Source Naming Conventions (Capitalization) [16 April 2009]
I really like the idea of having our Naming conventions all in one place!
If you don't mind, I'm copying over some text from the Source portal talk about Source naming conventions. I haven't seen discussion about it on WeRelate yet.
Well, one thought comes to mind from a purely programming point of view. Since a great majority of our sources were gathered from FHLC, I'm going to guess that sticking to their capitalization convention would be handy. Even when Dallan renames the pages in the future (to conform to Author.Title format), it would probably still be in sentence case. Also, does WeRelate want to conform to a more international standard, since sentence case is common in most other countries?--Jennifer (JBS66) 07:58, 15 February 2009 (EST)
The standard for capitalizing sources is to capitalize all words except "stop" words (words like the, an, of, etc.). The reason for this is so that the "Add Source" screen can automatically capitalize titles correctly, so that we avoid people creating sources that are identical to existing sources except for capitalization differences. Many of the existing sources don't follow this rule; they will be renamed later this year when the source review project is complete.--Dallan 11:08, 16 February 2009 (EST)
I'm wondering if these "stop" words are going to include foreign language versions of these articles. I've been working with the Dutch sources, and words like van or de should equally not be capitalized.--Jennifer (JBS66) 13:54, 11 April 2009 (EDT)
Another attempt at a GEDCOM upload on the sandbox showed me another reason why I will never be doing updating by GEDCOM upload: because I can't possibly match any of my sources referring to censuses.
Perhaps in my naivete I got started on a bad system. But to me all of the 1880 US census is one source. (I know in WW1 they handled servicemen differently and 1850/1860 they had slave schedules, so perhaps those should be considered separate and distinct. But just single distinct items each.) The census of a given year is sponsored by one agency and collects one set of data. The county and state are items used to locate the desired page, and should be treated like a page number, a locater within a source, not as a separate source title??
In their own software at home, does everybody make a different source for each county, within the same census? Because if they don't, a source like "1880 US Census" can't possibly be matched to the WeRelate census sources when they upload their GEDCOM, because it may be used in their GEDCOM for multiple different counties and states.
I can't resist stating again that I also dislike putting the author's name in the title. It is non-intuitive. Notice that none of the Titles coming in from FHL are arranged this way. So recently I complained that in trying to match sources during a sandbox GEDCOM upload, that no authors were displayed. Dallan's response was that the author was supposed to be in the title. But in the example I had, that wasn't true of a single existing title of the couple of pages of WeRelate sources I was given a choice of. Since that is still so, there may still be time to avoid this mistake?
It is a bad idea because:
--Jrich 19:19, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
My question loosely relates to one of Jrich's points above - the title field. In sources that are geographic in nature, why are we putting the full place name in the title field? One example is Source:United States, Alabama, Greene. 1850 U.S. Census Population Schedule. Is this being done automatically from Add Source, or is this user confusion? My understanding is that this field is just the source's title, otherwise, as Jrich said, searches could get really muddied.--Jennifer (JBS66) 11:10, 14 April 2009 (EDT)
Amelia - sorry for the confusion, but this isn't what I meant. I understand the necessity of having the place in the page title. What I'm speaking of is the title field (comes after Authors), which does not necessarily need to be identical to the page title. From a programming standpoint, it doesn't make sense to me to include combined info. in any field (ie. place and document title). For the purposes you are speaking of (such as sorting), the page title could serve this purpose. The title field, however, should solely be the title of the document.--Jennifer (JBS66) 07:24, 15 April 2009 (EDT)
Thanks, Jillaine, for pointing out my mistake. I think you are right, and I may even have to rethink my whole attitude about page titles versus source title. I will try to go find the discussion you refer to.
Leaving still, some dissatisfaction with searching of sources because too many results get returned, I was wondering if some of the suggestions might still be useful: adding more types of searches, like exact phrase, all keywords, etc., and making the result list easier to work with when there are lots of entries.
--Jrich 08:55, 16 April 2009 (EDT)
Person Page Naming Conventions [13 April 2009]
I have a challenge and could use some advice. I have a set of German ancestors. The naming convention for them at that period of time was frequently:
When the emigrated to the States, they dropped the first name (Johann or Anna) and subsequent records identify them as [Something] Surname.
In my genealogy software, I use the formal name found on their birth record, which was usually:
But upon uploading the GEDCOM, WeRelate treats the Johann/Anna as a first name both for the Name field as well as the Page title. This makes searching a major drag because I end up with a whole slew of "Johann" Surnames that actually mean nothing and make searching very difficult. It's also misleading on the person and family pages, because even in Germany they usually went by their "middle" name when they had a Johann-[Something] combo name.
How would YOU deal with this once the file is uploaded?
-- jillaine 18:00, 13 April 2009 (EDT)
Might be a good use of the alternate name type "Birth Name". Set up the page as George Schneider, but enter a Birth name of Johan Georg Schneider, for example. Just a thought.
Actually, in many of those families, there is a generation where the name tended to get Americanized, i.e., Schneider to Snyder. That might be handled similarly so that the generation where it changed can show some connection to the old name of the generation before and also to the new name of the generation after?
--Jrich 18:32, 13 April 2009 (EDT)
birth name vs primary name [27 February 2010]
Herein lies the issue! If the primary name is defined as the birth name, what is the birth name? The primary name, therefore, can easily be something OTHER than the birth name (or even the married name for that matter).--Jrm03063 17:18, 14 February 2009 (EST)
Here's an example of how I would use the birth name and primary name: My great-great-grandmother was christened Anna Sophia Weand. Her tombstone reads Annie Sophia Hauck. Every other reference to her, including her marriage, her civil war widow pension file, the 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900 censuses, and other misc. sources refer to her as "Sophia". I've chosen to make "Sophia Weand" her primary name and "Anna Sophia Weand" her birth name.
Another example from my genealogy would be a certain guy wikipedia refers to as "Bill Clinton". In my files his primary name is "William Jefferson Clinton" not "Bill Clinton" and his birth name is recorded as "William Jefferson Blythe". And for genealogical purposes his wife will always be entered in my files as "Hillary Diane Rodham" even if wikipedia prefers to refer to her as "Hillary Rodham Clinton".--Lauren 19:29, 14 February 2009 (EST)
And Jrich mentioned over at the Watercooler another use for birth name: used for what's on the original birth certificate of adopted folks. jillaine 21:13, 14 February 2009 (EST)
My theory is that the primary name ought to be the name under which records on that person would generally be found. This is a genealogy site, after all. Bill Clinton is legally William Clinton, not William Blythe. Since stage names are generally stage names, they wouldn't meet that standard. In cases like Clinton's, the primary name is different than the birth name, and that ought to be recognized. Women's maiden names don't entirely fit into that standard, but again, this being a genealogy site, we can't have women referred to using their married names. It makes us look like newbies who don't know any better.--Amelia 11:48, 15 February 2009 (EST)
I think that Amelia's got the right idea on the primary name - but I don't think we should be afraid to follow that through to the present day. To use the Cary Grant analogy again, by this standard his stage name SHOULD be his primary name. There is nothing to prevent adding his birth name and tagging it as such. As I keep saying, if the appearance of a birth/maiden name in the originating family is something we really want, it seems like Dallan could extract birth-type names, in preference to the "primary" name, for that purpose (or both with one of them in parens or some such).
Stage names, pen names, names containing ranks of nobility, etc., etc. - any of these can be the name by which someone is "primarily" known. People won't think we don't know what we're doing if we have the different forms and have them appropriately labeled.
On the separate, but related, question of the page name - I still prefer that the page name be the same as the preferred name - but would probably be just as happy with the convention as currently implemented. Nobility and people living prior to modern naming conventions may use the English wikipedia name or name as it appears somewhere in wikipedia.--Jrm03063 16:13, 15 February 2009 (EST)
I agree with Amelia -- a person's "primary name" is the name under which genealogical records about them would most-likely be found. It seems like following this rule makes it easier for someone who found records about a person named X to search WeRelate for X and check the results. A woman's primary name is her maiden name; this seems ingrained in most genealogists. For most people, the primary name is the name they were born with. Birth name is available for exceptions like adoptions. So if Cary Grant appears on his marriage certificate, census records, etc., then we should list Cary Grant as his primary name. But I think we're talking about exceptional cases; the general rule should be that the primary name should agree with the birth name.
Regarding how to title Person pages, at some point I'd like to rename the page automatically when the primary name changes, or at least ask the user if the page should be renamed when they change the primary name. In order to do this, we would need to have a simple rule for how to title a page, like: the page title agrees with the primary name for people born after 1500; page titles for people born before 1500 will not be renamed automatically. If we use this rule, then the page title for Bill Clinton would be William Clinton and the page title for Mary Lincoln would be Mary Todd. For medieval people, we have the rule that the page title should follow the Wikipedia title. I could go either way on whether the page title for a medieval person with a maiden name should follow the Wikipedia title or if there should be an exception in this case to use the maiden name in the title.
I'm not sure if we ever use the label "Primary name" in the system. If you add an alternate name to someone, we label the primary name as "Preferred name". I'm happy to change this label to "Primary name" or something that more-clearly relays our intent. And we'll need to clarify the help pages.--Dallan 11:08, 16 February 2009 (EST)
Perhaps skimming the wikipedia guide for person naming would help folks see that there is a general method at least - see it at: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people).
To again describe why I've done the things I've done, I'm working through the medieval space in a couple of different ways. One way, is simply to appropriately merge and source the people who already exist for werelate person and family pages. Another way, is to CREATE additional people who are named in wikipedia but who do not, seemingly, yet appear on werelate. If wikipedia has parent pages for a person, named "A" and "B" respectively, then I directly create a parent page named "A" + "and" + "B". I then go create the page, and I immediately create the people using the strings "A" and "B" (along with the appropriate wikipedia source references). If I'm lucky, one or both of the people were already created as a side effect of work I did elsewhere. Even if I'm not lucky, a search for duplicates on the newly created pages will often yield results that I would not easily find using the existing tools.
It's not that I LIKE these names, I just don't want to spend time on the question when there's already a decision available on wikipedia.
BTW, if I use the "proper" page creation steps, I have to try to put in strings like "Fred II, Earl of Bedrock". This gets turned into "Fred Unknown (847)", or something similarly helpful, which I then have to immediately redirect. I'm not suggesting that the existing tools be tuned to deal with irrational/antiquated naming systems, but I do want to explain why they really aren't as helpful in the older spaces. Back there, it's just a lot simpler to use the wikipedia name and move on.--Jrm03063 17:21, 19 February 2009 (EST)
I have a problem with this fixation on wikipedia and hence, wikipedia is far down my list of reasons why werelate.org should do something or not. Wikipedia is a very valuable site, but has a different purpose. They title a page so people can find it and recognize it, probably as the result of an isolated search. They can name their pages how they want, and it doesn't matter to WeRelate since it can be linked to regardless. So WeRelate should adopt its own conventions.
Werelate is about connections. Pages are titled following a convention that makes sense when looking at how people relate (in fact people are often distinguished from others of the same name solely by how they relate). While for wikipedia, the Personal History is essentially the primary purpose of their pages, for werelate.org, the people and dates on the left margin, and the ability to follow those links is just as important.
WeRelate is a genealogy website. It should be that a person familiar with genealogy can come to werelate and find somebody. I think it is great to link the Personal History to wikipedia. But werelate must reserve the right to name things differently when it makes sense according to its different purpose, i.e., to show how that person fits in their family and relates to their spouses, siblings and children. I do not want to see Mary Lincoln as a child in the middle of the Todd family or Cary Grant in the middle of the Leach family.
Since the purpose is collaboration, the naming of pages should involve as little individual judgment as possible, since as we all know, one individual's judgment is another person's anathema. I talk about Rev. Solomon Reed of Petersham when I want to distinguish him from his father Rev. Solomon Reed of Framingham? Titicut? (multiple choices here, which takes precedence?), but is that a distinction that makes sense to a researcher of Solomon's wife Susanna Willard? So, if the conventions can be followed, they should be. An exception was made for people with one names. As few exceptions as possible should be tolerated.
If we are going to embellish titles, I think it would make sense to use birth and death years. This seems to be slight less subject to personal opinion, and is used by many genealogical books to make their index more useful when it lists references to umpteen John Smiths, for example. --Jrich 09:50, 20 February 2009 (EST)
To give this debate a more concrete form, I suggest that folks search the werelate "Person" space, with a keyword of "wikipedia-notice". Scan the list and suggest which pages are wrong - how and why.--Jrm03063 11:42, 20 February 2009 (EST)
Delijim, at the very least you will need to carefully define most commonly accepted spelling, and at the worse, I think your addition may be a bad rule, at least in some cases.
I think most commonly accepted spelling tends to be based on which particular sources you rely on, and few people have access to all the sources to make an absolute judgment about which spelling is the most common. So with several people, each with limited horizons, each may be justified in thinking their spelling is the correct one. There have been myriad discussions about the flakiness of colonial spelling, and any reference to this or that colonial source is not particularly authoritative. Finally, I think an understanding that one spelling is better than the rest is likely to lead to arguments that don't advance the genealogy, whereas an attitude that these are all alternatives and one just happens to have been entered first, is a less challenging position.
I think a better answer is to 1) be flexible about spellings as long as it is clear the page represents the same person, 2) make sure Surname pages reflect common spelling variations, 3) add alternate names so that other researchers who have selected different spellings still get directed to this page. --Jrich 09:45, 26 February 2010 (EST)
Msg for Solveig [14 February 2009]
I see that you edited the Family Page sub-section of this page. You included instructions for how to make a Family page, but this page is about Naming Conventions for pages. Do you mind if I take your instructions out? -- jillaine 21:22, 14 February 2009 (EST)
That's fine.--Dallan 11:08, 16 February 2009 (EST)
Suggestion - Examples [21 February 2009]
I would like to suggest on this page we have an area that has Source examples. Sometimes we agree to a example, but it is in the conversation. I sometimes have a hard time re-finding the agreed to example when I look for it, i.e. it gets lost in all the text.
Debbie Freeman --DFree 09:58, 15 February 2009 (EST)
Question [27 February 2010]
Would Muhammed Ali be the preferred name and Cassius Clay the birth name? Or would Cassius Clay be the preferred name and Muhammed Ali the religious name? Probably would be good to list a few of these kind of examples. --Jrich 00:35, 16 February 2009 (EST)
I think we should tell people that in general they should follow the naming rules. So if we go with primary name is birth name as a general rule, then his primary name would be Cassius Clay. In cases like this where a person is listed under multiple names in genealogical records, I hope we can generally leave it up to the people who have Muhammed/Cassius in their family tree to decide which name to use as the primary name.--Dallan 11:28, 16 February 2009 (EST)
I would think that the name at birth would in almost all cases be the primary name. Since he changed his name as an adult, it should be an alternate name... just my $.02.--Delijim 10:08, 26 February 2010 (EST)
Then you have the question of names of popular actors and musicians: Is the actress's primary name Marilyn Monroe, Norma Jeane Mortenson (birth name), or Norma Jeane Baker (baptismal name)? Is the singer's primary name Sir Tom Jones or Thomas Jones Woodward (birth name)? Is the primary name of the movie star born as Archibald Alexander Leach identified by his screen name Cary Grant or his birth name? Is the singer's primary name Engelbert Humperdinck or by his birth name, Arnold George Dorsey? I see this same topic of exceptions for notable people was discussed earlier, but not sure concensus was reached. --BobC 00:31, 27 February 2010 (EST)
I can't think of cases when the primary name wouldn't be the birth name. I believe actors' stage names should be listed as alternate names.--Dallan 20:02, 27 February 2010 (EST)
Unknown name [27 April 2011]
Why would you leave unknown given name blank instead of "Unknown". It seems like the display on Family pages, etc would look funny to see "Jones and Sally Smith" instead of "Unknown Jones and Sally Smith". --Jrich 21:00, 27 April 2011 (EDT)
Scandinavia = Denmark, Norway and Sweden
In Norse custom patronyms and matronyms were formed by using the ending -son (later -søn and -sen in Danish and Norwegian) to indicate "son of", and -dóttir (Icelandic -dóttir, Swedish and Norwegian -dotter, Danish and Norwegian -datter) for "daughter of". This name was generally used as a last name although a third name, a name based on location or personal characteristic was often added to differentiate people and could eventually develop into a kind of family name. Some Early Modern examples of the latter practice, where the patronymic was placed after the given name and was followed by the surname, are Norwegian Peder Claussøn Friis, the son of Nicolas Thorolfsen Friis (Claus in Claussøn being short for Nicolas) and Danish Thomas Hansen Kingo, the son of Hans Thomsen Kingo.
Eventually, most Nordic countries replaced or complemented this system with the prevailing "international" standard of inherited family names. In Norway, for example, the parliament passed a family name act in 1923, citing the rising population and the need to avoid the confusion of new last names in every generation. The law does allow a person to retain a patronymic as a middle name in addition to the surname, as was common in Early Modern times; this is not a common practice, but does occur, a modern example being Audhild Gregoriusdotter Rotevatn). In Iceland, however, patronymics are still used as last names and this is in fact compulsory by law, with a handful of exceptions.
Hereditary last names were mandatory:
The Norwegian Naming System
(This is a copy of an article by Johan I. Borgos, slightly adapted.)
The Norwegian naming patterns have changed through history. There are also regional differences. This text will try to explain the historical changes, and mostly with regard to the basic population.
It is convenient to look upon the first name as the real name. This was given to the child when it was christened. Way back in history only one 'first name' was the rule, but already before 1800 one can find many persons with two such names. Later on a child could be given three or even four 'first names', but only one of them was in use, perhaps two. Hyphenating two 'first names' is a newer custom.
The earlier use of 'last names' often confuses the genealogist of today, but was quite logical. Almost every person had a patronymic or father-name. If a man named Anders (first name) got a son called Jon, then the boy would be called Jon Anderssen, that is: Jon, the son of Anders. In some dialects the patronymic could be Andersson or Anderssøn, but the meaning is the same.
If Anders had a daughter called Anne, she would be called Anne Andersdatter, that is: Anne, the daughter of Anders. The spoken form, however, was more like Anne Anderste or Anderstet. Today Norwegian genealogists often use Andersdtr as an abbreviated form. The women used their patronymic all the life, married or not, but this custom began to change around 1900 or a little earlier.
Genealogists should use the patronymic as a clue for further search. If you find an ancestor named Ingeborg Nilsdtr, then you know for certain that her fathers first name was Nils. This helps to narrow the search. But of course it can be confusing to find a family where the fathers name is Anders Jonsen, the mothers name Ellen Hansdtr, and the children are named Jon Anderssen and Anne Andersdtr.
I should add that the patronymic could be dropped in the upper classes. In certain regions the patronymic was the only last name for most people, but as a rule one more 'last name' was added. They fall in two classes.
The most common pattern was adding the farm name, or 'address'. Let's use the example mentioned above. If Jon Anderssen settled on a farm called Bakken, he would be called Jon Anderssen Bakken, that is: Jon Anderssen, who lives at Bakken. If he moved to a farm called Vik, his full name would change to Jon Anderssen Vik.
Some families had a hereditary last name, a surname, often very old and in most cases of foreign origin. This was often the case in the cities or among high officials elsewhere in the country. If the family had a last name of this type, there was no need for a farm name. The hereditary names were seldom geographical names, as in the case of the farm names.
In the last decades of the 1800s a new pattern emerged, or rather two patterns. One was a radical change: A married woman could take her husband's patronymic. Anne Jonsen, that is: Anne, the son of Jon. Quite illogical! But the common people only copied the naming custom used by the richer people, they with the hereditary last names.
The other new pattern was this: The children got their father's last name instead of a real patronymic. But in a 'transition period' that lasted until 1923, one can find old and new patterns side by side, even inside families.
In 1923 it was ordered by law that each family should have a hereditary last name and only ONE last name. Some families took a patronymic, others a farm name, and of course the old hereditary names lived on. But the result was great amounts of Olsen, Hansen, Nilsen and names like that - old patronymics. Later on many last names of this type has been replaced by constructed names to avoid confusion.
It's not necessary to say that the fathers last name also became the family name. The women lost their last name. Today the wheel has turned again. The women as a rule keep their last names after marriage. Yes, even the old custom with a real patronymic can be seen. Anne Andersdatter lives again!
Norwegian Names on WeRelate
For people with a three-part name, that is: most Norwegians born before 1900, excluding some northern Norway fishing families, travellers, and immigrant families with hereditary surnames, we should write the names:
If you only have information giving a first name and patronymic:
Swedish Naming Practices [28 November 2011]
Most people used patronymics, but they could also have additional names. See Hans Högman's overview.
The Names act from 1901 made hereditary last names mandatory, abolishing the patronymic system.
Types of additional or alternative names:
Danish Naming Practices [5 December 2011]
Quoting Diana Gale Mathiesen: "Surnames became mandatory in Denmark in 1526, but only for the nobility. In 1771, surnames became mandatory in Slesvig-Holsten, DK. In 1828, surnames became mandatory throughout Denmark, but the law was largely ignored. Then, in 1856, the legal mandate to use a surname was strengthened, forcing the holdouts to give in and finally adopt a surname, making Danes among the last in Europe to adopt surnames, though not the very last. Surnames were not commonly used in Sweden until ca. 1900 or in Norway until 1923, and they are still not commonly used in Iceland."
"There is, lastly, the question of how to enter patronyms in your genealogy software. In my opinion, the patronym should be treated as a middle (given) name, not a surname. For those individuals who have only a patronym and no surname, the best course, in my opinion, is to leave the surname field blank, just as I believe that is the best course to take when the surname is simply unknown. [Please, never put the husband's surname in the wife's surname field just because you don't know the wife's maiden name!]
One advantage to not putting the patronym in the surname field is apparent when viewing an alphabetized index of your database because all those without surnames will be grouped together, in alphabetical order by their call names. If you put the patronym in the surname field, not only will these individuals be scattered throughout the index, it will not be apparent for whom the name is a patronym and for whom it is a surname, not unless you consistently enter patronyms in Initial Caps and surnames in ALL-CAPS, which is at least a viable alternative and one I strongly recommend if you insist on putting the patronym in the surname field."
I agree that an empty field is the best/correct option when there is no surname. Paragraph on other possibilities removed.--Annema 07:25, 5 December 2011 (EST)
For the Dutch pages on WeRelate, the standard when a surname is unknown is to enter the patronymic name in the surname field. This form is how the majority of gedcoms are submitted as well. In the Netherlands, surnames were primarily adopted in 1811. For pre-1811 people who never took a surname, the patronymic name is put into the surname field. For people who were born without a surname but adopted one during their lifetime, the surname is entered into the surname field. I can speak from experience that working with a lot of Person Unknown pages quickly becomes confusing. --Jennifer (JBS66) 09:42, 5 December 2011 (EST)
Resources on Scandinavian Names and Patronymics