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How to find someone's maiden name

Updated April 17, 2017

It's not always easy finding someone's maiden name, but to a genealogist, doing so can reveal information about new family tree branches and surnames. There are a number of records that will sometimes list a woman's maiden name, as well as a number of places to locate these records.

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  1. Before attempting a search for someone's maiden name, learn about the various records that may contain this information. For example, marriage records listing the woman's maiden name include the marriage certificate, marriage license, marriage announcements and marriage bonds. Other useful records relate to cemeteries, census, land, church, newspaper, death, Bible, wills and military service.

  2. The Internet is full of genealogical information. Ancestry.com is always a good place to begin, since the vast amount of information in their database includes census records, obituaries, marriage records, death records and more. Ancestry.com does require a subscription to access most of their databases, but they also offer a 14-day free trial that can be cancelled any time during the trial period. If you do not wish to subscribe to Ancestry.com, you can try to locate records on free database sites such as Rootsweb.com. These free sites will be most helpful if someone else has researched and published the maiden name of the person you are looking for.

  3. If possible, plan a visit to the town where the woman you are searching for resided. The town clerk's office will have an archive of many of the records listed above. The library should have archives of old newspapers that could also contain information about the person's maiden name.

  4. If it is not possible to visit the town yourself, visit the state archives department's website for information about obtaining a record through the mail. These websites often have a printable application that researchers can fill out and mail back to the department along with a fee. The archives department will perform a search for the requested record and, if one is found, will mail a copy to you.

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Things You'll Need

  • A computer with Internet access
  • Funds to pay for the delivery of records
  • Printer if printing applications for records

About the Author

Jacky Gamble has been a freelance writer since 2008, and has written articles for Internet publishing companies, Ancestry.org and Families.com. She is pursuing an Associate of Science in business administration.

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