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Woman's maiden vs married names - citations

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Woman's maiden vs married names - citations

Postby phantomsteve » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:36 pm

I have been working on my tree for quite a while, but I had a thought today (I'm sure I should write that down somewhere, as it doesn't happen too often!)

When I have a married woman, then as is standard she is listed on my tree under her maiden name.

My query is simple... when recording details of the woman from, for example, a census after she was married, when I use the census as a citation for her name, should it be to her maiden name, or should I create an "AKA" for this.

Let's give an example.

Joan Able married John Baker in 1900. On the 1901 census, her name will be shown as "Joan Baker".

Do I use the 1901 census as a citation for NAME fact Joan Able, or should I create an AKA Joan Baker fact and cite the 1901 census against that fact?

So far, I've always used it as a citation for the maiden name NAME fact (Joan Able)... is this the "correct" way to do it?

Thanks
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Re: Woman's maiden vs married names - citations

Postby AdrianB38 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:05 pm

Think it through... the census tells you her given name is Joan and her family name is Baker. It doesn't, of course, tell you anything about Able.

Now - what have you entered as the name? There is no correct way of doing this....

Conventionally, we seem (oddly I think) to have got into the habit of entering just the birth name. If we do that then the census is only evidence that her given name is Joan, so you'd cite the census against that name (because it's the only one in the database) - and I'd enter the text-from-the-source that appears in the citation, as "Joan Baker" (no reason why you shouldn't enter more than is necessary).

On the other hand, if you're entering two names into your database, "Joan Able" and "Joan Baker", then I'd cite the census against the "later" name with text-from-the-source as "Joan Baker". I'd also cite the census against the "earlier" name with text-from-the-source as "Joan".

As I say, there is no correct way of dealing with married names. If I were starting again, I'd enter every married name as an Alias in addition to the Birth Name as the Primary.
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Re: Woman's maiden vs married names - citations

Postby phantomsteve » Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:40 pm

Thank you for the reply.... I was only thinking about it today (I've only been doing this genealogy lark for about 20 odd years....)

I think I'd kind of assumed that since we have her maiden name, plus the marriage fact, that it is implied that "Joan Baker" would be the same person as "Joan Able" after the marriage date....

I just wondered if there was any established way of dealing with this kind of thing (as you said, the census fact would show evidence of Baker not Able!).... but as you said, there isn't really!
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Re: Woman's maiden vs married names - citations

Postby carobradford » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:50 pm

Forgive me for saying so, but I think we are over-complicating matters here. As you say, the genealogical convention is that we identify individual women by their maiden names. The purpose of such conventions is that we all know where we are at. If we start making up our own rules, however logical they may seem to us, it will only confuse those who come after us.

If the ultra-logical citation approach is carried through to its extreme, infants born before 1969 would need to be shown as having no surname at all until the first documentary reference to a surname occurred (in most cases in a census), as neither birth registration (until that date) nor baptism explicitly allocates a surname to an individual.

If ones database allocates a unique identifier to an individual then that is all well and good; you can quite easily see which "Joan" is which and which surnames she later used - her father's and then her husband's. But that system will fail if data is shared or published in a different format.

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Re: Woman's maiden vs married names - citations

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:25 am

For me, the issue is that the conventions break down when women (usually) take a married name that is different from the simple "Replace maiden family name by husband's family name". This was happening at least as early as the 1950s in the USA when the previous family name was floated down to become a given name, possibly replacing any middle name of surname origin. Keeping track of the variant names needs alternative names and the evidence for them.

For instance, Jackie Kennedy became Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Whether or not she was ever referred to as Jackie Bouvier Kennedy while married to JFK, I don't know but if she was then the Bouvier disappeared from view after marriage to Onassis. I think. If you want to respect her by recording the names used, then you also need to record the evidence for each name, otherwise you don't know whether you have contemporary evidence for the variation or you're just writing down a possiblity.

Anyone without such examples may not need to do this sort of thing, of course.

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Re: Woman's maiden vs married names - citations

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:45 am

Incidentally, Caro, recording alternative married names doesn't mean that we should forsake the custom of using the birth name in reports. As you say, conventions are there for a reason

However, even that convention creaks a bit. The automatic report on my ancestor says that he married Margaret Hughes. Except that he didn't. He married Margaret Gandy, who was a widow - if it wasn't such an unusual name, I'd never have noticed the oddity. And of course, the source says Gandy. So I really feel that I need to edit the automatic report to make sense in the real world.

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Re: Woman's maiden vs married names - citations

Postby Kenthemusketeer » Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:07 am

Isn't this question going to get even more complex for future generations of family historians? Today we have common situations where women retain their family names after marriage and where men change theirs or both sexes combine family names.
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Re: Woman's maiden vs married names - citations

Postby Guy » Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:26 am

phantomsteve wrote:I have been working on my tree for quite a while, but I had a thought today (I'm sure I should write that down somewhere, as it doesn't happen too often!)

When I have a married woman, then as is standard she is listed on my tree under her maiden name.

My query is simple... when recording details of the woman from, for example, a census after she was married, when I use the census as a citation for her name, should it be to her maiden name, or should I create an "AKA" for this.

Let's give an example.

Joan Able married John Baker in 1900. On the 1901 census, her name will be shown as "Joan Baker".

Do I use the 1901 census as a citation for NAME fact Joan Able, or should I create an AKA Joan Baker fact and cite the 1901 census against that fact?

So far, I've always used it as a citation for the maiden name NAME fact (Joan Able)... is this the "correct" way to do it?

Thanks


The citation is only a guide or reference to the source of the information it is not a form of identification.

The additional material (such as a parish register entry of marriage or a marriage certificate) is the source of identification of the change of name, likewise the parish baptism register would show the parents and by assumption the original surname (and possibly the birth surname) of the person and the birth certificate would show by assumption the birth surname of the person.

However each of those sources would have their own citations pointing to the source.
I cannot see any point of adding names to a citation as many citations (such as census, wills and even birth or marriage records) would contain the names of various family members.
Cheers
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Re: Woman's maiden vs married names - citations

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:57 am

Kenthemusketeer wrote:Isn't this question going to get even more complex for future generations of family historians? ...

Yes!

It's not helped by the fact that most software doesn't allow date stamping of alternative names - the only way these programs can do it is to set up a separate name change event (if you can) - that's fine but it gets hard work reading it all because it's not all together in one place.

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Re: Woman's maiden vs married names - citations

Postby woodchal » Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:16 am

The surname you are born with is the only unique identifier - it is the name you born with; either your father’s surname or, if illegitimate, your mother’s surname. Male or female - you can later be known as anything, but the name you were born with is the only thing that cannot be changed as it is stuck in time.

Databases work using unique identifiers so from a database perspective we must stick to using the unique identifier. Of course we can maintain a series of other details such as marital status (widow, divorced etc) and married names (1,2,…) linked to that unique identifier. Perhaps we could create an artificial unique identifier as indicated by carobradford, but it is better if the identifier is grounded in some reality and can be shared between users and databases

Each fact/name change needs at least one citation

- Birth name - either baptism or registration
- 1st married name - marriage certificate/registration
- Subsequent married name - marriage certificate with status of widow etc

I have a very different, but very similar situation in my tree. I have an 18th Century Wigley who was born a Wigley, but under the terms of an inheritance from a cousin he changed his name to Greswolde and died as Greswolde. I do have a citation for the name change! Children born before the name change would be Wigley and afterwards would be Greswolde.
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