Sunday, June 13, 2010

Identifying Women: The Ultimate Brick Wall by Barbara Vines Little

Barbara Vines Little is an instructor for Samford Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. She is co-ordinator for the Virginia track of courses. She is editor of Magazine of Virginia Genealogy. She has been president of the National Genealogical Society and is a very popular lecturer and teacher. I will always remember she was the presenter wearing the black hat and red suit.
I was a little late getting to this class and literally took the last seat in the room. People were being turned away at the door, but a kind woman in the middle of the hall was pointing to a vacant seat near her. I climbed over a dozen people to get to this seat and I was glad. The room was jam packed with people and the lecture was jam packed with information.
This class was about "locating and deciphering the clues that help us identify the unnamed women in our family tree." The introductory premise was this. "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."
Barbara Vines Little next presented definitions in English common law for age, curtesy, dower, dower by common law, femme sole, femme covert, spinster, coverture, and next friend. She gave us a check list of questions we can ask about our female ancestor and she listed resources to use in determining a maiden name. She had lots of suggestions and ideas for sources to further our research on women. Some were very creative such as searching business records for the lists of people who charged at a store or reading the social columns in the newspapers near the time of a death in the family to determine who may have visited for the funeral.
I was glad I could attend this class and I learned a great deal.

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