The usual sources:
Birth, death and marriage certificates - but always remember the sources of the information
Wills - of women, their husbands and their fathers
A woman’s brothers may provide key pieces of information
Old diaries and journals - in the family or in libraries and archives
Church/ society histories
Directories - even the old ones
Ask all relatives and contacts for the anecdotes they have
Seek out family keepsakes
General information, to put the times in context:
Do general research on women at the time
Look (in newspapers) for the fashions of the times
Was she a domestic servant? Check the books on the topic
Was she a homesteader? Check the books on the topic
Remember that the definition of acceptable behaviour has changed over the years
Links of interest:
Invisible women ancestors
Finding the elusive woman
Early Canadiana Online -- find comments made by early settlers
Pioneer Women of Vancouver Island, by Nellie de Bertrand Lugrin.
First Days Fighting Days: Women in Manitoba History, by Mary Kinnear.
Much To Be Done - Private Life in Ontario from Victorian Diaries, by Frances Hoffman and Ryan Taylor.
Piecing The Quilt: Sources for Women's History in the Saskatchewan Archives Board, by Barbara Powell and Myrna Williams.
Some Sources for Women's History at the Provincial Archives of Alberta, by Jean E. Dryden.
Remember - female lines are more reliable than male ones.
Updates? Corrections? Better examples? Send an e-mail to Dave
Updated October 6, 2006