Matrilineal Succession

August 17th, 2015 | Posted by Barbara Belknap in Gather the Women


Genealogy is a passion of thousands of people. Maybe millions. My husband has been doing genealogy for over twenty years. When we were stationed with the Coast Guard in Washington, DC, we spent many weekends combing through files and micro-fiche at the National Archives, the Daughters of the Revolution, and the Library of Congress.

Virtually all genealogy is through the male line. The vast majority of women take on their husband’s name and their own “maiden name” is left by the roadside of life. Last weekend, I began to think about this with more vigor after talking to our daughter Amy. She is having a baby girl in September. Amy kept her last name of Belknap when she married her husband, but she and Scott have decided that the baby’s last name will be her husband’s.

On a whim, I went online and looked for female genealogy charts. They do exist and they are called Matrilineal or Uterine Genealogy Charts. I spent a lovely couple of hours working on a chart for myself, Amy, baby Edie, and my sister. It’s harder than you’d think, but it is doable. There is a solid line from Thorbjorg Larsdatter Bolstad (whose name means “Thor’s Protection”) to baby Edith (Edie) Simone Fisher. I had never heard of Thorbjorg before today!

I’ve created five charts, but I am not happy with it yet. When I finish, I will make copies for me, my sister, Amy, and Edie. Woman to woman to woman to woman.

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