I cant see the point of the Current last name field

+6 votes

From the wiki:

Current Last Name

This field could be called Preferred Last Name, Last Name at Death or Married Name.

For living people, it should be whatever they would currently prefer.

For non-living people, it should be the last name they were using at the time of their death. If a woman had multiple married names you can include the others in the Other Last Names field.

I don't really see the point of it.

1, Typically used to store married name, but this can already be derived from their marriage relationship so I dont see the point of duplicating the data.

2. Of course if they are married more than once then it doesnt really work, you now have to add the first marriage name to other last names, once again cant this just be derived form their marriage relationships.

3. For living people its the name they currently prefer, therefore its related to the date it was added, its transient, is only definently correct the instance it was added. This is contrast with most information which is correct when added and will remain correct.

4. It has multiple meanings, for example what do you enter if someone is married but they prefer another name, i.e you cannot rely on it meaning anything in particular.





in Policy and Style by Paul Taylor G2G6 Mach 1 (19.0k points)
The former Prime Minister of the UK was Margaret Thatcher.  If her current last name wasn't used, I wouldn't have a clue as to how to find her on Wikitree.  President Obama has a wife called Michelle Obama, imagine trying to find her profile without a current last name attached.
I'm also uneasy that a field used overwhelmingly for women's married names has a different description. I would prefer a separate married name field for this purpose, linked to the spouse record so multiples are allowed. Multiply married women would then be styled MarriedN ... formerly Married2 formerly Married1 formerly Birthname.

The Current Last Name field could then be used for odd cases like aliases, assumed names, alternate spellings.
Vincent, what I mean is when you search for lastname there is nothing to stop the wikitree database search returning both peoples whose lastname is 'obama' or people married to someone whose surname is 'obama'. There is no need for user to manually enter the married name.

This is how ancestry.com works, do a search for a married person and it can return results for a womens maiden name and married name, but nowhere do I have to enter her married name as a field on her profile it is inferred by their marriage relationships.
It works both ways, for instance, I have a Spanish wife and Spanish women don't assume the husband's family name at marriage.  As for aliases and other last names as with one from a previous marriage, there is the other last name field for those instances.  As for Ancestry.com I don't know, I only use Family Search and records there are indexed in general by Current Last Name.
Vincent, so for your Spanish example there would be no difference between birth lastname and current lastname. So with the current system there would be no easy way of finding your wife if you only knew your surname because your surname would not be in their profile.

But with my proposal it wouldnt matter because search would automtically search for people with spouses of the name  searched for.
What about people who changed their names?  From Rosenfeld to Ross?  From Slingbaum to Wilson?  

Knowing Slingbaum did not help me find Wilson at ancestry.
If someone has changed their name to a name that is not their maiden name or their spouses name then that certainly should be recorded somewhere and that is indeed a valid use of current last name if we have nowhere else to store it, although I dont think 'current last name' would be the right name for the field

But there doesnt seem to be a good reason to simply put in married name,

4 Answers

0 votes
The Current Last Name field, is primarily used for women who get married. For Example.  Miss Anne Jones (LNAB = Jones) married Fred Smith and becomes Mrs Anne Smith (Current Last name = Smith). This is quite self explanatory.

However, in some cases people change their last names by Deed Poll, or by Adoption, and so that becomes a case for a Current Last Name being different to LNAB.

It means there is only 1 field, for a variety of reasons, rather than multiplt fields, that would rarely be used.
by Dave Welburn G2G6 Pilot (144k points)
I see no reason to use it for married name. Is useful for the other cases but I dont like the 'current' part. Personally would think would be better if different fields otherwise you are not recording the reason for the name change.
0 votes
http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Baily-29 Edith H (Baily) Dent Goode Hauser. She was married 3 X. Baily is her maiden name also known as Bailey / Bayley. There is no place to enter Bailey / Bayley.

http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Edmonston-57 Donna M (Edmonston) Vickery Scott Garza Elliott. She was married 4X. There is no place for the Garza & Elliott names.
by Anonymous Vickery G2G6 Pilot (263k points)

Sorry but your Edit H Baily example seem an example of the wrong way to do it. Should not Other Last Names be the place to record name variations such as Bailey/Bayley. There should be no need to record to the surnames of her various husbands since we already know the name of her husbands via the marriage relastionships and can therefore simply that she may have had the same surname at some point in her life.

In the Bailey example the surname of her last husband should be added. The 2 previous surnames should be added in the other Last Name field, separated by a comma.

Thank You :)
But Bailey / Bayley shoud go in other last names as well, of course this now means that other last names contains two completely different types of last names (spelling variations/surnames of previous husbands)
+2 votes

Hi Paul,

The current last name is used as the default surname when you add a child or sibling which in many cases (but certainly not all) saves a few keystrokes and prevents a few typos/errors - Mr. van der Burgh emigrates becoming Mr. Vanderburgh, by adding the latter name as current last name his children are created as Vanderburghs; Likewise immigrant Ho Lee Wei may have children all with the surname Wei because of the indifference of some administrator.

by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (296k points)
+2 votes
I don't think you're going to win this debate, Paul.  There are lots of ways a Wiki could be set up as far as storing surnames, and there are good arguments for many of them, but at some point a decision has to be made and the wiki created.  That ship has already left the harbor  here and there's no way it's going to change course unless a fatal flaw in found.  I don't know of an iceberg looming.  Even if it was changed, there'd be lots of people complaining about the change and pining for the good old days.

And one thing you need to remember is that this is a cooperative venture and we have to think about dealing with all sorts of people with all sorts of experience, etc.  There are enough truly puzzling aspects to WikiTree that arguing over what is the theoretically best way to enter surnames should be well down on your to-do list.
by Living Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (448k points)
Yes I don't expect it to be changed, but I was trying to ascertain the reason for it and from the answers I have had about married names it seems clear it has been done this way to compensate for issues with how search works. Search could be fixed so that adding current name for married names becomes an optional and essentially pointless extra task.

I totally understand this is a cooperative venture, (I was heavily involved in another cooperative venture called musicbrainz), but you must realize that everyone has different priorities and perspectives, and for me surnames seems a key aspect of the whole wikitree site, and one of my top priorities.

Related questions

+10 votes
3 answers
+5 votes
2 answers
0 votes
1 answer
+7 votes
1 answer
+7 votes
1 answer
154 views asked Apr 14, 2016 in Policy and Style by Gaston Tardif G2G6 Mach 1 (16.1k points)
+3 votes
0 answers
131 views asked Jun 28, 2013 in Genealogy Help by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (296k points)
+12 votes
2 answers
536 views asked Mar 9, 2017 in WikiTree Tech by Jon Czarowitz G2G6 Mach 4 (45.6k points)

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright