Fearless Females: Free Research Resources

Tracing the females in your family tree can be a daunting task.  But there are plenty of online resources to help you track them down.

Verona Straka and Mary Straka Yuhasz.  Photo courtesy of Lisa A. Alzo (personal collection).


During this month, I will be sharing a few of my favorite free websites and sources for finding female ancestors (click on the links to go to the sites). Here are the first three:


1. American Women’s History: A Research Guide.  This database provides access to digital collections of primary sources (photos, letters, diaries, artifacts, etc.) that document the history of women in the United States. Offers detailed descriptions and links to more than 600 digital collections.

2. Cyndi’s List: Female Ancestors. Cyndi’s List (run by Cyndi Ingle) has been around since 1996, and currently contains more than 320,000 links for family history, with more than 200 links for female ancestors.

3. National Women’s History Museum. The official website of the National Women’s History Museum located in Alexandria, Virginia. Watch a video clip of actress Meryl Streep introducing the museum, or take a virtual tour via the museum’s CyberExhibits covering a wide range of topics from Women in Industry to Rights for Women to Women of Jamestown.  You’ll also find educational resources such as self-guided tours, biographies, and lesson plans and quizzes (for teachers).

Happy Searching!


Copyright 2014, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

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Fearless Females Bonus: Tracing Female Ancestors Webinar: Watch FREE for the month of March!

Celebrate Women’s History Month by learning how to research your female ancestors.

For the month of March, you can watch my previously recorded Webinar* (March 2011)  for free.

Silent Voices: Tips and Tricks for Tracing Female Ancestors 


Webinar Description: While most historical records have been created for and are about men, making it more challenging to research the women in your family tree.  In this webinar you’ll learn about key records for locating maiden names, as well as some unique resources pertaining to women, and the importance of documenting your female ancestors, including many suggestions for how to create meaningful lasting tributes to their lives. (67MB .wmv)

Click here to get to the video

*Please note that this recording is in Windows Media (.wmv) format and may not be compatible with all systems.  MAC users may wish to consider using the free Flip4Mac Player (The official Windows Media player on the Mac). 


ADDITIONAL NOTE: This webinar was recorded in 2011. Since the world of genealogy is dynamic, there may have been changes and updates to some of the resources and access to them. Please visit the websites or sources listed to get the most current information. In particular, there have been changes to accessing the Social Security Death Index, one of the sources listed in the presentation. To learn more about the latest changes, I encourage you to visit the The Legal Genealogist Blog written by Judy G. Russell, in particular the News from the SSDI front Post January 30, 2013.

Copyright, 2013-2014, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved


*This author of this blog/webinar presenter assumes no responsibility for any incompatibility with individual computers, tablets, or mobile devices, operating systems, browsers, or the inability of any such computer or device to play this video. or any resulting effects. By clicking on the link user agrees and accepts these terms.


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Back for a Fifth Year: Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month

In March 2010, I launched a series of 31 blogging prompts for celebrating and honoring the “fearless females” in our family trees. Many bloggers participated and I was asked if I planned on running them again. I’m happy to say that this series is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year.

So, to mark National Women’s History Month (beginning Saturday, March 1), I’m listing the 31 prompts below. 

You can choose to do some of them, or all of them–there’s no pressure–it’s meant to be a fun exercise to focus on the women and make sure their stories are told!  

Enjoy!

Also, watch this blog for other ideas, prompts, and tips to learn about your female ancestors.

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Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month


[Group of young womenreading in library of normal school, Washington, D.C.]Library of Congress, (Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer.); REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZ62-100288 (b&w film copy neg.) DIGITAL ID: (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3c00288 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c00288

Blogging Prompts

March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

March 4 — Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

March 5 — How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?

March 6 — Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)

March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

March 8 — Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.

March 9 — Take a family document (baptismal certificate, passenger list, naturalization petition, etc.) and write a brief narrative using the information.

March 10 — What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?

March 11 — Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?

March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

March 13 — Moment of Strength: share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

March 14 — Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Why? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?

March 15 — Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.

March 16 — If you could have lunch with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

March 17 — Social Butterfly? What social organizations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? Sewing circle, church group, fraternal benefit society or lodge? Describe her role in the group.

March 18 — Shining star: Did you have a female ancestor who had a special talent? Artist, singer, actress, athlete, seamstress, or other? Describe.

March 19 — Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?

March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

March 21 — Describe a tender moment one of your female ancestors shared with you or another family member.

March 22 — If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?

March 23 — Create a timeline for a female ancestor using your favorite software program or an online timeline generator such as OurTimelines.Post an image of it or link.

March 24 — Do you share any physical resemblance or personality trait with one of your female ancestors? Who? What is it?

March 25 — Tell how a female ancestor interacted with her children. Was she loving or supportive? A disciplinarian? A bit of both?

March 26 — What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

March 27 — Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?

March 28 — Do you remember your mother’s best friend? Your grandmother’s? How and where did they meet? How long were they friends? What activities did they share?

March 29 — Create a free Fold3 Memorial Page or a Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. Some of you may have created your own card back in September 2009 following Sheri Fenley’s post over at The Educated Genealogist. This time, the card is for your female ancestor. Tell us about who you’ve selected and why and then post a link to what you’ve created.

March 30 — Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

March 31 — Pick one female ancestor and write a mini-profile (500 words or less).

BONUS: Take all of your postings and turn them into a memory or tribute booklet for future generations.

Post an entry on your Blog when you have created your tribute. Tell us how you did it (what format, how you printed it or digitized it, etc.).

Copyright, 2010-14, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved
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Fearless Females Blog Post: March 31: Mini-Profile

March 31 — Pick one female ancestor and write a mini-profile (500 words or less).


[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]


I decided to write a profile for my grandmother’s sister, Anna Fencsak Bavolar.



Anna Fencsak Bavolar was born on May 15, 1893 to Ilona and Mihaly Fencsak in Freeland, PA. She arrived in America in 1911, and was matched for marriage to George Bavolar by her sister, Mary Ceyba. Not long after the birth of her first daughter, Mary, Anna returned to Slovakia to care for her mother, who was ill and now re-married to Mihaly Zelenak. During that time Anna experienced conflict with her step-father who was a possessive person and did not want Anna there looking after her mother. Ilona died in 1917, but World War I delayed Anna’s return home until 1920. Anna and her husband eventually had four more children. Anna’s son George was killed trying to jump on a moving truck.


Anna died in 1959 from “myocardial infarction,” and “congestive heart failure.”

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

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Fearless Females Blog Post: March 30: Words of Wisdom

March 30 — Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]



My mother taught me to believe in myself and that just because someone else had more money, more advantages, or more opportunities that I shouldn’t feel they were better than me, or that this made me less of a person. She also taught me not to give up just because something seemed difficult or impossible to accomplish. Mom was a very smart woman and while at the time I couldn’t understand the lessons or principles she was trying to teach, I can truly appreciate them now.

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

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Fearless Females Blog Post: March 29: Honoring a Female Ancestor

March 29 — Create a free Fold3 (formerly Footnote) Memorial Page or a Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. Some of you may have created your own card back in September 2009 following Sheri Fenley’s post over at The Educated Genealogist. This time, the card is for your ancestor.


[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]


I chose to create a free Fold3 Page for Elizabeth Alzo (my grandmother). I used data from the Footnote database to help build the page – there are links to the 1930 census entry for her and to her naturalization petitions. I also added an image of her obituary, and plan to add some stories, and more information down the line.

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved
http://theaccidentalgenealogist.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 28: Best Friend

March 28 — Do you remember your mother’s best friend? Your grandmother’s? How and where did they meet? How long were they friends? What activities did they share?


[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]


My mother’s best friend growing up was Dolores. I don’t want to infringe on her privacy so I won’t post her last name or a photograph or any more details. But I know that my mother was very close with her. While Dolores moved to another state, the two still kept in touch over the years with letters and Christmas cards. Many years ago, when I threw a surprise party for my parents 50th wedding anniversary, I invited Dolores and she came! My mother was so surprised–the two hugged and cried and spent the weekend sharing memories. I know it meant so much to my mom to have her best friend there. It was one of those extra special moments in time that you will always remember.


I’m not sure about my grandmothers. They were close to many of their neighbors and women they knew from church.

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

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Fearless Females Blog Post: March 27: Immigration Story

March 27 — Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?


[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

The immigration story of my grandmother Verona was what prompted me to begin my genealogical research. She was the last of her siblings to immigrate to America, arriving at age 22 with her niece Mary, who was 16.


She was detained for several days at Ellis Island for medical reasons. I wrote about her experience in my March 19th “Fearless Females” post, “Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? ” and posted an image of the ship’s manifest that documented she was detained.

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved


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Fearless Females Blog Post: March 26: Education

March 26 — What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

[Note: Portions of this post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

[Note: due to unforeseen circumstances, this entry is being posted one day late].


My mother graduated from high school but did not go to college (her parents could not afford it). Mom was very smart and good at math. But she went to work after high school and after she married my father worked part time. I think she sometimes regretted not being able to go to college, and she worked very hard to make sure I was able to, and was so proud that I went to graduate school to earn my M.F.A. degree.


My grandmothers each had what was likely the equivalent of an 8th grade education, but by no means were they unintelligent women. They were at a disadvantage being immigrants and, but somehow they managed their households, raised their children, were able to hold down jobs speaking very little English.


Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved
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Fearless Females Blog Post: March 25: Women and Children

March 25 — Tell how a female ancestor interacted with her children. Was she loving or supportive? A disciplinarian? A bit of both?

My mother was was loving and supportive, but also taught me to have respect for others, especially my elders. My mother was strict but I always knew she loved me and had my best interests at heart. Now that I am adult I can really appreciate my mother’s style of parenting. I also thank her for always believing in me and supporting my goals. She was my role model, especially with the way she cared for her own parents. I followed in her footsteps, caring for her and my father during their respective illnesses. My mother taught by example.


Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved
http://theaccidentalgenealogist.blogspot.com/atom.xml