25 March 2011

Browsing the NGSQ Archives During Women's History Month

by Toby Webb

Women appear in every genealogy but, because we usually follow surnames, too frequently they appear only as "wife of." March is Women's History Month. What is there in the NGSQ archive of past articles that focuses specifically on the research of women?

In September 2000, an entire special issue was dedicated to "Reassembling Female Lives." National Genealogical Society Quarterly 88 (September 2000). Elizabeth Shown Mills (with Rachel Mills Lennon), Barbara Vines Little, Kay Germain Ingalls, and Kay Haviland Freilich all contributed articles on finding and correctly identifying women in our research.

In 1999, Evidence, one of NGSQ's best known special issues, National Genealogical Society Quarterly 87 (September 1999), included articles showing how to use different types of evidence in genealogical proof arguments. Three of the key articles used cases of female identity to demonstrate evidentiary technique: Helen F.M. Leary, "Resolving Conflicts in Direct Evidence: Identity and Vital Dates of Mary Kittrell," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 87 (September 1999): 199-205; Marya Myers, "Discovering Identity through Indirect Evidence: Elizabeth James of Bristol, Rhode Island," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 87 (September 1999): 206-216 ; and Margaret Amundson, "Rebutting Direct Evidence with Indirect Evidence: The Identity of Sarah (Taliaferro) Lewis of Virginia," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 87 (September 1999): 217-240.

Many NGSQ articles have used questions of female identity to demonstrate problem solving for different ethnicities. A few examples:
  • Dutch: Robert V. Anderson, "The Mother of Mathew Goes (ca. 1660-1663) of Rensselaerwyck," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 74 (June 1986): 119-121.
  • French: Henri E. Carrier, "Resinger and Courteau, The King's Daughters," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 77 (June 1989): 151.
  • Irish: Marya Myers, "Overcoming Irishness in Boston: Anna (Anglin-Pettengill) Merritt's Climb to "Respectability"," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 86 (September 1998): 166-188.       
Others have offered general research methods:
  • Elizabeth Shown Mills, "The Search for Margaret Ball: Building Steps over a Brick-Wall Research Problem," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 77 (March 1989): 43-65.
  • Daisy Schwander, "Finding Origins for Immigrant Females: Chicago's Bertha Roeske and Her Unremembered Mother," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 81 (December 1993): 245-256.
  • Connie Lenzen, "Proving a Maternal Line: The Case of Frances B. Whitney," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 82 (March 1994): 17-31.
  • Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, " Immigrant Women and Family Planning: Historical Perspectives for Genealogical Research," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 84 (June 1996): 102-114.
  • Linda Bennett Johnson, "Name Changes within the Melting Pot: The Search for "Frances Vera Gilmore" of Detroit," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 85 (June 1997): 85-93.
  • Del E. Jupiter, "From Agustina to Ester: Analyzing a Slave Household for Child-Parent Relationships," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 85 (December 1997): 245-275.          
Several articles have taught us more about women we thought we knew:
  • Helen F.M. Leary, "Sally Heming's Children: A Genealogical Analysis of the Evidence," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 89 (September 2001): 165-207.
  • Robert de Berardinis, ""Madame X": Virginie Amelie "Mimi" Avegno (Mme. Gutreau) and a Family Note to Art History," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 90 (March 2002): 65-68.      
And several articles awarded Family History Writing Contest prizes have demonstrated that women make very good narrative subjects:
  • Richard Lee Tolman, "The Life and Times of English Immigrant Priscilla (nee Clark) (Pickett) (Pickett) Wilford," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 94 (December 2006): 267-286.
  • Del E. Jupiter, "Matilda Madrid: One Woman's Tale of Bondage and Freedom," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 91 (March 2003): 41-59.
  • Gwen Boyer Bjorkman, "Hannah (Baskel) Phelps Phelps Hill: A Quaker Woman and Her Offspring," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 75 (December 1987): 289-302.         
NGSQ, it turns out, has long been an important journal for women's history. NGS members can find and download these and many similar articles in the publication archives on the NGS website.


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