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Women and Genealogy Sort Your Story User Comment

Lorel Kapke, Creator of Sort Your Story had the pleasure of speaking with a user named Janet who had this to say about her female ancestors. As you read her comments, think about your female ancestors. What stories do you have to share? Are you thinking about writing a book about them?

Being the fourth generation of females named Janet in my mother’s family got me interested in learning about the others. One was my mother’s sister and the other was her mother. The first Janet was my GG Grandmother, a Scottish midwife. Janet Downie Hardie was married to a ship’s captain, lived in Edinburgh, Scotland had had given birth to nine children.  She studied obstetrics at Edinburgh University with Dr. James Simpson, the doctor who first used an anesthetic on a woman giving birth. That woman was Victoria, the Queen of England.

I became intrigued with Janet’ story, her becoming a Mormon in Scotland and after the death of her husband, joining a handcart company and with five of her children and her 30 year old sister traveling the six month journey from Liverpool, England to Salt Lake City.  They walked from Iowa City to Salt Lake pushing handcarts. She delivered eleven babies on the trek, the first being on the first day of the voyage. I have researched the handcart trek starting in 1856 until they got to their Promised Land six months later and have written a book about the Journey.

Thank you for sharing your story Janet!

© 2013, Sort Your Story, Sonoma, California


The Term “Housewife” in Genealogy

As summer rolls on Lorel and I have been thinking a lot about the women in our families and their lives. We’ve had several discussions and some of that will be posted here on the blog. To get that conversation rolling, we’d like to know what you think about the term “HOUSEWIFE” as so many women were and are referred to in census and other records. Their job is “housewife.” But what does and did that really mean?

Looking both in today’s society and the time of our ancestors, think about these questions:

  • Does the term housewife mean women have less value than men?
  • What does that term entail? Cleaning the house? Cooking, laundry, caring for the children and husband?
  • Does it mean she had no other skills?
  • Have you considered that maybe she had a small job outside the home but was referred to as a housewife when the census taker came around? Or that job was overlooked when an occupation was requested on a death certificate?

What does the term housewife mean to you if you are a woman today? How do you think being a housewife today compares to the role your grandmother or great grandmother played as a housewife?

Please share with us in the comments.

© 2013, Sort Your Story, Sonoma, California