Checkboxes for Unknown and None?

+18 votes

I suggest that the Last Name at Birth edit field have two checkboxes added: Unknown and None (did not have a Last Name at Birth).

This would make it easier to enter the correct information (i.e. either the individual had an unknown last name, or did not have a last name) and it would make standardization easier (Unknown instead of unknown, tbd, not known, and many other incorrect entries.)

Edit:  I have to say, I like the idea to change the title Last Name at Birth to Family Name at Birth (mentioned below).  

in WikiTree Tech by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (650k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
If you're going to do that, please also stop calling it a "last name". It's not necessarily last.
Agreed. Some cultures put the family name first. Such as Hungary and China.

Family name would be the most correct term to use.
I think providing a way to standardize an "Unknown" last name is great.    But it should be stressed that this should only been done after an exhaustive effort has been made to find the last name.
Kitty, I'd recommend adding the tag Improvements to your post so that more people are alerted and can comment.
I would have said that "surname" as a replacement for "last name" would be the better choice, but on reflection, "family name" is probably the best -- and most proper for genealogy, where we are, after all, concerned with families.

Surnames were often acquired AFTER a person was born, i.e. John the Smith, John the Butcher, so they might figure under "current name" but not "name at birth."  Except when the surname then became the family name for subsequent generations.

Family name also can include names which were not really "last names at birth" but an appropriate way to identify someone, such as the current LNABs we've assigned to many very early profiles.
The one problem with using "family name" instead of "surname" as a replacement for the current "last name" is that "family" and "first" both start with F, so the WikiTree penchant for initialisms could result in some confusion. :-)

There's also "byname" as an option, which would be especially appropriate for early profiles, but I fear it would be too confusing for the non-onomastician genealogists among us.

2 Answers

+16 votes
Best answer
Well said Kitty, I must agree with you on this one. It would allow one to add a Spouse which one can do unless you know the maiden name, so one could add the spouse's of their ancestors and select unknown until determined by further research. Awesome!
by Shaun Doust G2G6 Pilot (359k points)
selected by Susan Laursen
+17 votes
Excellent idea. Would go a long way to eliminating all the variations on unknown last name, such as LNU and ---
by Dave Rutherford G2G6 Pilot (130k points)

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