Use of 'Preferred Name' field

+6 votes
What is the correct use of 'Preferred Name' field?  I have a managed profile in which her name on every source except one her name is shown as Eliza.  The one exception is Find A Grave, where her name is listed as Elizabeth.  But, even her gravestone photograph on the Find A Grave site shows Eliza.  

Should it be (1)Proper First Name: Elizabeth; Preferred Name: Eliza

Or (2)Proper First Name: Eliza; Other Nicknames: Elizabeth

Or (3)Proper First Name: Elizabeth; Preferred Name: Elizabeth; Other Nicknames: Eliza

Or (4) Proper First Name: Eliza; Preferred Name: Elizabeth

My preference is #2.  Another member has changed it to #3.    


Here is my reasoning:  My name is Peggy.  I've been Peggy from birth.  It is the name on my driving license, the deed to my home, and my marriage license.  From time to time some official changes my first name to the "proper" usage:  Margaret.  Those people are incorrect.  My name is Peggy.  I assume that Eliza's name is Eliza and that the official at Find A Grave corrected the name incorrectly.
WikiTree profile: Eliza Shives
in Policy and Style by Peggy McMath G2G6 Mach 7 (71.6k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
I don't think Find A Grave has officials.  It's just a user contrib site.  Most of the info doesn't come from gravestones or cemetery records, it's just what the poster has got from Ancestry trees etc.

First name at birth - Elizabeth

Preferred Name - Eliza

I would say option #1.  She should come up in searches for either Elizabeth or Eliza that way.  Also, the FindAGrave source should not be ignored.  If it is wrong, as they use of Margaret is for you, then an explanation should be included in the == Biography == section. 

What you have here is a Findagrave contributor (an individual contributor -- not an "official") who decided (without any apparent basis) that this woman's first name must have been Elizabeth and Eliza was merely a nickname -- even though the gravestone depicted on Findagrave gives her name as Eliza.

It appears to me that Eliza should be recorded as her first name at birth as well as her preferred name.

And I suggest that you submit an edit request to Findagrave to change the name to Eliza to correspond to what appears on her gravestone.

3 Answers

+6 votes
I agree with you, Peggy.

For the record, the profile you linked to is -- for some reason (probably due to GDPR), the link isn't displaying correctly.
by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.6m points)
What is wrong with the link?  It works OK for me.
For a little while there, all links in G2G posts were disabled.  The technical glitch that caused that was resolved.
+6 votes
I always assumed we use the official first name as mentioned at birth as the proper name in Wikitree and the daily use name as preferred name. So I would go for option 1.
by Eef van Hout G2G6 Pilot (195k points)
But, her name is Eliza in 5 census's, 6 marriage licenses and 1 death certificate of her children, her obituary and gravestone as well as a genealogy written by her cousin.  All but the genealogy occurred within her lifetime or immediately after.  Only in FindAGrave which dates long after her death is Elizabeth seen and there is no source cited for that instance.
As you don't have a baptism or birth record, I would leave her as Eliza as her Proper Name and Preferred Name and mention that FAG has her as Elizabeth in the bio. It sounds like all the records from her time called her Eliza. A "modern" person without any record has decided she should be called Elizabeth. Stick to your gut AND the available sources!

Actually, I think Wikitree places too much emphasis on FAG. I have an example of a memorial in New Zealand put up by a wife, who is later buried in the grave, for her husband who actually died in England while on a trip and is buried there. Some of the relationship links suggested can be just as inaccurate as unsourced online family trees.
+5 votes

I'd say stick to Eliza for first name and preferred name, unless the Find A Grave manager can provide a record showing the use of Elizabeth,  especially if the headstone says Eliza.   Find A Grave managers don't always have a source for what they post.

I too am a Peggy and wouldn't want someone to declare me a Margaret.

I have an Aunt Gracie,  who was never a Grace.

I have an Aunt Gertie,  who was never a Gertrude.

I have a Grandmother Virgie,  who was never a Virginia.
by Peggy McReynolds G2G6 Pilot (477k points)
I have had trouble all my life because John was a traditional boy name but they didn't want to mix me up with my father.  Until high school I was Chris (officially John Christopher). I went for 1 year to a British school where one had to sign everything with first 2 initials (no first name).  I kept the practice in Canada, so I became JC.  After high school I went back to Chris.  Hospitals, doctors, dentists, insurance companies, and anybody who has me on a list of some kind often still have me as John.  I have two sets of health charts at several hospitals and some I visited only once, have me as both.

My grave will say "on placebo", and the name will be Chris (I hope).

Don't go by gravestones.  My grandmother's has the wrong date.

The dustbin of history is crowded.  Probably no room for me.

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