I was recently emailed by someone trying to locate classmates for a school reunion. For some of the female classmates, he only had a maiden name. He wasn’t sure where to start and wondered if marriage licenses were the answer. Here’s what I suggested assuming he meant a high school reunion in the United States:
My top five suggestions would be:
- Google the first name of the classmate plus the name of your school. Many social networks encourage people to include their schools.
- If the maiden last name is unusual, try the phone book (paper or online). This could get you their parents, who might tell where their daughters are.
- If you haven’t started the search yet, go ahead and search the maiden names. More social networks are encouraging women to include both maiden and married names to make finding them easier.
- Take a walk back through your yearbooks and see if you can the female classmates in group photos. If you have contact information for some of the other people in your photos, ask them about the female classmate as they might have stayed in touch.
- If you have Facebook information for any of your classmates, start browsing through their friends lists if they’re available to you, looking for the first name of your female classmate. I’ve found long lost relatives and classmates this way.
Thinking about marriage licenses was a good thought. Most marriage licenses in the United States are issued at the county level and usually require the payment of fees to search for them. There are a few exceptions, such as Sanpete County Utah which has a listing of marriage licenses from 1850-2011 that can be viewed at no charge.
There are likely proprietary databases constructed by the private sector where marriage license data might be searched, but I’m not familiar with any that I can recommend to you.
I think this was an ok answer, but if you have other thoughts about how to find folks when all you have is a maiden name, consider leaving a comment.
Filed under: librarianship