Best Websites for Tracing Women (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: Grandmothers, Mothers and Daughters-Tracing Women  by Lisa Alzo, M.F.A.. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Best Websites for Tracing Female Ancestors[edit | edit source]

[Copyright 2010 Lisa A. Alzo. This list first appeared in an article for Internet Genealogy Magazine. Used with permission.]

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. Here’s a list of 15 fabulous websites for finding female ancestors (listed in alphabetical order). We’ve omitted listing the major players (subscription databases) already known to most genealogists to focus on those with more female-friendly information.

1. BellaOnline: The Voice of Women - Genealogy Site
Genealogy Editor, Tina Sansone writes informative articles on a variety of genealogy topics from Book and Product Reviews to Beginners Genealogy, Ethnic Links to Online Databases.

2. Behind the Name
Want to learn the meaning of your female ancestor’s first name, or its origin and variations? Try this free website dedicated to the etymology and history of first names. Use the search box, or by ethnic group. You can also learn about Name Days and use the fun tools like the Name Translator or the Random Renamer.

3. Cyndi’s List: Female Ancestors
Cyndi’s List has been around since 1996, and currently contains more than309,000 links for family history, with more than 170 links for female ancestors. The website has a main index, as well as a topical, alphabetical, and “no frills” and “text-only” indexes, or type a topic in the search box.

4. Discovering American Women’s History Online
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. Browse by: Subjects, States, Time Periods, or Primary Source Types, or use the Search box to type in a topic. One of the more interesting collections is Katrina Thomas Ethnic Wedding Photograph Collection (Bryn Mawr College) that includes more than 800 photographs of ethnic weddings in the U.S. (1960s-1990s). More than 70 ethnic and religious groups are represented. The “Photographer’s notes” section of each record provides contextual information about individual photographs.

5. Distinguished Women of Past and Present
This website created by Danuta Bois, and featuring 5282 links to 1875 women keeps growing. You’ll find biographies writers, educators, scientists, heads of state, politicians, civil rights crusaders, artists, entertainers, and others, and plenty of women not in the history books. Browse by subject or search by name. Be sure to check out the other useful resources and Danuta’s Blog.

6. Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month
Okay, this is a bit of self-promotion, but many readers of my Blog enjoyed participating in this daily blogging event to celebrate Women’s History Month in March. Each day was a different prompt to honor a female ancestor.

If you’re looking for a woman from your past, you might hit it lucky searching this database. The database is free, but you must register to search it and/or its Persons Bulletin Board. The website is strictly voluntary. Each member’s information has been entered by that member. The website does not obtain any data from any outside source. The site has been featured in Parade Magazine and USA Today.

8. 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).

9.Notable Women Ancestors
A free website by genealogist Susanne “Sam” Behling, hosted on RootsWeb offers an interesting database of female ancestors organized alphabetically or by categories. There are links to other websites and recommended books to aid with your research.

10. Prologue Magazine: Women and Naturalization Records
“Any woman who is now or may hereafter be married . . .” Women and Naturalization, ca. 1802-1940, by Marian L. Smith for Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration Summer 1998, vol. 30, no. 2. This article examines why women are not represented in early US naturalization records.

11. The Library of Congress - American Memory
The American Memory collection provides free and open access to historic documents, maps, photos, audio and video. The website has seven collections dedicated to Women’s History.

12. Top 10 Places to Find Maiden Names
Genealogist Kimberly Powell’s detailed article on ten record/resources to consult to track down a female ancestor’s maiden name.

13. Women’s Rights National Historic Park and Museum
In 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and four other women invited the public to the First Women’s Rights Convention to discuss expanding the role of women in America. At the end of the two days, 100 people made a public commitment to work together to improve women’s quality of life. This official website of the Women’s Rights National Historic Park and Museum located in Seneca Falls, New York, has stories, photographs, and history detailing the participants of the First Women’s Rights Convention, plus on information on planning a trip/visit to the museum, special events, and much more.

Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: Grandmothers, Mothers and Daughters-Tracing Women offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.