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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Figuring out the proper name of a female ancestor

Karen asked
How do I find the names of my great grandmother? Her maiden name was Minnie Miller, Minnie could have been short for Wilhelmina? She was from Denmark, the Chicago census says she came from Denmark in about 1888 and settled in Chicago and married Walter Ambler. Her death record lists no parents and neither does her obituary. What other source could I use?

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Karen, your genealogy problem is a bit of a challenge isn't it? Yes, Minnie could be short for Wilhelmina but it could also be a nickname that has no relationship to her "real" name. For example my husband's grandfather was born and baptised "Thomas Leon" as his first and middle name. His entire life he was called "Charlie" and on his driver's licence and all official records he is recorded as "Charlie"

But here are some ideas I had for you to perhaps track down Minnie. First, have you found her marriage record? What about birth records for any children? You might find the Ancestor Marriage Record Finder and the Ancestor Birth Record Finder helpful. They offer ideas for finding obscure marriage and birth records.

Next, a look in the 1900, 1910 and 1920 Chicago Illinois census on shows that Minnie gives the years 1885, 1886 and 1887 for her immigration. So be sure you are allowing a year or two on either side when you search. I would search for her from 1884-1888. Have you tried the Danish Emigration Archives for Minnie's arrival? Minnie also states she was naturalized by 1920 so I'd also look for those naturalization records. You can try Footnote's naturalization Records database too with a Footnote Free Trial

Please let us know here on AskOliveTree how you make out!

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