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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Newspaper Research and Your Female Ancestors

Researching your grandmothers, aunts and other female relatives can drive a person to drink, or in my case chocolate. First you have to be aware of 'the prevailing social customs' and if she was married multiple times it can be daunting.

Was Grandma's Name Emma or Fred?

Depending on the time period your grandmother may have appeared under her husband’s name. Emma Rethmeier Schwemm may be referenced as Mrs. Fred Schwemm not Mrs. Emma Schwemm. I find this to be common when the woman's husband is alive.

So, when using or other newspaper databases be sure to try a variety of searches. When looking for my great grandmother I would search for:

Emma Schwemm
Mrs. Schwemm
Fred Schwemm

I would then perform all of the above searches with one 'm' and then again without the 'c' as these are the most common mispellings.

Maiden Name vs Married Name

I would also do searches under her maiden name. While newspapers can be great for finding obituaries, marriages and social events the people reporting probably did not verify each name. If there was a party at the Rethmeier home, it might be reported that their daughter Emma was present not their daughter Mrs. Emma Schwemm. By searching on her maiden name I would find the party and then find the people attending.

The names I would search under would be as follows:

Mrs. Rethmeier
Emma Rethmeier
Mrs. Rethmeyer
Emma Rethmeyer

I am currently researching a lady who was divorced two or three times. I cannot find any newspapers articles about her after she leaves her third husband. When I track down and document the last three years of her life I'll update this post!

In the meantime my favorite part of newspaper research is finding items that I did not know I was looking for!

Take Care,


Everyday Genealogy Desk Calendar

A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Female Ancestors : Special Strategies for Uncovering Hard-To-Find Information About Your Female Lineage

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