Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Women's History Month 2018: Bastardy Bonds

Sure, we tend to think that the "right" order of things in regards to our ancestor's intimate relationships is that a couple falls in love, marries and then has children. But life is not always so orderly for any number of reasons.

Delaware Public Archives.  https://archives.delaware.gov/100/wearelivingandlearning/Taking_Responsibility.shtml

Communities have always felt the need to ensure that they are not stuck with paying the bill for those living in poverty. In an earlier time, a woman with a child but no husband might be at risk for living in poverty.

And so we have bastardy bonds.

I probably don't need to explain what the term "bastard" means. But you may be wondering what a bastardy bond was. "Bastardy bonds were typically posted by putative fathers of illegitimate children to insure that the child was supported without public expense."*

"Bonds and records typically give the name of the father, his bondsman, as well as that of the mother and child, and the amount of the bond posted. Bastardy records may also include presentments against and examination of unwed mothers and mothers-to-be, warrants to bring putative fathers to court, and receipts for payments made on behalf of bastard children."*

So a female ancestor who had a child out of wedlock might be documented in a bastardy bond. These are great records for placing her in a time and location as well as confirming her as the mother of a child and possibly linking the father to them.

Look for these records through the FamilySearch Catalog, local courthouse or state archive. You might also want to read up on the existence of bastardy bonds in the location your ancestor lived.

The Legal Genealogist - Looking for Bonds
Delaware Public Archives - Taking Responsibility
FamilySearch - Catalog - Bastardy bonds and records (North Carolina), 1736-1957
FamilySearch - Catalog- Bastardy Bonds, 1880-1911 (Georgia)

*Bastardy Bonds and Records 1735-1966. State Archives of North Carolina.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Women's History Month 2018: Membership Records

OES Chapter from Brooklin, Maine. From the collection of Gena Philibert-Ortega
Our ancestors joined organizations, church groups, and volunteered. But knowing what they were a member of can be difficult at best. I think about my own paternal grandmother, who I knew, and I can't think of anything she was a member of. But as I think of other family members I can remember the church they attended, what they believed in, resulting in some ideas for possible membership groups surface.

Of course, a female ancestor may have also have been a member of an auxiliary to a male membership organization that her husband or father was a member of. Think in terms of the Grand Army of the Republic and women who were part of the Women's Relief Corps.

Looking at groups in the community might provide ideas for possible membership organizations. Searching city directories or local histories might also be of assistance. Those membership groups you identify kept records that now may be part of an archive.

Membership records can provide information like name, date, place as well as familial relationships, death information, and more.

Consider this entry from a ledger of meeting notes from the Order of the Eastern Star of Brooklin, Maine.* It includes information about a meeting held in honor of a member. It doesn't provide a death date but it appears that the date given may have been when she was buried.

From the collection of Gena Philibert-Ortega
Consider what memberships your female ancestor held and seek out those records. They can provide you a much more complete picture of her life including providing you with a glimpse at her FAN Club.


*This ledger is one a I purchased. If  an archive from Maine or the OES would like it, I'd be happy to donate it.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Women's History Month 2018: Community Cookbooks

(c) Gena Philibert-Ortega
Come on! You knew I couldn't get through a Women's History Month series without talking about the importance of community cookbooks!

Community cookbooks are a city directory of women. They can include:

  • Name
  • Date
  • Place
  • Organization or religious affiliation
  • Hints regarding familial relationships and ethnic background
  • Community advertisements
  • Food history
  • Organization history

They are a wonderful source for researching women from the late 19th century to the present day. The problem is in  finding the community cookbooks you need. In some cases, it could be a home source. Otherwise, looking in a variety of places including libraries, eBay, and local used bookstores can be a good start.

Legacy Webinars - Researching Women: Community Cookbooks and What They Tell US About Our Ancestors

Food. Family.Ephemera

Bower, Anne. Recipes for Reading: Community Cookbooks, Stories, Histories. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997.