of the questions and provide feedback. You will have access to your courses anytime, anywhere, with a computer, tablet or smartphone, and can study when it's most convenient for you.

After the course end date, the course will become read-only for one year. You will continue to have access through your dashboard to the materials, but the discussion boards will be closed. The materials are yours to keep. You can download them onto your desktop to access online or offline.

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