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Widows and orphans have always had a special place in the law. But it’s not always the place that 21st century researchers might expect. An orphan in the early days wasn’t a child whose parents had died, but rather a child whose father had died. The law didn’t care much about the mother. She was just the widow, entitled to her dower rights and generally not much more. Learn more of the way the law treated widows and orphans, and what the records may tell us about them.Judy G. Russell is a genealogist with a law degree who writes and lectures on topics ranging from using court records in family history to understanding DNA testing. An internationally known lecturer and award-winning writer, she holds credentials as a Certified Genealogist® and Certified Genealogical Lecturer? from the Board for Certification of Genealogists®.