Thursday, July 30, 2009

Standardizing names in family trees

My post Are there standards for names in family trees? yesterday garnered a number of very helpful responses - thank you to all who took the time to provide their practices.

I have two major articles for readers to consider:

1) Rebecca, in a comment to my post, provided a link to the Genealogical Standards page on the International Institute of Jewish Genealogy webpage with links to an article by Gary Mokotoff, who wrote an article in AVOYTANU (XXIV, 3 (Fall, 2008), pp. 3-6) titled A Proposed Standard for Names, Dates and Places in A Genealogical Database. Section 1 of this article proposes standards for Names of persons that are logical and consistent.

2) Russ Worthington posted Data Base Clean Up - How to handle Names on the Family Tree Maker User blog yesterday. Russ is one of the real gurus on using Family Tree Maker and I greatly respect his opinions. He took each paragraph of my post and wrote his practices and comments. Some of Russ's practices differ from Gary Mokotoff's proposed standards. Russ also suggests checking the Family Tree Make Knowledge Base which address some of these questions.

I tried to use ? and ???? in FTM 16 and it creates a data entry error. What about in Legacy and RootsMagic? And in Ancestry family trees?

I really like Russ's idea of using five underscores (e.g., "_____" ) for an unknown name. It does make them stand out in reports. however, it is an illegal character in the Name field in Family Tree Maker 16. Using it would put all of the females with unknown surnames in one place in the index - right now I have "loose" women all over the place since a "Mary A." shows up as "A., Mary" in the index! I'm wondering if the underscore is an allowable character in other software programs like FTM 2009, Legacy, RootsMagic and Ancestry trees - I don't want to do this again!

Reader Barbara suggested adding using "Mary (____) w/o John Smith" in the name field to indicate that Mary with an unknown maiden surname is the wife of John Smith. This is similar to what I've done in some cases for widows who marry again. I guess for widows who marry again something along the lines of "Mary (_____) widow of Bert Jones, wife of John Smith" would work too.

Reader Miz J pointed out that doesn't accept punctuation or parentheses in their family trees. These are characters that also create an error notice in FTM 16. Miz J also suggested using something like "Albert aka Bert Smith" in the name field in FTM 16 to avoid an error notice in FTM 16 and Ancestry. However, both "AKA" and "aka" create a data entry error because of capitalization), but "Aka" does not. Again, is this allowable in FTM 2009, Legacy and RootsMagic?

Reader David suggested to put "widow of Bert Jones" in the Suffix field. However, Russ pointed out that there is no suffix field in Family Tree Maker (all versions) so that won't work for me either. But it's a great thought!

Readers swe2sea, Miz J and GrannyPam said to just use the names you know and no others. If Mary [last name unknown] married John Smith and then Bert Jones, you can enter the two marriages and they will show up in reports. That would certainly eliminate a lot of spurious entries in my database!

I've poked around in FTM 16 and cannot figure out how to make an AKA show up in a genealogy report or family group sheet. I'm sure it can be done, but I can't figure it out myself, it seems.

Maybe one of the ASCII characters not associated with punctuation could be used for an unknown name. Actually, Fnu or Lnu would do, wouldn't they? No data entry error, all Lnus would be in one place in the index, etc. But I would have to learn the keystroke combination for the character, and cannot figure out how I did it before!

I'm open to other suggestions!


Susan Park said...

I use Legacy now. There is a place to enter alternate names. The icon looks like three little heads facing to the left. I've never used it.

As for unknown names, I started using [_______] (bracket, 7 underscores, bracket) back when I used FTM 16. I use if for missing last names and for missing first names too. They all index together. When Legacy flags the unexpected characters it gives you an option to exclude them from the Potential Problems list. I don't remember if FTM 16 did that or not.

Anonymous said...

In legacy I generally leave the name blank if i do not know the name or the surname (maiden name) as the case maybe. The ? mark shows up as an illegal character. While taking out a report legacy inserts a blank space with an underscore to indicate a name is wanted.

As far as AKA is concerned. Legacy has an AKA box and a graphical icon, which changes colour if an AKA is added. In the report after the Main profile name is printed it say something like this John D'Souza was also know as Johnny Dee"

Anonymous said...

In legacy you don't have to put any name if you don't have a name. The report will be something like this. George ________ married _______ Hunter on 29 July 1948, etc, and they had the following children. Or George Jungle married Mary _____ daughter or Unknown and Unknown etc. Its a good enough report till you actually find the correct names and update

Cousin Russ said...

Randy - The AKA field is presented on the Individuals page as a FACT, which it is for Family Tree Maker.

It is my understanding, and I may be wrong, but the AKA field is not part of a "standard" Genealogy Report. From what I can tell, Version 16, and earlier, will not present the AKA field in a Genealogy Report. I verified that I had selected All FACTS, and AKA, along with other FACTs are not included in the report.

Eileen said...

In FTM 2009, the FACT is known as "Also Known As". To show in any chart or report, select the Items to Include icon. In the popup window there is a button on the lower left called Name Options. Click on that. Show AKA is one of your choices. The report then shows the AKA in quotes next to the name. For example: William Noble "Bill"

AmericanInParis said...

Actually, there IS a suffix field, at least in FTM 2009:

1. Go to the Name Fact for which you want to put a suffix.

2. Click in the field and a pencil icon will appear to the right.

3. Click on the pencil and an Edit Name window will pop up, with Given Names, Surname and Suffix fields.

AmericanInParis said...

Also, if you like, I can send you a list of ASCII Alt+Num combinations. Holding down the Alt key, then using the Num pad on the right of the keyboard, you can enter a four-digit number to get symbols such as letters with diacritical marks, the ¶ sign and the § symbol. (Not sure if those two will show up on a web page...)

Peter (Sparshott) McNulty said...

This used to work in Ver 16 but although I have tried it out in 2014 I do not know the full ramifications. By entering a no-break space between the two name parts the full name is displayed and is in the correct place in the name list. A no-break space is created with Alt+0161. That is, hold down the alt key and then enter the 4 digits, without the plus sign, on the numeric keypad (switch off num lock first).

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