Search for content in message boards

Pro Genealogy Naming Conventions?

Pro Genealogy Naming Conventions?

Posted: 1366999536000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Fenske
I have a couple of questions regarding naming to accurately enter data. I would appreciate any help.

1. What is the proper naming convention for ancestors who Americanized their names? Example: I have an ancestor who's birth name is Krystyan Franciszek Fenske. He changed his name to Christian Francis Fenske. I have entered his birth name as the main name. Do I then simply add Christian Francis Fenske as an alternate name, or add it as an "Also Know As" fact?

2. I'm currently using Also Know As facts for nicknames. Example: Odelia Vetsch, aka Tillie. In Family Tree Maker 2012, I checked the box "Use AKA if available after the middle name", but this only shows up in the index as: Odelia "Tillie" Vetsch. Is there a way to have her name show like this once a tree is synced online?

3. I have a Herman Alexander Fenske. All of his American records list his name as Alex H Fenske. Do I add this as an alternate name, as well?

4. Last one... I also have an Elsabeth Christina Margaretha Neilson. All of her records list her name as Christina M., including her headstone. Do I add Christina as a nickname/aka, or Christina M. Neilson as an alternate name?

I hope all of that made sense. It's beginning to get a little confusing - even for me. :)

Thanks for your advice,

Re: Pro Genealogy Naming Conventions?

Posted: 1367132135000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1367132263000
The questions of naming can become very confusing. You've only touched the surface of questions that can come up. Whatever you choose to do, it is best that you try to stay as consistent as possible in your procedures. Some of this is personal preference.

1) This is an age-old question. I will usually use the foreign name for the immigrant. If that immigrant came as a young person and they have a lot of records with the Americanization, I may use the Americanization in the immigrant generation. If the next generation adopted an Americanization, I then show that spelling beginning in that generation. Different siblings may start different Americanization spellings in their respective branches, for example Fenske, Finski, Fenski, and Finske, etc.

2) I don't sync, so I can't answer your question. Do you mean that ancestry doesn't show the same "aka" name that FTM does?

3) I would enter his preferred name as Alexander Herman Fenske with a source of "Composite Name from Multiple Sources". I would enter Herman Alexander Fenske and Alex H Fenske as alternative names, with whatever sources, and Alex as an "aka" name, with its source.

4) If Elsabeth Christina Margaretha Neilson didn't come from a record, where did it come from? If that name comes from a strong source, that would be my primary name and Christina M an alternative name. I wouldn't use Christina as an "aka" as it is already in the name. We oftentimes don't know what their "real" name is (as you apparently do). It therefore is often difficult to know what the order of multiple names a person uses over their lifetime should be - especially when they use John R when younger and Robert J when older. I am usually inclined to use the name order they used later in life, but with all names spelled out (ie no initials, if I know the full name) - as the primary name.

Re: Pro Genealogy Naming Conventions?

Posted: 1367165883000
Classification: Query
One also needs to consider that the names may be what others used when referring a person, but that same person never used that name.

Some of the names that come from the census, one needs to remember that what the census taker heard and wrote may not be what the persons real name was. The spelling can be off the chart.

Re: Pro Genealogy Naming Conventions?

Posted: 1367187916000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1367190449000
As noted before naming is a very difficult and problematic area. This is caused very often by the lack of consistant entry between software programs. Many programs do not support the same convensions as others.

1) I always follow the GEDCOM standard v5.5.1
2) I always enter the prefered name as known at birth unless not known.
4) I always enter an additional name tag for married names.
5) I NEVER use _AKA or aka because it is not valid GEDCOM
6) I always add additional NAME tags with TYPE subtags to describe the type of name (i.e. birth, married, aka, name change, stage name, etc) Not Support by FTM
7) I always enter the name as a person would spell and use it. For some names this means surname first then given name.
8) I always use the local alphabet (Scaninavian, Slavic, Left to Right,R2L) on the primary name, then add a second NAME tag for an English spelling.
9) I always enter separate names where the spelling could be different regarding immigration changes.
10) When a custom gives surname spelling based on gender I enter the gender based surname and use other GEDCOM tags to index these individuals together. Not supported by FTM
11) When custom gives multiple surnames based on father/mother surnames. For example in many countries the child will receive a surname from both thier father and mother then add (for females) a husband's surname. I enter these names based on custom. Not supported by FTM.
12) Where custom gives no surname I do not enter a surname.

the GEDCOM standard is not perfect regarding names. It does not support name based on location or clan. I have to work around this issue.

Re: Pro Genealogy Naming Conventions?

Posted: 1367188897000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1367189036000
2. I'm currently using Also Know As facts for nicknames. Example: Odelia Vetsch, aka Tillie. In Family Tree Maker 2012, I checked the box "Use AKA if available after the middle name", but this only shows up in the index as: Odelia "Tillie" Vetsch. Is there a way to have her name show like this once a tree is synced online?

Tillie is not an aka, it is a nickname. Many people mix up this value.

AKA is used in general as aliases, working names, pen name etc. A common nickname Jack for John would be displayed with quotes around it. John Wayne is an aka for Marion Mitchell Morrison.

In GEDCOM a tag is available for NICKname, but if I recall FTM does not have this value. I would in FTM enter:

Given: Odelia "Tillie"
Surname: Vetsch
Posted: 1367205504000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1367205920000
For surnames, I use more of a branch by branch approach for males. As far as daughters of a name, if they married they probably only used their Maiden name a very few times, so I use what their brothers or father used.

For example, I am doing a surname study of Hallock. There have been branches that have adopted Halleck and Hallack spellings. There was also a Halliock spelling before 1790 which completely disappeared by the 1850 census, if not before. There are other spellings in records: Halick, Hollick, etc, which I enter as alternative names but never as a primary name - these have always proven to be mistakes.

The immigrant begins with Hallock. After that, a branch has to prove to me they have changed the spelling. Since I often don't have all the records and the ones I have are sparse, I have to see a definite and consistent change before I will change the patriarch and his children to the new surname spelling of either Hallack or Halleck. Those are the only three spellings I will use as primary names for descendants. I do have some Hallicks in my database, but those are persons not proven to be descendants and may actually be Hallicks (from another immigrant).


First and middle names and their order are more complicated and require a sensible judgement of what to use in the circumstance. I will generatlly give more weight to spellings and variations later in one's life than early in their life for pre-1900 persons. For example, I will usually take a headstone spelling over a pre-1900 birth record spelling, as that is more indicative to me what they desired their name to be. But that's not ironclad, it depends on the circumstances.

Be Cautious With Middle Initials

Posted: 1367505698000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1367513253000

Be Cautious with Middle Initials.

Lower case Spencerian writing is hard enough to decipher, but upper case is especially easy to misinterpret.

I have reached the point that although I enter a name with an initial as an alternative name, I enter the name without a middle initial as the primary name until I can at least see a second instance of it, or the full middle name to verify. I have gotten burned too many times where the middle initial was simply wrong - especially from hand-written census records.

This is doubly true for women. Women often used the first letter of their middle name as an initial when young, but used the first letter of their maiden name as their middle initial after marriage. This seems to be true for the majority of American women from at least 1850-1900 and even outside of that range. If you have a woman with a married name in the 1800ish to 1900ish era, chances are better than 50-50 that the middle initial is the first letter of their maiden name. This is true for headstones, as well as census and other entries.

Re: Be Cautious With Middle Initials

Posted: 1367511891000
Classification: Query
Be Cautious.....

This IS the best advice when assigning names, "period". My experience is that most people really do not understand the actual way names are used in the country, community, culture or time period where they are recording.

Learn the naming customs for the area and time that you are recording the name. Not ever place in the world follows US or "modern" naming customs. Surname/Family Name is not a concept everyone uses. People can have no surname while others can have three surnames. Some can have several Given/First names that are not "middle names". Families can give children the same "Given" in the same generation, Don't confuse the individuals!!
per page

Find a board about a specific topic