Women's Maiden or Nee Names VS Current (married) names.

+9 votes
1.     When you add a woman who is married...PLEASE....enter her new current married name.

2.     If you are looking at possible matches and have opened a profile for comparison or second look.....PLEASE....take the time to change her maiden name to her current married name.
in Policy and Style by Brian Ward G2G5 (5.4k points)
retagged by Keith Hathaway
Unless she didn't change her name when she got married. In that case, please don't. :)

This is one of those cases where it's helpful to be aware of the customs of the place and time you're working on; in some places and times it's pretty safe to assume a woman took her husband's name, and in others it's safe to assume she didn't.
Agreed. I'd be none too happy if my name were changed to my husband's :)
I kept my name too - I'd be just another O'_____ if i hadn't...I like being a bit unique!  Mags
well I go by my maiden name even tho I have been married twice in the pass...got my maiden name back when divorced...
I returned to my maiden name also, but if that is a known fact for a profile, make a note of it within the profile.  

I do agree with Brian, that putting in the married last name does help with searches and matching.
Brian, you don't say in your original post WHERE you want us to put the married name. Wikitree protocol is

Last name at birth = what she was born with (i.e., her maiden name)

Current last name = the name she died with (this would be her last married name IF she took her husband's name)

Other names = other last names associated with her (e.g., previous husbands, or the surname of her husband if she didn't take his last name, so that we can help find her by her husband's name)
Thank you, Jillaine, for your REASSERTION of the wikiprotocol for listing women's surnames. The other legitimate sites use the same protocol and it seems to me that those asking for the listing of married names first, that is, before the birth surname, must be new or relatively new to genaology.

Can a tech person put a reminder to use the wikiprotocol when starting to describe a new person on any tree? It would be another plotting point on the learning practices of creating a valid tree, and create another way to clarify what are the always muddy issues of history and its records.

3 Answers

+7 votes
Best answer
Hi Brian,

Because of the cultural difference mentioned, I try to include the following notation in the public bulletin board for Smith women when I change her Current Last Name to whatever I expect to find on her gravestone.

"I do not have sources or additional information. Based solely on other names I see on this profile, I have changed her CurrentLastName to the one I expect she was using at the time of her death. I could be wrong, so please correct as necessary. The WikiTree database is huge, so we need to find acceptable ways to narrow our Smith search results. With this change, we can search for her by her LastNameAtBirth or her CurrentLastName and still find her. If she was married more than once, her other married names are in the OtherLastNames field and can also be searched. Ex: Abigail Amelia Betts formerly Smith aka Adams is profile Smith-4467, but can be searched as Abigail Betts and Abigail Adams, too. "
by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (531k points)
selected by Lundie Pinner
This would all be unnecessary if the search looked at husbands' names.

There's yet another problem with women's names, and it's one I have used.

After a second divorce (in my mid-40s) and 2 name changes toward the husbands' surnames, I had to devise a solution. Living with my father's unpronounceable and unspellable surname (which was mine from birth to first marriage, in college), I chose my own middle name. My parents named me using traditional naming practices. Roberta was for my father's adoptive father Robert; Burnett was my mother's birth surname. So legally I became Roberta Burnett. At birth I'd been Roberta Burnett Hilse. My choice (I didn't know why then) upset my father. He'd been born in Germany with his mother's surname, and she taught him that it was a social stigma attached to "illegitimate children." Alas: little did she know at 16 when she got pregnant that many children of her mother's family lines had to wait to be legitimized legally by their fathers because of German laws restricting those who got married by other cultural markers showing the man's capability of taking responsibility for the livelihood of a family. They all did that except in my gma Anna's case because her child's father was kept, by one or the other of that couple, from signing my father's birth registration, presumably because he was Ashkenazi Jewish. It took a DNA test to unravel that part of the story. She left Germany almost immediately after his birth (leaving her infant with her grandmother) because at the time of his birth, Anna was also almost an orphan, with only her father and one grandmother (in her mother's line) remaining alive.  

         Why explain all that complexity over the problems of naming? Because, given the human condition, we genealogists (amateur and pro) are consistently confronting similarly convoluted histories--we are not unearthing only the names of our ancestors. My father died not knowing his mysterious father AND not knowing that he also had nobility in his family (von Berg). I think he approached his life with the sense of being a child kept in the dark about so much (read as "seriously weakened") and stigmatized too--when he needn't have been!.


+4 votes
I will only change a womans current last name if there is some evidence that she used or is using her husbands last name.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
Dale has summed it up concisely - we analyze the evidence (including it's credibility and bias) and what conclusions that evidence supports or refutes; we document our sources, and in the absence of clear and specific evidence (or when evidence conflicts, or is discounted as biased/erroneous/uncredible) we explain our reasoning.
+4 votes
Pre 1900 Swedish women most often did not take their husband's last name so they should not be changed. So as several others have already said, make sure you know that the woman changed it or what the costoms are.
by Lena Svensson G2G6 Mach 4 (49.4k points)

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