How should I show changes in given and middle names during a person's life? [closed]

+2 votes
My great grandmother and her two sons were all dissatisfied with how they were named by their parents.  None of the births were officially registered at the time and there seem to have been no baptismal documents.

So, my great grandmother, born Martha ("Mattie") Harriet Logsdon, chose to become Martha Eugenie Logsdon.  Her son, born Maurice Huntley, chose to become Glenn Maurice Huntley, called "Glenn."  Her younger son, born Haydn Huntley, chose to be G. Haydn Huntley (in honor of his father, George Henry Huntley, but he only used the initial), called "Haydn."

I figured out how to handle Glenn Maurice: I put the Glenn in the Preferred Name slot and left Maurice as his first name.

What do I do with Martha Harriet/Eugenie and Haydn/G. Haydn?
WikiTree profile: Martha Lydon
closed with the note: Problem resolved (as best the system will allow) - with thanks!
asked in Policy and Style by Susan Anderson G2G6 Mach 1 (16.5k points)
closed by Susan Anderson
As far as the name fields are concerned, my preference for Martha would be to include Harriet in the Middle Name field (Harriet Eugenie) since you indicate that it was part of her birth name.

For Glenn, I would have done just as you have.

For Haydn, I would probably put G. Haydn in the Preferred Name field.

Alternately, the new names they chose could be added to the Other Nicknames field.

Then, as Dennis says, explain the name changes in the Biography.

And don't worry about how the names display; trying to fit multiple naming conventions into a one-size-fits-all system just doesn't work.
Thank you, Lindy.

What I've finally done for Haydn is the same thing which was recommended for me, since I use my middle name: I put G. Haydn in the First Name field, with Haydn in the Preferred Name field, while leaving the Middle Name blank.  That way, it should appear as "Haydn Huntley" in public searches and G. Haydn (Haydn) Huntley in private searches.  Once we lift the privacy restrictions, the situation and the solution may change.

I'm considering your solution for Martha, but am reluctant to use it, because she never used the two middle names together.  So far, I haven't found any documents showing the Harriet - but I also haven't found record of her marriage to George Huntley or any school records or early census returns for her.

The problem with how the names display is whether people searching for her profile will be able to identify her from the list of results.
I would add the information about the name situation into the biography.
A belated "thank-you," Tanya.  That's what I've done, after gerrymandering the name fields as best I can!
It looks good!
Thanks for checking on it for me, Tanya.

2 Answers

+3 votes
Hi Susan.  I'm not aware of any site policy that specifically addresses your question.  I think I would try to put all of the applicable names in the data fields that display at the top of a profile, and then explain the situation in the bio, just as you have done in the question.  That way, any searches done using any of the names should find the profiles, and if other records using the "non-preferred" names are found later, they can be more easily associated with the right subject.  What you have done with Glenn Maurice looks fine to me.  You could handle Haydn the same way, and Martha could have either two middle names or two nicknames.  Just my opinion, others may disagree.
answered by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (239k points)
Thanks, Dennis.

I understand your point about catering to the search engines and I think I'll take your advice about Haydn/G. Haydn, adding a note about the "George" in his bio.

Perhaps putting both names in the middle name field, with a note in the bio, could work.  I worry, though, that it's misleading, since she never used them simultaneously.
+5 votes
Given names are a weak spot in WikiTree whenever situations arise where the Preferred Name is not really the answer. In addition to your situation I'm thinking particularly about bilingual areas where people went with given names in both languages depending on circumstances with neither form being necessarily preferred. Sometimes we would just need an Other Given Name field equivalent to the Family Name situation.
answered by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (445k points)
I agree: Such a field would be really, really nice.

Thank you.

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