Spelling of Given and LNAB

+2 votes
72 views
During my research, I have discovered a lot of scribes for churches are notoriously bad spellers. My question is this: when adding a given and/or last name at birth and you know the common surname, do you use the misspelled names on the original church registers or do you add the name(s) you know them to be. I am finding in Europe and here in the Early USA, a lot of people were not afforded the luxury of attending school or going onto higher learning. These misspelled names make it difficult to find records or other online trees. What is your take on this?
in Policy and Style by Lori Harlan G2G6 (9.3k points)
edited by Lori Harlan

3 Answers

+3 votes
 
Best answer
Well, I say "Yes, that's true" to all of the above observations, which probably still leaves you scratching your head.  As you say Lori (and as noted in G2G comments before), literacy is a relatively recent phenomenon, and we encounter spellings that are all over the board.  So there really is a judgment call involved in these decisions.  But I just want to throw in two additional points:

1)  The "scribe" for those old church records was usually the minister.  You have no way of knowing his education, and I have seen a couple of reports saying they would often wait until the end of the week or the end of the month to update their records, and do it from memory.  So their recollection of events and names is what you got.

2)  Another factor may be whether you are looking at an original handwritten record or somebody else's transcription of such a record.  There have been many cases where different people looking at sometimes poor copies of old cursive handwriting come up with different spellings.

I do think you should include any alternative spellings of names you find in either the Other Names field or in the Bio, and if you think it's appropriate, explain why you chose the spelling you chose.
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (249k points)
selected by Lori Harlan
Well that is sure true, I have for some reason two marriage record images on Family search for my great great grandfather - his wife is miss spelled two different ways in each!
I have a couple of instances where the transcriber couldn't decide if the husband was the wife or the reverse.  I think there were four variations of the one marriage .. then there were the kids. (Italian name.)
I can understand your points of view, I guess what I am having trouble with is in the creation of profiles. If I create one with a specific name and there is a duplicate profile of the same person but under a name spelled differently, it can create duplicate profiles. Since I abhor duplicates, I am not as confident in creating a profile on an online site. On my own trees I have uniform profiles in my software programs. It makes it easier to organize my indices and find duplicates.
You can search using all possible spellings.  Clunky, I know, but if there is a possible existing profile, that should find it.
Yes, that is a potential problem.  But actually the search function often does come up with some possibilities having alternate spellings or similar sounding names.  When I search the site data base for my own name, for example, I get 32 hits, only 4 of which are actually Dennis Bartons.  But, like everything else, it's not foolproof and can often miss.  And you can't always anticipate all the possible misspellings that might exist.  (As soon as you think you have a full list, a census enumerator will invent a new one and prove you wrong!)
I was lucky that I was good at guessing what the names could have changed from - if I had not have been I would not have got very far - to me it is essential to use the spelling that was used and then my tree has the progression of the name through time - and you could (I know I do) have cousins that have one of all those alternate spellings !
+2 votes

From comments in the G2G Forum about where an event occurred that state one uses the locale "at the time the event occurred" rather than any later legal adjustment through re-drawing of boundaries, I myself my opinion only would suggest that any of the variations in the SPELLLING of the name are made a note of in the Biographical section. 

WHICH name you actually chose as to spelling would depend upon the one most used by the person you are profiling. BUT THAT is my opinion. 

I have seen various researchers make those notes. All too often the surname is spelled differently on the marriage license, the marriage record, in the birth record / baptismal / christening certificate, in legal documents, and so forth, as you have noted yourself. 

For instance I've seen Speer, Spier, Spear, Spears and have no idea which is "correct" but I went by the records, making note of the variations. The one I picked to use as the LNAB was the one most often cited (spelled out). 

HOWEVER, someone else there at WT may have a more informed idea or procedure.

by Susan Smith G2G6 Mach 4 (40.9k points)
+2 votes
Last Name at birth is just that - and if a church record has it a way you are not familiar with =- that is the way it was when they were born- we use that and if there is another spelling on later documentation we use that in perfered
by Navarro Mariott G2G6 Mach 9 (93.2k points)

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