Monday, August 31, 2015

FamilySearch Family Tree Rules for Entering Names

What "rules" or "guidelines" or "conventions" do you use to enter names into your genealogical program or your online family tree?

As many of us know, different cultures have different naming patterns - some with a family name first, or a family name last.  Here in the English speaking United States, we have a first-middle-last name system that usually takes the father's last name as ta child's last name, but not always.  Some children are being named with a mother's - father's last name system, like Smith-Jones.  In historical times, persons may have changed their names to Anglicize them, or to reflect adoption, or for other reasons.  How do we deal with this in our research?

I decided I wanted to see if my naming "rules" were as consistent as possible with the FamilySearch Family Tree.  When I looked at my RootsMagic file, I see first names like "male" or "child" or "unknown," and last names like "Unknown" or "_____" or LNU."

1)  FamilySearch has created a set of Family Tree tutorials at  http://broadcast.lds.org/elearning/fhd/Community/en/FamilyTreeCurriculum/index.html that has a Level One section titled "Reading Tutorial, Rules for Entering Names."


These rules seem pretty reasonable, but I have some problems with them.

2)  I am in the process of eliminating all of the "unknown" first and last names, especially for married females, that have popped up over the years in my database.  What should I replace them with?  There are some choices:

**  The rules above say to name a married female "Mrs. Mary Last" when you know her first name but not her maiden last name,
**  The rules above say to name a married female "Mrs. First Last" when you don't know either name, and her husband's name is "First Last."
**  If the married female's given name is unknown, then name her "Mrs. Last" if her husband's last name is "Last."

**  When the parent's names are known, but a daughter's given name is not known, just use the last name.
**  When the parent's names are known, but a son's given name is not known, just use the last name.

3)  Some questions are raised by these "rules" including:

** What about if I know only the husband's first name, like a Scandinavian patronymic?  Do I just use that?
**  I guess a husband whose first name is unknown is entered just as "Last."
**  It feels funny to list a second wife as "Mrs. First Last" when I don't know her maiden name.

4)  I'm not satisfied with the Family Tree naming rules, but I don't have a clear set of rules for my own family tree.  

When I encounter a record with a different name for a person in my database, I enter that name as an "Alternate Name" and source it to the record.  That includes name vairations like Randall Jeffrey Seaver, Randall J. Seaver, R.J. Seaver, R. Jeffrey Seaver, Randy Seaver, Randy Jeff Seaver, etc.  Everything but "hey, you" it seems!  I try to make the preferred name the most complete name, or the name with the most authoritative source.

But then there are the immigrant names that have been Anglicized -- like Philip Jacob Konig (I know, I need the diacriticals too!) with the German name in some records and the surname King in other records because he was called that name. I have entered that as "Konig/King."  Then there is my Richman family in England who quickly adopted Richmond in America after immigrating in 1855.  I have ancestors in England with Latin names in the baptism records, but they were the English equivalent in other records and in common use.   I'm not consistent, it seems!

5)  What other naming conventions are there?  How do you handle these variations?  There must be reference books with recommendations for names.  I think the software programs have naming conventions also.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2015/08/familysearch-family-tree-rules-for.html

Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver


Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Or contact me by email at randy.seaver@gmail.com.



16 comments:

Dona said...

I so agree, Randy! I have real trouble with using the married name for a woman, when her maiden name is unknown. I have families with the same surname marrying each other, so I rely on knowing that Ritchie is the actual maiden name of a woman, not her married name (even if that is also true). Finding these married names in family trees is very confusing, even more so than encountering LNU or ??? entered for surname. In the latter cases, I at least know the maiden name is unknown, a very important thing in genealogy.

We should be striving to be completely clear in how we label our individuals, not making things more difficult.

Tracy Minsterman said...

Personally, I subscribe to the five underscores method. It very clearly illustrates that I have missing information in both my database as I am working with it and also on any reports that I run. I don't like leaving the field blank because that makes me think I just forgot to enter info and I don't like placing a married name or an unknown in the field because it confuses both me and any search algorithms in any software of websites I use.

Scott Lackey said...

I wouldn't put Last as a makeup name. It could easily lead to confusion. Neither would I put unknown or LNU.

Elizabeth Handler said...

I can't remember where I got the idea / advice, but in Family Tree Maker, I use for a wife's last name if I know her husband's last name but not her maiden name. I have a couple of for first names. I like seeing this last name in my list of names because it helps me know what family she is from.

Nathan Murphy said...

The Family Tree Curriculum is a guide created by volunteers at the Family History Library. I don't think it has official endorsement from FamilySearch.

Genbook said...

Although, since I started doing research many years ago, it still seems strange and grinds my gears a bit when I see overseas names in various sources [i.e Johannes Schmidt, wife Mrs. Johannes Schmidt] when it is patently ridiculous that Germans in the 1500's used English naming customs [that is, Mr and Mrs] Not fatal I know, but it does seems weird to me. I use [?] is my desktop program as my own convention.

John McCall said...

In Rootsmagic I use a place holder for unknown first names [-?-] and for last names [--?--] followed by husband's first and/or last name if known. This places them at the top of the alphabetical listing but quickly identifies individuals with missing names.

Bishop Joan said...

My own formula is to place a person's surname in CAPS, and their given name in upper and lower case; i.e. John SMITH. If I don't know a woman's maiden name I use her married name but type it in upper and lower case and put it in parentheses; Jane (Smith). Recently I viewed a tutorial on YouTube from Ancestry that said the five underlines for a missing name, either first or last, is the genealogical standard in the industry and facilitates computer searches for matches. I tried the five underlines in my tree but still prefer my own method as described above and don't feel it has slowed down finding new information or matches for my tree.

DanniDoodle said...

There is a document I found online by Judith Schaefer Phelps dated 21 Sep 2010 entitled Getting It Right: Data Entry Standards for Genealogists. (http://www.columbinegenealogy.com/pdfs/Getting%20It%20Right.pdf)
In it Ms. Phelps states that if a name (maiden or given) is unknown, leave the field blank. She also states "Enter all names in mixed-case letters...."

Susan said...

Here is a Knowledge Article from FamilySearch on the subject - it is the same as the content on the Leland Moon training:

KA 80359 - Entering Names in Family Tree

Sometimes you need to perform ordinances for someone whose name is not known.

If you cannot find the name of a person but still want to have temple ordinances performed, enter the information below into the Name field:

· If you do not know the name of a mother, please check the following in order for the name to qualify:
o If the first and last name of a wife are unknown, enter Mrs. in Title field and the name of the husband in the First and Last Name fields.
o If the first name of the wife is known but the maiden name is unknown, enter Mrs. in the Title field and the first name of the wife the First Names field and the last name of the husband in the Last Name field.
o If the first name of the wife is unknown but her maiden name is known, enter only her maiden name as the last name. Do not enter a first name. Do not enter Miss. She is uniquely identified by the relationship.
· For an individual with an unknown name or a child who died without receiving a name, enter only the last name of the father or family name into the surname field. Do not enter a first name. Do not enter Mr., Miss, son, or daughter. Be sure the gender is correctly entered as male or female.

gerryruth said...

I like my system for an unknown maiden name. Jane ?Maiden? Strunk. ? Maiden? Is listed with the given names and I use the husband's last name. It makes it easier to find them. Otherwise I would have 150 Mary (blank, lnu, ?? Etc.

gerryruth said...

I like my system for an unknown maiden name. Jane ?Maiden? Strunk. ? Maiden? Is listed with the given names and I use the husband's last name. It makes it easier to find them. Otherwise I would have 150 Mary (blank, lnu, ?? Etc.

gerryruth said...

I like my system for an unknown maiden name. Jane ?Maiden? Strunk. ? Maiden? Is listed with the given names and I use the husband's last name. It makes it easier to find them. Otherwise I would have 150 Mary (blank, lnu, ?? Etc.

Nathan Murphy said...

Susan, the knowledge article below has completely different rules for "Entering names in Family Tree." For example, there is not a rule to add "Mrs." as a title to a woman whose maiden name is unknown. In the Knowledge Article I've cited, it actually tells you never to enter "Mrs." or "Miss."

An official user's guide has yet to be written for Family Tree. People often try to use these Knowledge Articles as a substitute, but we've just demonstrated two articles present conflicting statements.

https://familysearch.org/ask/salesforce/viewArticle?urlname=Entering-names-on-Family-Tree&lang=en

Entering names in Family Tree

Issues Addressed
What names are acceptable for Family Tree?
What names should I avoid entering in Family Tree?
Can I use special characters in the name fields?
Solution

Here are some general rules for name entry in Family Tree:
Add each part of the name in the appropriate field.
Do not use the word "or" between names.
Do not use invalid punctuation or invalid characters, such as quotation marks or parentheses, for nicknames. You can enter one name as the first name in the Vital Information section and the other as an alternate name in the Other Information section on the Person (details) page.
Do not use underscores or underlines.
Do not combine name parts in a field except for first and middle name in the First Name field.
Periods indicate that letters are abbreviations for the full name. Use an abbreviation only if you cannot find the name.
Do not separate names with slashes, such as /Smith/.
Do not add a title without a first name.
Do not enter a title in any field but the Title field, regardless of language. For clarity, spell out titles if possible.
Do not enter a suffix (like Sr., Jr., or III) in any field except the Suffix field.
Use the maiden or birth name of a female for her last name for a female. Do not use her married name. If you only know her first name, leave the last name blank.
Preferably, add titles as an alternate name. Do not add the title in the Vital Information section.
See Ancestor changed name during lifetime (67265) and Names in Vital Information and Other Information in Family Tree (71954).

Note: If one of the names below is actually a first name or last name of an individual, you can use it.

Words, characters, and names you should not use in Family Tree are below:

(List is sorted alphabetically)
""
.
..
...
/
( )
(baby)
(boy)
(child)
(female)
(infant)
(male)
(twin)
(twins)
(unknown)
(unnamed)
(wife)
무명
미상
사산한
아버지
어머니
익명의
자녀 없음
不明
不清楚
不知道
不詳
지명하지 않다
匿名
名前がない
子供がいない
未具名
死産
死胎
母親
沒有名字
無名
無子女
父親
anan her nom inconnu
ancestor his none
ancestors husband not
anon infant not known
anon. information not named
anónim inft other
anônim. inft. padre
anónimo kinderlos pai
anônimo listed père
anonym live record
anonymous living records
baby ma. sans
body madre sem filhos
born mãe sem nome
brother male sin hijos
death
man sin nomb
data
married sin nombre
dead
men sister
deadborn
mère
son
deceased
misc
still born
desc.
miss or mrs
stillborn
desconhecido
mort ne
tot
desconocido
mort-né
twin
died
mother
twins
dodfodt
muerto
unbek
don't
mutter
unbekannt
daughter
nacido
unborn
Duke
name
unk
enfant
natimorto
unknown
entry
niece, nephew
unnamed
father
never
un-named
female
nicht bekannt
vater
flickebarn
nicht benannt
wife
geboren
no
woman
girl no issue
women
no name
yes

Nathan Murphy said...

Compare FamilySearch Knowledge Article "Entering names in Family Tree" https://familysearch.org/ask/salesforce/viewArticle?urlname=Entering-names-on-Family-Tree&lang=en

A notable difference is that "miss and mrs" are categorized as "Words, characters, and names you should not use in Family Tree."

People will probably continue to use these conflicting knowledge articles as a sort of manual until an official Family Tree User's Guide is written.

Issues Addressed
What names are acceptable for Family Tree?
What names should I avoid entering in Family Tree?
Can I use special characters in the name fields?
Solution

Here are some general rules for name entry in Family Tree:
Add each part of the name in the appropriate field.
Do not use the word "or" between names.
Do not use invalid punctuation or invalid characters, such as quotation marks or parentheses, for nicknames. You can enter one name as the first name in the Vital Information section and the other as an alternate name in the Other Information section on the Person (details) page.
Do not use underscores or underlines.
Do not combine name parts in a field except for first and middle name in the First Name field.
Periods indicate that letters are abbreviations for the full name. Use an abbreviation only if you cannot find the name.
Do not separate names with slashes, such as /Smith/.
Do not add a title without a first name.
Do not enter a title in any field but the Title field, regardless of language. For clarity, spell out titles if possible.
Do not enter a suffix (like Sr., Jr., or III) in any field except the Suffix field.
Use the maiden or birth name of a female for her last name for a female. Do not use her married name. If you only know her first name, leave the last name blank.
Preferably, add titles as an alternate name. Do not add the title in the Vital Information section.
See Ancestor changed name during lifetime (67265) and Names in Vital Information and Other Information in Family Tree (71954).

Note: If one of the names below is actually a first name or last name of an individual, you can use it.

Words, characters, and names you should not use in Family Tree are below:

(List is sorted alphabetically)
""
.
..
...
/
( )
(baby)
(boy)
(child)
(female)
(infant)
(male)
(twin)
(twins)
(unknown)
(unnamed)
(wife)
무명
미상
사산한
아버지
어머니
익명의
자녀 없음
不明
不清楚
不知道
不詳
지명하지 않다
匿名
名前がない
子供がいない
未具名
死産
死胎
母親
沒有名字
無名
無子女
父親
anan her nom inconnu
ancestor his none
ancestors husband not
anon infant not known
anon. information not named
anónim inft other
anônim. inft. padre
anónimo kinderlos pai
anônimo listed père
anonym live record
anonymous living records
baby ma. sans
body madre sem filhos
born mãe sem nome
brother male sin hijos
death
man sin nomb
data
married sin nombre
dead
men sister
deadborn
mère
son
deceased
misc
still born
desc.
miss or mrs
stillborn
desconhecido
mort ne
tot
desconocido
mort-né
twin
died
mother
twins
dodfodt
muerto
unbek
don't
mutter
unbekannt
daughter
nacido
unborn
Duke
name
unk
enfant
natimorto
unknown
entry
niece, nephew
unnamed
father
never
un-named
female
nicht bekannt
vater
flickebarn
nicht benannt
wife
geboren
no
woman
girl no issue
women
no name
yes

Nathan Murphy said...

Compare Knowledge Article "Entering names in Family Tree." https://familysearch.org/ask/salesforce/viewArticle?urlname=Entering-names-on-Family-Tree&lang=en A notable difference is "miss or mrs" are in the section "Words, characters, and names you should not use in Family Tree."

I'm guessing people will probably continue to use conflicting Knowledge Articles as a sort of manual to FamilySearch and it's products like Family Tree until an official User's Guide is published.

Issues Addressed
What names are acceptable for Family Tree?
What names should I avoid entering in Family Tree?
Can I use special characters in the name fields?
Solution

Here are some general rules for name entry in Family Tree:
Add each part of the name in the appropriate field.
Do not use the word "or" between names.
Do not use invalid punctuation or invalid characters, such as quotation marks or parentheses, for nicknames. You can enter one name as the first name in the Vital Information section and the other as an alternate name in the Other Information section on the Person (details) page.
Do not use underscores or underlines.
Do not combine name parts in a field except for first and middle name in the First Name field.
Periods indicate that letters are abbreviations for the full name. Use an abbreviation only if you cannot find the name.
Do not separate names with slashes, such as /Smith/.
Do not add a title without a first name.
Do not enter a title in any field but the Title field, regardless of language. For clarity, spell out titles if possible.
Do not enter a suffix (like Sr., Jr., or III) in any field except the Suffix field.
Use the maiden or birth name of a female for her last name for a female. Do not use her married name. If you only know her first name, leave the last name blank.
Preferably, add titles as an alternate name. Do not add the title in the Vital Information section.
See Ancestor changed name during lifetime (67265) and Names in Vital Information and Other Information in Family Tree (71954).

Note: If one of the names below is actually a first name or last name of an individual, you can use it.

Words, characters, and names you should not use in Family Tree are below:

(List is sorted alphabetically)
""
.
..
...
/
( )
(baby)
(boy)
(child)
(female)
(infant)
(male)
(twin)
(twins)
(unknown)
(unnamed)
(wife)
무명
미상
사산한
아버지
어머니
익명의
자녀 없음
不明
不清楚
不知道
不詳
지명하지 않다
匿名
名前がない
子供がいない
未具名
死産
死胎
母親
沒有名字
無名
無子女
父親
anan her nom inconnu
ancestor his none
ancestors husband not
anon infant not known
anon. information not named
anónim inft other
anônim. inft. padre
anónimo kinderlos pai
anônimo listed père
anonym live record
anonymous living records
baby ma. sans
body madre sem filhos
born mãe sem nome
brother male sin hijos
death
man sin nomb
data
married sin nombre
dead
men sister
deadborn
mère
son
deceased
misc
still born
desc.
miss or mrs
stillborn
desconhecido
mort ne
tot
desconocido
mort-né
twin
died
mother
twins
dodfodt
muerto
unbek
don't
mutter
unbekannt
daughter
nacido
unborn
Duke
name
unk
enfant
natimorto
unknown
entry
niece, nephew
unnamed
father
never
un-named
female
nicht bekannt
vater
flickebarn
nicht benannt
wife
geboren
no
woman
girl no issue
women
no name
yes