March marks Women’s History Month and what better time to remember some of the research tips Legacy Family Tree Webinars has provided for researching female ancestors? Which webinars have helped you the most in learning more about the women in your family tree? Here are four webinars to help you research the story of their lives.
Michael L. Strauss, AG says the contributions of women in the armed forces and on the home front during World War II have been underestimated in his webinar Researching Your World War II Ancestors: Part 4 - War on the Home Front & Post-War Years. In this webinar he provides ideas for researching World War II era women including nurses who served in the United States Cadet Nurse Corps." By the end of the war in 1945 nearly 124,000 nurses served in this capacity.” Strauss points out that Ancestry.com has a database, U.S., World War II Cadet Nursing Corps Card Files, 1942-1948 which allows you to research your World War II nurse.
Historical time period is important in considering what records document your female ancestor. Make sure that you use a timeline and identify what historical events might result in additional records.
Remember Resources that Document Women
In my webinar Researching Women - Community Cookbooks and What They Tell Us About Our Ancestors, I point out the importance of community or fundraising cookbooks in researching women’s lives. Community cookbooks serve as a city directory of women and help you confirm an ancestor’s location at a specific time. In addition, community cookbooks at the very least provide membership affiliation which can lead to additional records.
It’s important to remember the types of sources women are more likely to appear in. Don’t limit your search to only the familiar government sources, expand it to include sources that document her everyday life.
Remember the Men in Her Life
Bernice Bennett's United States Colored Troops Civil War Widows' Pension Applications: Tell the Story points out that Civil War widows, both black and white, were required to provide proof of marriage. That proof may include documents like marriage certificates, birth and death records, bible records, family letters and depositions from witnesses. What's unique to the United States Colored Troops’ pension records is the inclusion of the name and location of the slave owner and information about slave marriages. It’s through the information found in these pension records that you can find her story including facts that are difficult to prove like a slave’s marriage.
Remember that in order to do an exhaustive research on female ancestors we need to take into consideration what records document her family and we need to consider her FAN Club (friends, associates and neighbors).
Remember the Law
It’s important to remember that paper trail for women is influenced by the law and its impact on women during the historical time she lived. Legacy webinar presenter Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL emphasizes the importance of the law in her webinars and helps researchers better understand how to research with the law in mind. Family historians should take note of laws that affected the ability of women to own property, vote, and exercise their rights of citizenship. Judy’s webinar Martha Benschura - Enemy Alien reminds us that citizenship, or the lack or, can lead to records that go beyond naturalization.
One book that will help you better understand laws that affected American women is Christina Schaefer's The Hidden Half of the Family: A Sourcebook for Women's Genealogy.
What Has Legacy Taught You About Female Ancestors?
Many of the over 600 webinars Legacy now offers in its library holds lessons for researching female ancestors. The above are just some webinars you may want to watch or re-watch. What has Legacy Family Tree Webinars taught you about researching your female ancestors?