American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society - Founded 1845 N.E. Historic Genealogical Society Seal View Your Shopping Cart Join NEHGS

Discussion Board

Researching women in VRs - opinion
User Rank: Beginner
Joined: 7/11/2011
Posts: 1

Created By:Bruce Veazie
I have just recently become aware that guidelines for indexing vital records suggest that, for marriage records, a woman is not indexed by her married name. If that is true, the effect of that guideline is to make it much more difficult to determine the identify of our female ancestors! It is, unfortunately, a frequent occurrence that a woman appears in records (e.g., census) with only her married name indicated. If her maiden name is not known, and her husband is unknown, a lack of an index entry for a marriage record under her married name will make the discovery of her family much more difficult, if not prevent it all together. I certainly believe it is not the intent of NEHGS to make researching women more difficult, but that would be the result. It's not the intent that's important, it's the impact!
User Rank: Beginner
Joined: 8/9/2010
Posts: 1

Created By:John Slaughter

The MA Vital Records Project,, is working on this. However, it is a long way from being implemented. The project has nearly 2 million records that have to have indexing information added. The indexing info includes gender, event date, names of parents, maiden name if the person is female, maiden name of mother, if known, and at least one spouse, if known.


The project is currently being revamped so that all towns appear the same and you can research any transcribed town alphabetically and chronologically. Alphabetic looks a little strange as names are indexed using the most common proper spelling, i.e., Abby, Nabby, Knabby, etc. all appear with Abigail. There are over 150 known variants of Elizabeth and its diminutives.


Another change the administrator is working on is consolidating surnames with all of its variants. The Rowley VRs were published this way. The administrator inserts the original spelling after the given name and is in red so the researcher will know.


When all existing records are indexed, a database will be created that can be searched using any of the above criteria.

User Rank: Contributor
Joined: 8/9/2010
Posts: 38

Created By:Dale Cook
I would like to suggest that anyone with an interest in having access to John's greatly improved index to VRs, and who can spare some time, should contact John and volunteer to help with the project. The work is far greater than one man can accomplish and he can certainly use any help that a volunteer can offer.

Dale H. Cook, Member, NEHGS and MA Society of Mayflower Descendants;
Plymouth Co. MA Coordinator for the USGenWeb Project
Administrator of

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

© 2010 - 2014 New England Historic Genealogical Society