I'd like to propose the creation of a template for Surname Not Certain

+4 votes
80 views

I had previously asked the question if we have a template for Maiden name not certain and S. J. Baty brought to my attention that if I request one it would be more useful as Surname Not Certain, with which I agree after reading his response; "I can think of more occasions where I would use it for a woman's surname but also for a man's surname -especially in my Swedish lines when the surnames changed from patronymic to same-surname based names." You can view the original post by clicking on this link  https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/1081072/do-we-have-a-template-for-maiden-name-not-certain?show=1081590#c1081590 

I am aware of the {{Uncertain Family}} template but to me, it does not seem to fit some of the profiles. When adding this person to parents or siblings with that surname I would use the {{Uncertain Family}} if the relationship is in question. In my case I adopted a profile where there is a question of her Surname being accurate. I found there are three profiles on wikitree for her including the one I adopted. Two with a surname that is accepted by family members and one that lists her as Unknown. There is indication from a published researcher for her surname that states she is not of that surname. There are sources for her current surname although I think most stem from family trees. Pros of leaving the Surname instead of making her an Unknown is that family can easily find her on Wikitree since that is the name they have used for many years, (in cases of people born in the 1700's and earlier we may never find a source for their actual surname), the template would let everyone know this may not actually be her surname, maybe someone would provide a source for her surname if they know it is in question and lastly it would facilitate the merge of all three profiles. I think we have all added family profiles of people that are known by a certain surname to find out later there is not an actual source just family trees handed down. I would not want to change their Surname to Unknown but would note that I don't have a source for the name. A template would make sure that notation is seen.

WikiTree profile: Elinor Norton
in The Tree House by Sharon Glover G2G6 (9.8k points)
edited by Sharon Glover
I would support this.

2 Answers

+4 votes
The Current Last Name or Other Last Names fields could be used with the 'name she was known as' but keeping the LNAB at Unknown.
by Linda Peterson G2G6 Pilot (533k points)

Linda, I appreciate your response! To me this would be a work around solution at best. It would allow people that knew about the work around to say this person is known as, but it will still list the person as Unknown. I cannot say for certain the surname of this person is not accurate. Most people agree with her surname and some to a lesser degree believe it is not accurate. I feel the profile should be noted that it may not be accurate based on my research as I am not positive either way due to conflicting information. Notating that this surname may not be accurate in Research Notes may go unnoticed, but a template will draw attention to the fact. I also feel that it will make searching for her on Wikitree more difficult if she is listed as Unknown, especially since most people will search for her by the said surname which as a result may contribute to duplicates as indicated by the three existing profiles on Wikitree for her currently. To be fair I believe this is also partly due to the spelling of her first name. The person that believes her surname is correct may not want to merge the profile with someone that lists her name as Unknown and vice versa. If we had an irrefutable source to prove this is her surname or it is not her surname it would be different. It is my belief that a template would satisfy everyone involved. I would also like to mention that I manage other profiles where the template suggested would be useful.

When you put a name in the 'Other Last Names' field they are used during a Search, which is why misspellings should be included.  I have searched for those misspellings and found the sources plenty of times where the correct spelling was not found in many sources.  

You could put a 'heading' right under "biography' that states 'uncertain Last Name at Birth'  and put your explanation there, so it isn't lost further down in Research Notes.  I have seen people do that when there are Uncertain parents, etc.  You could also put Unknown into your Other Last Names field.
+4 votes
I'm not a fan of "Uncertain" and "Estimated" templates (with the limited exception of the "Uncertain Existence" template for people were probably made up). Once you go back X generations, most profiles have multiple uncertainties. They are normal and not so exceptional that they deserve a template. Better to discuss the uncertainties in the bio under appropriate section headings than put (perhaps multiple) obtrusive templates on them.
by Chase Ashley G2G6 Pilot (220k points)
I think that Chase and Linda have the right idea: == Uncertain Surname/Last Name/Family Name ==, followed by your explanation below. The placement, as Linda says, immediately under the biography header draws attention to it. A template would make one look in another location for the explanation.

Chase, I agree that once you go back X generations, most profiles have multiple uncertainties which is why I do not want to change her surname to Unknown unless provided with irrefutable proof. I also would not use the template on these people unless there was a believable source that made me doubt or question the surname of that person and in this case, there is one. The source alone is not enough by itself for me to remove her surname, it is however enough to make me question and bring attention to this fact. The templates may be obtrusive, but they bring attention to a problem that needs attention. I also see them as a temporary fixture in hopes that someone with more knowledge or resources than I will come along and provide what is needed to put the issue to rest, at which point the template would be removed.  As for them being considered exceptional, probably not but do they have to be exceptional to need attention? I have come across several profiles where Surname Not Certain would be beneficial, this is just the one that made me finally ask the question.

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