In new france women did not change their names at marriage - We should not impose a current cultural practice on history

+10 votes
What more information is needed.  RIGHT WAY or wrong way?
in Policy and Style by anonymous G2G Crew (460 points)
edited by Keith Hathaway

4 Answers

+14 votes
Best answer

Hi Joe, We are glad you have joined us.  I wrote out a whole long response, but I lost it when I went to copy this part of the Honor Code: 

We know mistakes are inevitable. We don't want to be afraid to make them. We assume that mistakes are unintentional when others make them and ask for the same understanding.

So, I will start again. We understand that there are cultural differences and we are careful not to impose one standard on all situations.  The Current Last Name should have the surname we expect, or know, we will find a woman's gravestone, whatever surname that might be.

In Smiths, it is very much easier to search for Smith women by their married name, and in most, not all, western cultures this works.  So when I search for Mary Smith, I get 3810 records in the results list; but if I search for Mary Partridge, I get 64 records.  So it is clearly easier to search for Mary (Smith) Partridge by her married name.  If she had been married multiple times and her other husband's surnames were listed in the Other Last Names field, we could search for her by those surnames too.  

So, we pay attention to the cultural norms for a particular profile, but if someone makes an error: We assume that mistakes are unintentional when others make them.  It is best to correct the Current Last Name and state the source for the correct information as a Public Bulletin Board message or a Biography notation on the profile.  Thanks for a good reminder, and for any help you can render to mark these differences on the profiles.  

by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (473k points)
selected by Dale Byers
+8 votes
My personal take on this is as follows:

I never change a womans maiden name to that of her husbands UNLESS I find a source that indicates that she has used that last name. That way it seems to fit the current standards on here at least most of the time.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+7 votes
In any effort with a group of people there will be some things that one doesn't like but puts up with because being in the group is more important!  For me, the naming conventions in Wikitree drive me up the wall, because as someone who has done extensive genealogy all his life, the convention is to ALWAYS refer to a woman by her maiden name unless specifically referring to a document that addresses her by her married name.

I'm sure this is a topic that will continue to tax the best minds in Wikitree as we seek to do justice to all the ways a person was known -- and how they might be indexed or found.  The prototype of a perplexing issue I can think of would be how you would name Jesus.  His parents probably called him Yeshua;  we say Jesus in English and Spanish.  He might be called Jesus of Nazareth, but would you use Nazareth as a family name?  And for almost 2000 years he has been called "Jesus Christ", but "Christ" is not a last name, it's a function, the Greek word for Messiah.  I think if Wikitree leaders figured out how to do that in a way that satisfied everyone, they could probably mediate any conflict in the world!
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (265k points)
+6 votes

The naming standards for the Current Last Name (CLN) field state "for non-living people, it should be the last name they were using at the time of their death"

If a woman from New France or elsewhere, didn't ever take her husband's name, but consistently used her birth name throughout her life, then that is the name that should be used in the CLN. 

For most of my anglo ancestors, they would have taken their husband's name and most sources (census, death & burial records, children's baptisms etc) reflect this change in surname and consequently, whether I agree with it or not, it is appropriate to use this name as the CLN.

Equally in situations where a husband, took on his wife's name or added her name to his, then the CLN should be changed as well.

In contemporary society, of course, naming patterns can vary enormously but again, the rule is. to use what they would have used.

I don't think there is any attempt to impose anyone else's cultural practices (apart from those limitations that might be imposed by the software)

by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (341k points)
Trouble is, we're in the business of constructing an index, and an index doesn't work if you have to know too much about the person you're trying to look up.

Ideally it would always be possible to search on husband's surname (not necessarily the last husband) because that may be all you have.

But ideally the system would search on husbands' names directly and it wouldn't be necessary to duplicate them in the CLN and OLN fields.
Good point, RJ.

I think also that most people object to the DISPLAY of the woman's married name when it excludes her maiden name. I know that one really drives me bonkers.
On the matter of indexing, I think WikiTree has already solved the most important problem -- the file is linked to one word and a number.  I don't see it would be a technical IT problem to link that one word/number to several names -- maiden name, various married names, etc.

On the matter of profiles, I think the name at top should be the name the person would have wanted to be known by.  So it would be Mohammed Ali, not Cassius Clay.  Under that as a separate line would be the Full Name at Birth, which would be Cassius Clay. It probably would be helpful to display, again on a separate line, the index name, which if it follows LNAB, would be Clay-####.  Then there could be separate lines for aliases.  The current method of trying to run as much together on one line at the top results in combinations which were never known in real life.

As we do more foreign names, this would accomodate it.  I've seen formal names of Latino men in the order of (1) the given name, (2) the father's last name, followed by (3) the mother's maiden name;  that order should be at the top of the profile, but it's the word in (2) that would be the indexed family name.

I lived in China as a child and was given the Chinese name of Dai Wan Kwang.  That was never used legally so would only appear in my profile as a curiosity, but if it were the name I used, then the family name -- which we mean by last name at birth -- would be Dai, and that's how I ought to be indexed.  I am Wan Kwang of the Dai family.  

None of these are problems for the index structure which is simply family name + number.  Over time, I'm sure it will be possible to tinker with the graphical user interface for the profile so it accomodates different cultures more readily.

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