UPDATE to Searching Maiden Names. Nearly ten years on from this post, the number of online resources for vintage and old newspapers has grown exponentially. At the same time, my tip for searching maiden names remains the same. It works in genealogybank.com, newspapers.com, or other online newspaper resources. And for those of us searching in major U.S. cities, newspapers.com’s Publisher Extra is a close equivalent to Proquest Obituaries and therefore invaluable. (No affiliation with any databases mentioned here, btw.)
Today’s tip – Searching Maiden Names – is going to be quick, since I have the feeling most of us are making holiday lists and planning gatherings instead of searching obituaries.
I’m continuing to mine the Proquest Obituaries database for paid death notices in the Chicago Tribune and it’s paying off handsomely: I now have 342 death notices corralled.
In fact, I’m discovering that searching this database (or other newspaper databases like Chronicling America or NewspaperArchive.com) is kind of like eating potato chips because I can’t search for just one.
Searching Maiden Names in Obituaries
Lately I’ve hit a streak of large families with mostly daughters and I have no idea what their married names became. And when the surnames are common ones, it leads to search results in the thousands and that’s just not helpful.
Some death notices or obits use the term “née,” the French feminine past participle of naître, meaning to be born. So I structured a limited search on “nee Benson” and to my surprise Proquest loves the search term and returned wonderful results.The first search returned 144 results. From there, it was easy to search within the results window for the first names of sibling sisters. Instead of hundreds of Esther Bensons, I had three and Ruttingh, Esther née Benson was the one I was looking for.
In the same set of search results for searching maiden names, I found Esther’s sister May. So give a “nee (maiden surname)” search a try – you may get some excellent results!
A nice quick tip before a more extensive search. I often search the knownlastname and her firstname (or the first name most used, if a nickname, for instance) and one close relative’s name, preferably a parent or sibling.
A great tip – thx for sharing, Diane.
I have to admit that I haven’t thought to use nee when researching maiden names. Thanks for the tip #geneabloggerstribe
Thanks, Cheri. I hope it works as well for you as it did for me.
Thanks for the reminder to use ProQuest. Especially since my library has free home access.
Great post! I always forget about ProQuest. Especially since my public library has it for free and home access.
It’s a phenomenal resource, isn’t it? Good luck with your searches, Deb.
I’m going to give this a try on my Richards family in Indiana in the 1840s. Wish me luck.
I do – good luck on those Richardses.
You’re welcome, D. I wish ProQuest would smart up and offer individual licenses to this database. I’d be first in line to buy one.
Thanks for the post! I know it’s a year later. I would love to use the ProQuest Obituaries but I don’t have access to a library that provides this service. It would be great though.
Great tip! Thank you.
I love this tip.
That is a fabulous idea! Thanks for sharing.