How Do I Find Someone if I Only Know Their Maiden Name?


So, you want to find someone you’ve lost touch with. Perhaps it’s an old friend, classmate, or long-lost relative. One problem is that you only know the person’s maiden name. Maybe they changed their name on purpose or got married. Fear not; we will show the best ways to find someone using only their maiden name!

It is possible to find someone, living or deceased, knowing only their maiden name using the right vital and public records. Many vital records will use a maiden name in place of or in addition to a married surname. In some cultures, women keep their maiden names even after marriage.

Read on to learn more about how to find a person by their maiden name. It’s not that complicated, but it takes time!

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Steps to Find an Ancestor Using Their Maiden Name

Here is how you can find an ancestor by using their maiden name.

  1. Search vital records (birth and death records).
  2. Look for marriage licenses, records, or announcements.
  3. Do online searches using various people search sites.
  4. Look at social networks and social media platforms.
  5. Hire a private investigator.
  6. Ask the family for clues – privately!

And, of course, let’s not forget the last step, patience. Prepare yourself; this will take time. Who knows, perhaps you will be one of the lucky ones where a simple search on Facebook will do the trick.

Step #1: Search vital records

Vital Records include birth certificates, marriage certificates and licenses, divorce certificates, separation agreements, and death certificates. It doesn’t technically include obituaries, so don’t forget to search for them!

Vital records are a great source for finding someone’s married name from the maiden name. That way, you can keep going in your genealogical adventure.

Genealogy Pals

Vital records are a major source for finding someone’s married name from their maiden name. There are several types of vital records, as we mentioned. So, where to start?

First, start with the marriage certificates and licenses. These records have the details like the bride and groom’s name and the place and date of the marriage.

It is also interesting that they include, among other things, the names and birthplaces of the bride’s parents.

Second, we suggest checking out the divorce certificates to be sure. You never know if the person has been married two or more times.

Step #2: Look at marriage records

Marriage records are a part of the vital records and are one of the best ways to discover someone’s maiden name, but sometimes there are other marriage records beyond the vital records. They include bonds, bans, licenses, and consent affidavits. These can be found at local church congregations, record offices, parishes, or anywhere people get married.

I can’t help but wonder what kind of marriage records I’d find in Vegas. Off-topic, I know. But still a thought I’ve had!

A marriage certificate or license is the best bet to find the person. The certificate lists the spouse’s name and other information to help us search.

Step #3: Do an online search

Consider subscribing to online search sites with thousands of marriage and birth records. The search is simple; type into the search bar as much information as possible, like the first name, maiden name, city, state, date of birth, etc.

Seriously. Even just Google the person. You’d be surprised what shows up.

Step #4: Use social networks

This one is a no-brainer. Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn are probably the first thing that pops into our mind when trying to find someone. Most people add their maiden name because they want to be found on social networks by old friends.

There is an option to search by universities, schools, or companies because some of our colleagues might be in touch with the person we are looking for.

Important note: this step won’t work for someone who never had a social media account. So don’t be looking for Great-great-grandmother Marjorie’s Facebook account. She didn’t have one because she died in 1928.

Step #5: Hire a private investigator

Sometimes hiring a professional is the only option. A private investigator can access official records that are not accessible to the public.

Step #6: Ask the family

The last recommendation, but not the least important, is to talk to old friends and family. If you know about the person’s family, contact them, and maybe they will tell us where to find the person.

Sometimes, the family won’t tell us the information if the person doesn’t want to be found.

That’s why we recommend you ask them in private. That way, the person may be more likely to open up to you – especially if they know you’re coming from a place of love, compassion, and understanding. And that you aren’t going to rat them out to the rest of the family.

Seriously. Don’t rat them out. Many people go no-contact with family for safety reasons, and you don’t want to risk anyone’s safety. Plus, the aunt who told you where cousin Gretta went won’t talk to you anymore.

If Auntie says it’s okay, make a note in your files and keep that information safe for when it’s appropriate.

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Can I Find Someone With Just a Maiden Name and Birthdate?

We can find someone with just a maiden name and birthdate using public online and offline records and different search engines, especially with birth certificates.

The more information we have about the person, the easier the search gets. As with any genealogical research, start by gathering all the necessary information like maiden name, birth date, etc. 

Here are a couple of options for finding a person with a maiden name and a birth date.

Personal search engines

Personal search sites, like dobsearch.com, are a great option for a deep web search where government agencies assist with all the information and details and source the information from social media profiles.

Once we get to the site and type the maiden name and birth date in the search bar, the site will forward us to the sales page. There we will be asked to pay for the records or to subscribe.

Not all sites will charge for the full results, some will give the information for free, but there is usually a catch, so be prepared.

Also, try some of these sites in a search: Familysearch.org, Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com, and classmates.com.

Social media

Social media is a great source to find someone with only a maiden name and a birth date, and most of us know how to use it. More than three billion people are using social media, so the chances of finding someone are in our favor.

Again, there is a catch. If we have a social media profile, we probably know that social media allows us to hide particular information. But luckily (there is always a but), if we are persistent, there is a way.

For example, we can search on social media using first and maiden names. Once we get the returned results, all the fun begins. We can check out every listed person’s birth date, one by one, and if we have any luck, we will find our person.

That assumes, of course, that the person’s profile is publicly shared. And that they used all of the right information.

Sometimes people do hide their birth date. In this case, it would be helpful if we have any other additional information, for instance, some mutual friends or something similar.

Public records

Public records are available online and offline. The access is free of charge, but most likely, we will have to pay a small fee to the website because they make the records available at a simple click of a button.

We suggest using marriage records and birth records. They are particularly convenient if we don’t know the current name, just the maiden name and the birth date.

Most places also tend to share enough information for free that you can use that information as clues to narrow down possible people on social media.

Many “people search websites” also tend to have a “possible relatives” section. Those can be used to narrow down prospective matches to the person you’re looking for through social media.

Side note: this is also a good method to find DNA matches you’d like to know more about!

How Do I Find Someone’s Mother’s Maiden Name?

We must search various accessible records and databases to find someone’s mother’s maiden name. Birth certificates will be the best way to find someone’s mother’s name. From there, a marriage certificate may be required to find the mother’s maiden name.

So, if we’re stuck and cannot find our friend’s mother’s maiden name, don’t worry; we’re not the only ones in this vicious circle.

Women change their names when they get married, so here is a small list of where to find their maiden names.

Marriage records

Again, marriage records are the obvious place to find someone’s maiden name. As said before, here we can find the names of the bride and groom and their parents, birthplace and date, and the place and date of the marriage.

Obituaries

Obituaries almost always list the maiden name along with the married name, sometimes the parents’ name, and the birthplace.

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Cemeteries

On a gravestone, we won’t find the woman’s maiden name, but we can find traces of family relationships like inscribed family surnames that might be that person’s maiden name.

Court records

Court records include criminal proceedings, marriages, divorces, probate records, property transfers, deeds, and wills. All of these records we can find at the county courthouse where the person lived.

In this case, wills are particularly interesting because they often list the daughter’s maiden and married name.

Military records

Believe it or not, military records are another great source to find out someone’s mother’s maiden name, especially military pensions. They reveal the details about a soldier’s mother or wife.

Pensions include information like the wife’s name or mother’s, the date and place of the marriage, and a list of children.

Leave out the last name in your search

Yep, you read that right! Often times we think we need to have the current name to find out the person’s maiden name. Don’t get me wrong, starting with a married name is a logical first step if we want to find out someone’s maiden name.

But, if we fail in our search repeatedly, it’s time to change our perspective. For example, we should use only the first name and other information like the birth date, death date, or spouse’s name.

This way, we can look into new and different areas of our search.

Next Steps

Hopefully, this article gave you guidelines on where to start a search. It can be very challenging to find someone with just a maiden name. The person could be married or remarried, making the search more difficult.

Research everything that comes your way. It may take a while, but it will be worth the time. Don’t forget to verify every bit of information you find and use assumptions as guidance, not the truth.

For more help, these articles have some great guidance for finding people:

Resources

When learning about genealogy, it’s important to learn from various reputable sources. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as genealogists.

  • Bosman, Steven. “How to Find Someone by Name and Birthdate Free of Charge.” Totally Free People Search, 21 May 2022, www.totallyfreepeoplesearch.org/search-by-name-and-dob.
  • Daily, Family History. “7 Little-Used Tricks for Finding That Missing Maiden Name.” Family History Daily, 10 Mar. 2020, familyhistorydaily.com/genealogy-help-and-how-to/7-little-used-tricks-for-finding-that-missing-maiden-name.
  • FamilySearch Wiki. “Tracing Women Identifying Maiden Names (National Institute).” FamilySearch Wiki, 10 Oct. 2015, www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/Tracing_Women_Identifying_Maiden_Names_(National_Institute).
  • Guy, Records. “How to Find People Using Their Maiden Name.” Background Records Blog, 27 Sept. 2018, www.backgroundrecordsblog.com/address-records/how-to-find-people-using-their-maiden-name.
  • Krout, LaVonda. “10 Records for Finding Maiden Names.” Family Tree Magazine, 29 June 2021, familytreemagazine.com/names/surnames/maiden-name-records.
  • “Online United States Birth, Marriage, and Death Records.” FamilySearch, 21 July 2022, www.familysearch.org/en/blog/online-united-states-birth-marriage-death-records.
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About Us

We’re your genealogy pals, Breanne and Kimberly. We love talking all things genealogy and family history – both what we’ve learned in courses and while actively doing our own genealogies. This website is where we share everything we’ve learned about genealogy – like you’ve got your own genealogist friend at your side.

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