What Rule Did They Break?

I spent some time looking for an immigrant relative who came to the United States in the 1880s after her husband died. Several things combined to make her difficult to find, including:

  • She changed her first name. Many from her area of origin anglicized their name by directly translating it or by using a name with the same first letter. Not her. She picked something seemingly random and totally different.
  • She married again in the new area where she settled. The problem was that I didn’t know where this was or that she changed her first name.
  • She immigrated under her maiden name. Took me a while to find that.

She really didn’t “break any rules.” She either did things in a slightly unusual fashion or acted in ways that didn’t coincide with my assumptions about her. Which is why it is often good to get away from our assumptions about the subjects of our research whenever possible.

And look for extended family in hopes of finding the person of interest. That’s how this woman was finally located.