Not sure what to do regards LNAB for merge

+4 votes
What to do when the LNAB is shown on the BDM registration as one thing, but the family had always used a different presentation (from 1600s?); and later generations "adopted" (or simply allowed ennui to take over as it wasn't worth the fight with bureaucracy?) the registration name, but the guy so named used both versions, as did his father?

I have looked at the two profiles so often trying to decide which LNAB to use, or whether to go with yet another spelling.  (Sorry, don't have the profile ID in my head right now; am doing different family line and trying to find a newspaper ad from before 1956.)

ADVICE?  HELP?  Decide for me?!
WikiTree profile: Percy Fredrick Du Rietz
in Policy and Style by Melanie Paul G2G6 Pilot (367k points)
Melanie, if you look up the profile ID's and put them here then members who are research wizards will be able to collaborate on figuring out the correct LNAB.  Without that, there's no way for anyone to try to provide any meaningful advice about which LNAB to use.
I know what the registration says, but that doesn't go with what the father's name was/is.  I am running into a number of situations where the person scribing the name makes an error and that then carries on to today.  (I'm currently in communication with the Queensland BDM as a result of such a situation where the middle name and the last name are obviously miswritten (or mistyped by the person adding them to the online database).)

I'll go fetch the profile numbers, but I'm not sure that's going to answer my problem.
The two profiles are Du_Rietz-27 and DuRietz-40.  40 has the source for a spelling of Durietz, but when it was written in the family records I have, it said DuRietz.  However, I have come to believe that it should correctly be Du Rietz .. but the only documentation for that spelling is more family records.  I believe the Durietz and DuRietz spellings are due to the clerk writing down their own version of what they heard.  The father of Pierce aka Percy was Du Rietz and I can't believe he'd name his kids with a different name; but can see it as a clerical error.  I would actually prefer the Du Rietz spelling, but that's not what the birth registrations says.  Hence my dilemma.

(I've also, since asking this question, seen that I'm not the only one with the problem of clerical errors being what gets used forever afterwards.)
One of the (many) problems with WikiTree's use of "last name at birth" as the primary record identifier is that it perpetuates the myth of the One True Name.

No such thing exists.

When literacy was the exception rather than the rule, it was only the sound of a name that mattered -- and even that could vary based on dialect/accent.

We can't expect orthography to be immutable in languages that use the Latin alphabet. Most languages have many more sounds than Latin does; English for example uses about three times as many vowel sounds and about a quarter again as many consonants as Latin. This means that the Latin alphabet is woefully inadequate to the purpose of representing languages like English.

In some languages, people came to a mostly-agreed-upon set of workarounds, so that spelling is fairly regular (especially as compared to English), but even in those languages, names -- especially surnames -- often preserve or perpetuate older schools of thought, and show variation even into the 20th century. This was not considered a problem: what was written in the register had little or no bearing on people's day-to-day lives. It didn't matter one whit if the surname was spelled differently in different entries pertaining to the same family.

For WikiTree's LNAB field, I suggest using the spelling that you and other descendants are most likely to recognize and use. If the modern generations are particularly attached to a variant spelling, use that.

1 Answer

+4 votes

When a name morphs as Percy's did from one form on the birth registration to another later in life and/or on the death registration, I look carefully at all the records for the person, plus all the records I have from the parents, sbilings, and children.  From that comparison, I try to decide if the spelling on the birth record was a one time misspelling of the kind that these days I would consider a typo.  If, and only if, the spelling on the birth record is a one time obvious error, I will correct the spelling from the birth record and use the corrected spelling as the LNAB.

On the other hand, if the spelling on the birth record is one of several spelling variations for the name, and was not a one time use, I use the spelling on the birth record as the LNAB and put all the other spellings in Other Last Name.  This can lead to family members with different spellings for their LNAB, but as long as you put the other spellings in Other Last Name, any of the spellings will pull up the profile in a search.

Sometimes it is a case of the spelling morphing over a person's lifetime.  In that case, there really is a difference in the LNAB and the Current Last Name (the one the person died with).

I don't see much point in having separate fields for Last Name at Birth, Current Last Name (or last name at death) and Other Last Names unless we use them to match what is on the birth and death records.

That still leaves a conundrum when there is both a baptismal/christening record and a civil registration record for the birth and these two use different spellings for the surname.  Then I dig deeper for clues of what the family itself used.  For example, if I have the actual baptismal record image, I look to see who signed and how the family itself signed the name.  If there are no images and spellings are different, I tend to look at all the records I can find of the family at or near the time of a birth and see if one spelling predominates in that time period.

It can eventually get sort of subjective especially if you only have two records available and they differ.

No matter what the records say, I try to discuss all name variations and name spelling variations in the biography.
by Mary Jensen G2G6 Pilot (110k points)
But how can we tell if it's a clerical "error" and not the person morphing their name?  The family name since at least 1661 (according to family sources) is Du Rietz.

So - do we merge from 40 to 27, or 27 to 40?  What about the last name problem when neither of those profiles uses the one on his birth registration? Do we change one of them to the Durietz that is on the birth record as we can see just from the synopsis online and trust that that is an accurate rendering of the actual LN?  If I went with the "information" showing on some of my direct line, I'd have different spellings for each child, when I know those spellings are more likely the person writing what they think it is, or what they think they hear, when the family only ever used one spelling themselves.

I have a huge problem with not being able to actually sight the documents myself these days and, instead, needing to rely on whatever is available online.  At least back in the day (30-or-so years ago) I was able to view the information as available on microfiche, microfilm, or the actual documents (strictly controlled at the state archives) and I am still finding errors from what I have as direct from the microfiche/microfilm and what they have online today (I'm in communication with NSW and Qld regards this, as it is clearly an error by the transcriptionist/s).  Back in the day my mother and I purchased print-off copies of a large number of microfilm "panels" that show the information as originally written in the parish registers of the day (mid 1800s colonial NSW), so I can refer to those when doing that twiglet on my larger branch.

I have never done a merge before and I want to do it "right" (in part because I'm going to need to do, or participate in, another from the same family), but this LNAB thing is removing my enjoyment of joining this twig to the branch.  (I've resorted to dealing with a different "mess", more directly related to my own twig and suffering a different frustration.)

(I *think* I mention all the different spellings used on different documents in the bio of 40, but haven't included information on the father and the spelling of HIS name, even though that spelling is included in the listing.)

Do any of the documents you have found contain signatures?  A signature by a person is the clearest indication we ever have of what that person used as his last name.  A signature by a parent on a birth or baptismal record is the clearest indication we ever have of a child's last name at birth.

Lacking signatures, there is quite a bit of human judgment involved in determining whether something is a clerical error or morphing.

If the spelling is indeed changing with every child, that is  a pretty good indicator that it is the recorder and not the parent or child choosing the spelling.

As for the family going along, when it gets to the point where the spelling used by the recorders are consistent and there are not signatures using another spelling, then the spelling as changed.

But as long as the spellings remain variable and inconsistent, I don't think you can say a family has accepted a change.
I agree with Mary Jensen's post that the LNAB should be what's on the birth certificate unless there seems to be a one-time clerical error. In the case of President Ford for example, his birth name was Leslie Lynch King. The change to Gerald Rudolph Ford occurred after his stepfather adopted him. Some folks legally change their names as a result of some other choice (Ehrich Weiss to Harry Houdini). It can be important to trace these changes in following the genealogy lines.

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