Tracing your women ancestors. A Free Online Talk for SoG Members

The Society has  published a FREE recorded online talk for our Members by our Genealogist Else Churchill entitled tracing Your Women Ancestors

Unfortunately, over the years, women have tended to be neglected by genealogists. It is not uncommon to find early pedigrees such as those found in Heraldic Visitations of the 16th century omitting daughter’s names or for a wife to be merely described as the daughter of her father without any mention of her forename!!  Early birth notices in newspapers may simply say the “wife of Mr >>> has given birth to a daughter”.

This is such a disservice to our ancestors and genealogy. For example, the body of Richard III found in the Leicester car park could not have been identified by its mitochondrial DNA without establishing the genealogy of the female to female descent from his sister to a present day descendent.  The pedigree should not only record that women existed. It’s imperative also to look for sources that show that women were economically active, that they had interesting lives and have their own voice.  

The talk gives a wide ranging overview of genealogical sources from the nineteenth to the sixteenth centuries that give an insight into women’s stories and voices. Of course it includes some familiar records like directories and censuses as well looking at sources relating to the fight for women’s suffrage, the conditions of working class women in sweated trades and the abuse of servants by some of the so called “servants registries”. Outspoken argumentative women may be punished by the church courts. Single mothers may be considered a burden by the poor law but many demanded support from the fathers of their children through affiliation orders in courts. Women demanded their day in the civils courts. Hopeful younger sons could consult a directory listing rich heiresses or widows. Your ancestress may be a victim of crime or criminal herself. She may be a virtuous property owner or an 18th century sex worker. You should just go and look!!


Accompanying the online talk are extensive student notes, a source list and further reading as well as exercises to help you find information about women in the Society’s library catalogue or on SoG Data Online. The talk can be found by logging onto the SoG Members’ area of the website and going to the tutorials in the Member’s Learning Zone

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