28 July 2009

The Search for Mrs. John Doe

Yesterday amidst the on going construction - I decided I needed to get back to typing obituaries. I've still got about another 25 or so to go on the ones from Elkhart County, Indiana. One thing that continually haunted me throughout the day of typing was the "....daughter, Mrs. John Doe...." that I kept running into.

With so many of these popping up in my genealogy research I've finally devised a plan of attack on figuring out just who these Mrs. John Doe's really are.

First thing I check is to see if the other parent - has an obit and if so, how is the Mrs. John Doe named there? A few times I was able to end the search right there. Most of the time I was not so lucky. Depending on who else is listed in the obituary itself, sometimes you can look for clues there. If not, here's some tips on trying to figure out the identity of Mrs. John Doe.
  • Other parents obituary
  • Siblings obituaries
  • Census records - only if in correct time frame
  • City directories - often spouses are listed as well as primary resident
  • Published Thank You note in newspaper
  • Ancestry - don't forget that this must be followed up on & proven by you!

I'd love to hear your "sources" for finding Mrs. John Doe... share them in my comments section - I don't respond to them all, but I do read them!

Happy researching!



Ambar said...

I did this for one obituary in my collection. I already knew his daughters' names from census data, so I searched death records in that state for [daughter's first name] John Doe and figured out which daughter corresponded to which married name in the obit. Fortunately none of the daughters married anyone named Smith. :-)

Greta Koehl said...

I've had to try a lot of different tricks to find these daughters' names, mostly the same ones you have mentioned. I also check things like WorldConnect. I've also had to do the "matching" logic puzzle like the one described above several times. But my favorite puzzle was trying to figure out which person was the husband and which the wife (both names were given, but the obituary apparently got them backwards because the wife's name was Roy).