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2018 Annual Genealogy Lecture

Finding Your Female Ancestors, with Lisa Alzo, Barbara Vines Little, and Elissa Scalise Powell

Name changes, as well as differences in legal and social status, can make finding female ancestors difficult for genealogists. Where can you look for a wife's first and maiden name when she is only listed in the census as a female living in the home of her husband? What about when she isn't listed at all in a city directory or on a land deed? The Maryland State Library Resource Center’s 17th Annual Genealogy Lecture will honor Women’s History Month by welcoming three prominent genealogists, who will each present a lecture on the topic of “Finding Your Female Ancestors."

Elissa Scalise Powell will present "Hiding Behind Their Skirts: Finding Women in Records." Women traditionally and historically have not participated as fully as men in creating records and therefore are not as accessible to researchers. Research for our women ancestors must be done by connecting them to others in their family, social, economic and church circles. Maiden names may be discovered on the records of the women's children, church records, and courthouse records. The trick is to ever-widen the sphere of influence and discover all possible records referring to the subject and her family. This lecture gives concrete examples of how to search for the lost women on our pedigree. 

Lisa Alzo will present "Silent Voices: Telling the Stories of Your Female Immigrant Ancestors." While most historical records have been created for and/or about men, making it more challenging to research and write about female ancestors, this session will demonstrate effective ways to discover your female ancestors and how to document the important roles their lives played in culture and society. Ms. Alzo will also discuss various methods for writing about your female ancestors (from short, informative biosketches or profiles to writing a complete book), along with options for publishing your family history. 

Barbara Vines Little will present "Femme Covert or Femme Sole: Women and the Law." This lecture covers English common law and its effect on women from the colonial period through the Civil War. A woman, whether servant, slave or free, frequently lost and gained property and other rights based upon her age and marital status. In order to successfully research women, it is necessary to understand these rights and how and under what conditions they changed.

We will end the day with a question and answer session, "Daughters, Mothers and Wives:  Researching the Women in Your Family Tree." Bring your questions and brick walls related to researching female ancestors to this moderated question and answer session with our guest speakers. Don't miss this opportunity to pick the brains of three distinguished professional genealogists with almost 85 years of combined experience.

To register, call 410-396-5468, or email

Saturday, March 10, 2018 at 10:00am to 4:30pm

Maryland Historical Society, France Hall 201 W. Monument St., Baltimore, MD 21201

Event Type


Age Group

Adults, Seniors

Compass Category


Event Publisher

Emily Levine, Manager of Adult Services

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