The Hidden Half of the Family
by Christina Schaefer
By law and by custom, women's individual identities were subsumed by that of their husbands. Listed under their maiden name, married name or hidden under such terms as, "Mrs.," "Mistress," "good wife," "wife of," or "daughter of," it is clear that women are hard to find when conducting genealogical research.
The first part of the book -- a lengthy and informative introduction -- deals with the special ways women were dealt with in federal records such as immigration records, passports, naturalization records, census enumerations, land records, military records, and records dealing with minorities. All such records are discussed with reference to their impact on women, as are a group of miscellaneous, non-governmental records, including newspapers, cemetery records, city directories, church records, and state laws covering common-law marriages and marriage and divorce registration. The bulk of this absorbing new reference work deals with the individual states, showing how their laws, records, and resources can be used in determining female identity.
This engrossing new work is as amazing as it is informative, because it shows how women have been written out of genealogical history but it also demonstrates how their identities can be recovered. This is a new and promising path in genealogy, suggesting fruitful avenues of research and many new possibilities.
310 pp., paperback, 1999, ISBN 0-8063-1582-2