Standardized spelling of names

+5 votes
More of an observation/vent than a question.  I've been working on cleaning up the many duplicates of Puritan emigrants and thier children.  Just when I think I have a family cleaned up I run across another variation of the spelling.  The help section info says we should spell the names the way they would have at the time.  Problem is, they didn't have a standardized spelling, many times having various spellings within the same document.  So while we all agree on the pronunciation of, say, KIL-BORN, should we spell it Kilbourne, Kilborne or Kilborn?  All three seem to have been used at the same time so it is impossible to say what the correct contemporary spelling would have been.  Same for Bronson/Brownson/Brunson; Olmsted/Olmstead; Root/Roote among others.  Should we as a community adapt standard spellings to ease indexing and finding/merging duplicates?  Of course, we would still adhere to the original spellings when citing sources or quoting from them.  Just a vent and food for thought. Thanks.
in Policy and Style by Dan Thompson G2G6 Mach 2 (24.1k points)

1 Answer

+7 votes
Best answer
I generally use whichever spelling shows up the most in the original records. Often one shows up more than the others.

To help with finding matches, put alternative spellings in the Other Last Names field. That way they'll still come up in searches!
by Liander Lavoie G2G6 Pilot (453k points)
selected by Dan Thompson

Thanks for the tip about putting the alternative spelling in the Other Last Names field.  I am trying to clean up the multiple Phoebe Lay profiles, but many have spelled the last name Laye.  As Lay seems to be preferred by most, I will use that as the Last Name and use Laye as an Other Last Name.


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