Do you hold off creating profiles because of LNAB issues?

+6 votes

I asked this question as a comment on the linked profile, but it's really a general Wikitree question so I thought I'd re-ask it here.

I'd like to create profiles for the rest of Henry Van Meter's children. As far as I know, there are no known birth records for some of them. Others had baptisms recorded, but the source I found for these states

"The extant records of the Pittsgrove Presbyterian Church are written in a large folio volume seventeen inches by eleven in size, containing five hundred and fifty pages. They were copied from the original books by the Revd. I. Foster."

In other words, I am looking at a transcription of a copy, so it's really questionable whether it is showing the LNAB as spelled in the true original register. There are signs that it isn't -- I'm familiar with a lot of the names in the register, and looking at those that I know sometimes have multiple spellings, I see instead consistent spelling.

So my question is twofold:

  • Would you actually hold off creating these profiles until you can get a look at another record that, AFAIK, is not online (and may not exist)? That's going to be a long wait!
  • There are G2G posts that say to use the "earliest recorded spelling", although I don't see that in the help page. If you do create a profile, and you can choose, say, between the spelling in an original marriage record with an image online versus a transcription of a copy of a baptismal register, which is more reasonable for the LNAB? Is it not reasonable to take into account whether the source is derivative, or even extremely derivative?
WikiTree profile: Hendrick Jansen Van Meter
in Policy and Style by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (163k points)
I would add the children using the names as in this source. If they are properly sourced, this secondary source would be identified with the annotation that it was copied from earlier, probably (or assumed to be) original records. This source, such as it is, may be the best that exists for this family; for some of the children it may be the only source. If the source of the transcription is found in the future names can be changed if needed.
I run into something similar in Québécois project, with the added quirk of ''dit names''.  Some children actually get baptized with only the dit name.  So for example if the father is named Jean Beaupré dit Larivière, some kids get named xx Beaupré, some get named yy Larivière.  Actual baptisms in this manner.  When a baptism cannot be found and we want the profile created, we use the original name of the father (ie Beaupré).

Whether you create them or not is up to you.  If there are uncertainties about what the LNAB should be, record it in notes on the profile, stating reasoning.

4 Answers

+4 votes
Barry, my own preference would be to create the children's profiles only if I wanted to do something with them such as add descendants; otherwise, you might consider simply listing them on the father's profile.

I've seen prior G2G discussions on this subject.  Some people seem to think, regardless whether it strictly follows the WikiTree LNAB guidelines, that it is better to list all the children with the same LNAB, thus disregarding minor spelling differences in birth or baptism records which of course may be due to the lack of standardized spelling in prior eras.  So if you want to go ahead and add the children without birth or baptism records, I'd say use the father's name.
by Julie Kelts G2G6 Pilot (314k points)
The father’s baptism used a patronym, so that doesn’t help.  He used multiple spellings later in life.  Those opinions that all children should use the same spelling would often violate written Wikitree policy, so I wouldn’t follow that as a rule. But it sounds like there is agreement to make the profiles,m. They are my distant aunts and uncles, so I will definitely work on them.
It looks like you do have names for several of those children, so you have something to go on.  I still think there is some merit in using consistent names for children in a family.

Edited for clarity (I hope!).
Usually the baptism record gives the father's surname, not the child's.  So at the end of all the baptisms, you have a bunch of different spellings for the father, and none for the children.

You can't assume the children inherit the father's spelling, because the father has a bunch of spellings.

So do you assume that the child inherited the father's spelling on the day?  But that was only the minister's whim.  The father wasn't consulted.  He didn't fill out a form.

So at what point did this all get ridiculous?

Obviously the kids all have the same surname.  There might be a good reason to vary the spellings.  But the baptism records can't be a good reason.
I don't understand what that mean, "the baptism record gives the father's surname, not the child's." The very definition of hereditary surnames means that these are the same name. It gives their common surname, no? Although baptism records usually put that name once, right next to the father's call name, it is absolutely clear to me that it is the name being given to the child as well.

On the other hand, a modern birth certificate would name both a father and a child. On a very rare occasion, those names might be spelled differently -- but because of error. And Wikitree policy does account for using a different spelling for LNAB other than that on the birth certificate if there is cause to believe there was such an error. But it does not view a particular spelling arising from being recorded at a time of non-standardized spelling as being an error.

The very definition of hereditary surnames means that these are the same name.

So are we pretending that the father has a whole bunch of spellings, but the child only inherits one of them?  Does the child not inherit the whole bunch? 

In which case, why are we looking at the baptism record?  It's only a random sample.

My impression is -- because Wikitree uses the surname as an identifier, instead of assigning each person a number or something. Because of this choice in the implementation, we need a well-defined policy on choosing an surname to give clear guidance on which direction merges need to go, etc. So Wikitree chose the LNAB as something that is relatively clearly defined -- also more likely to be primary information than, say, the LNADeath.
But Barry, there have always been what one might call "common-sense" exceptions.  There is another thread in the list of related questions below in which some of the same discussion took place as is going on here:
Yes, I mentioned the policy on exceptions above. But here, common sense will not tell me whether to use “Van Meter” vs. “Vanmeter”
Right now you have three children named Van Meter and one named Vanmeter.  I'd go with the majority (and consider changing the other one).
+4 votes
I definitely hold off creating profiles for this very issue.  Given a couple of sources, like a transcription of baptism and a marriage source (where you can see the image), I would probably create the profile.  I would probably choose the baptism over the marriage record because it's earlier as long as the last name seemed reasonable.  I would definitely put additional spellings in "other last names."

And, if someone came along with a good argument about why the name should be different, I'd be ready to listen and merge if I had to.
by Kathy Zipperer G2G6 Pilot (290k points)
+5 votes

We have a similar problem for Finnish profiles. In many cases the birth record was recorded by the local priest.  Even if the local language was Finnish the record was most often given in Swedish, the language of the priest.  So many Finnish profiles use the Swedish name because that was the recording language.  We have the profiles in WikiTree using Swedish knowing full well the name was most likely Finnish.

So make the profile, use the name given in your source and let it be an example of the complexities of genealogy.  If better sources are obtained, LNAB can always be changed.
by Norm Lindquist G2G6 Mach 5 (52.3k points)
I would make the profile.  If it exists there is a greater likelihood that someone else will snag onto it and thus connect our tree.  I HAVE HAD THIS HAPPEN.
+1 vote
I do.  I really hate to make an Unknown LNAB.
by Joelle Colville-Hanson G2G6 Pilot (109k points)
I wasn't considering "Unknown." It would make more sense to put in a spelling that turns out to be wrong and change it than to put Unknown and then end up changing it. The question was about whether to even not make the profile at all until the LNAB is certain.

Related questions

+6 votes
1 answer
105 views asked Jul 15, 2019 in Policy and Style by K. Bloom G2G6 (9.2k points)
+2 votes
1 answer
75 views asked Apr 3, 2020 in Policy and Style by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (163k points)
+3 votes
3 answers
198 views asked Sep 12, 2019 in Policy and Style by Stu Bloom G2G6 Mach 5 (54.1k points)
+2 votes
9 answers
281 views asked Sep 7, 2019 in Policy and Style by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (163k points)
+4 votes
2 answers
98 views asked Jan 14, 2018 in Policy and Style by Elizabeth Coltrane G2G6 Mach 1 (18.5k points)
+10 votes
1 answer
141 views asked Oct 10, 2017 in Policy and Style by Jayme Arrington G2G6 Pilot (110k points)
+13 votes
1 answer

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright