I know I shouldn’t be surprised by such things, but while researching the Dutch portion of my family tree, I ran across an organization, which had this statement on the web site: _“You may be eligible to become a member if you are a descendant in the direct male line of an ancestor who …” _
I have no interest in joining, but if that one word were not in that sentence I would be eligible. But since three women stand between me and the last male in the that line, I am apparently too tainted by the feminine for me to be in their presence. Had those three women been men, I would have no more blood connection to the ancestors in question than I do now, except I would have some remnant of their venerable surname on my driver’s license.
But this brings up an interesting point. Many years ago after reading a book about patriarchal and matriarchal cultures, I wondered what my ancestry would look like from the latter perspective. What if I could make the family retroactively matriarchal? But I quickly ran into a brick wall. I could go back 4 generations to my 2nd great grandmother, but then I had a hard time finding any information. I had a name, a birth year and state. I knew when she married my great great grandfather. That was it. Fortunately, I found a mention of her parents and was able to find a bit more information, but not much. I am again blocked. All I have is a name and a birth place for my 3rd great grandmother. The same brick wall is encountered when researching most every other mother in my family tree.
I am a newcomer to genealogical research, but it didn’t take me long to notice how little information was kept about women. In some cases, only the first name remains in the records; or worse yet, she is only recorded as “and wife”. If it weren’t for her name in the birth records of her children there would be little other trace.
This is truly sad. I never got to meet my maternal grandmother, but from the stories I am told she was a lively, interesting, and loving woman. I wish I could have met her. I’m sure that every other of my grandmothers, great grandmothers, etc, would be equally interesting. But since all that matters is the male line, almost nothing trickles into the present, depriving us all of a half of our heritage.