Researching women in the United States is compounded by the fact that researchers need the woman’s “maiden name,” the surname of her biological father.

In some cases what the researcher thinks is the “maiden name” may actually be a step-father’s last name, the mother’s last name, an adopted father’s last name, or the last name of a previous husband.

All things to consider.



3 Responses

  1. I am not a feminist, but sometimes it seems that women are often ignored in the genealogy field. A grandmother is just as much a part of my heritage as a grandfather, yet there is so much importance put upon the paternal line. Just because I married and took my husband’s family name does not mean that I am not a Reynolds. If it were not for “maiden” names, we would not be able to identify our paternal ancestors that repeat personal names generation after generation.

  2. With a patriarchal society, legal documents tend to center around the male line. At the time of my divorce many years ago, the judge told me that I lost my maiden name when I married. Therefore, I would not be able to take it back after my divorce and would have to keep my ex-husband’s surname. Also, as he would be paying child support, I could not have their names changed to my maiden name either. The divorce was a messy one. I told my children to have my maiden name put on my tombstone if it was possible. I did not want his name forever.

    I have since remarried, and my second husband is a wonderful person. I have no problem using his name. I still selectively use my maiden name in lieu of my middle one, as it is the only one I could carry on from my previous marriage. Both of these names have the same initial. When at a family related function and my family needs to be identified, I put my maiden name as a middle name.

    At the time of my sister’s divorce, the judge allowed her to take her maiden name back even though there were still minor children, and child support would be paid. All is dependent on the attitude of the judge hearing the case.

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