Using Jr./Sr. in Suffix

+3 votes
2.1k views
I have see lots of profiles which use Jr. or Sr. as a suffix.  It seems great, at first, but then a Jr. changes to Sr. when the original Sr. dies.  This means that duplicate profiles for the same person can show up as John Smith, Jr. and John Smith, Sr.  What is the best way of dealing with this?

Vic
in Genealogy Help by Vic Watt G2G6 Pilot (322k points)

2 Answers

+2 votes
In my opinion Sr would be the first in the line with Jr being the second the others in the line should be III then IV ect.
by Ed Tripp G2G Rookie (260 points)
It depends on who you're named after. A son named after his father is a junior. A child named after another male relative (say an uncle or a grandfather) is II, III, and so on.

The son of a "junior" becomes a III (3rd) because he is, in effect, named not for his father but for his grandfather.

It is common -- but not mandatory -- for juniors to stop using the suffix after their namesake dies. Exceptions include Harry Connick, Jr., and Effrem Zimalist, Jr., who probably retained the suffix because their fathers were well-known in their particular fields.

In addition, a comma precedes "junior" as in "Effrem Zimbalist, Jr." but not a "III" as in "Effrem Zimbalist III."
+3 votes
My father is a Sr.  I am a Jr.  My son is "III".  It carries through that way.  God help the soul of the person who calls me Jr.!
by
That may be the practice in your family, but it is not generally the way it works.  The problem we have here is that the same person is shown both as Sr. and Jr.
I am a "Junior" as well, and my father was a "Senior."  I can't say that I have ever seen anyone switch from one to the other.  I have seen "Juniors" convert to "II", but certainly not to "Senior."
The way I understood it, sometimes there will be a Sr., a Jr. and a III.  When Sr. died, Jr. dropped that suffix, but III remained the same.  Unfortunately, in some New England records, a man who had been a Jr., if his father had already died, had a son call Jr.

My question is really, what should I do when I an trying to merge profiles when one is for Sr. and one is for Jr.?  My inclination is to strip out the suffix completely in those situations.
In our current style guide http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Name_Fields#Suffix we say it should be the suffix at birth. If this conversation leads to a conclusion to change the style, we should update the style guide.
After a quick refresher on the suffix field, I realized that I haven't been conforming to "suffix at birth" either.

Obviously, in the case of a "Sr.", the suffix is not part of the name at birth, so what would be the suggested way to handle that?  Also, I have often used the suffix field for suffixes such as KG, KB and FRS which are usually conferred later in life.  What would be the best way to handle those?  

Should the suffix field be treated in the same way as the title field, where the "highest" or last suffix used (blank to Sr., Jr. to II) would be used?

Just tossing ideas around...
There is "Convention" or "Style" and then there is what people do.  Sometimes people don't follow convention or style, either out of a personal decision, or out of ignorance.

As for Junior and Senior, in the U.S. it is not customary convention for a Junior to become a Senior in naming "when the elder man dies."  It may be a form of address, i.e. a nickname, or it may be used to avoid confusion, and sometimes this makes it into the public record - but it is not the standard convention.  The use of Junior, II, III, IV and so on is applied to descendents who share the *exact* same full name as their predecessor, with the style "II" usually applied when a generation is skipped in naming, or when the individual is named for someone not in direct line (i.e. after an uncle).  With the disdain many modern men have for being called "Junior," the use of "II" has become increasing common as a replacement for "Jr."    The style "Senior" is not applied until a like-named child is born, and is often only maintained if the child lives into adulthood.

I think it's important to stick with convention, as it is intended, for a guideline. With the exception of "Sr.," our standard shoud be name at birth.   However, naming is not as tidy in reality as convention would dictate, so we have to be prepared for some individuals who will not fit into such a tidy box.  If a person lives with, and dies with, a name that is unconventional I think an explanation can and should be included in the Biography section of the profile.  As in "John Doe was born with the appellation 'Jr.' but became known as John Doe Sr. after his father died, and was buried with this name.  He named his son 'John Doe, Jr.' as well."

Dates become very important to help distinguish between individuals, even if it's just a "born before" or "died after" year.

In any case, it's an unfortunate but common difficulty in genealogy when people don't stick with the name they are born with throughout their life, and records are often generated over time with multiple names and appellations.

To answer your specific Question: When merging, I'd choose the birth name (i.e. "Jr."), or if you don't have documentation for the birth name, whichever name has the strongest documentation, and again... note the discrepancy in the Bio.

That's my two cents.

- Mike
I have seen in both Colonial ("U.S.") records and in German church records the term "Jr" used to distinguish one man (and sometimes even one woman) from another by the same name where "Sr." simply means the person was older (and not even necessarily the father of "Jr"). The original poster is correct: at least in *records,* when the first "Sr" dies, the former "Jr" becomes "Sr." WHEN there is a third younger person by the same name, who then becomes the new "Jr".

Such usages should be reported when citing the records where those suffixes are used BUT when using the suffix field for profile pages, it would seem far more appropriate to select a fixed starting point for Sr (and personally, I would use Roman numeral one, "I") at the start of a string of generations of a set of same names and stick with it.

Changes from "Jr" to "Sr" for a given person should only be done when citing sources where those appelations are used.

Great comments, everyone.

Any specific input on the exact wording for http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Name_Fields#Suffix?

Just add Mike's comment on including "Sr." or "I" when there was no suffix at birth but it was added later?

When using "I" or "Sr" as a suffix for purposes of distinguishing one generation from another, I have also placed into the narrative an explanation such as:

"While the use of "I" is used here, it is only for distinction purposes; the person did not use such a prefix in their lifetime, nor did he appear so named in records."
I'd have to go with Mike.  Very well thought out and great explanation.

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