Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sunday Search: Mother’s Day And Maiden Names


This Mother’s Day I wanted to discuss an interesting situation that comes about in many of the genealogy conversations that I have with others. Unfortunately, the sentiments that follow are not restricted to those only now just starting their research… I have encountered many knowledgeable family historians that just seem to be stuck in a certain mindset. The issue is rather simple, and appropriate for this day, in that there are too many people only focusing on a fraction of their family history by overlooking the wealth of lineal knowledge that exists in a maiden name.

In several instances lately I have spoken to individuals who can, at great length, discuss the history of their surname and can also speak intelligently about their own mother’s line (and sometimes the lines of their grandmothers). However, that is where there maternal ancestry stops. Once they go back a couple of generations it seems as though they have forgotten that there are multiple paths that we can take into the past through both husbands and wives.

First, let me start with the fact that I am proud to have my mother’s maiden name as part of my own, serving as my middle name. It has allowed me to carry with me the surnames of both of my families and I do my best to remember that each day. Second, now as a father, I better understand the importance of teaching my son about all the families that he represents and I look forward to sharing that knowledge with him. Third, I have explored many of the different lines in my tree weaving between husband and wife and I can attest to the rich tapestry that is revealed when you allow yourself to take this journey.

There is so much more to who we are than simply our male descendants and the surname that we each carry. It is with this in mind that I encourage everyone to not just remember your mothers on this day but all the mothers in your family tree that have each had an impact, large or small, known or unknown, on who you are. Without the women in our family we would not have life… we would not have the layers upon layers of history and the fascinating lacework that is our own family genealogy. Mothers are what make genealogy possible and we should always remember that and honor them by knowing about all sides of the family.