Use of married name works against merge efforts

+3 votes
I'm working with another WikiTree'er trying to clean up the early Rice families of colonial Massachusetts.

Because of the lack of diversity in given names at that time, it's really important to be able to distinguish, for example, all the Elizabeths by their maiden name. But the way that they are presented on profile pages uses their married name. For example, Henry Rice's profile page [[Rice-53]] says:

Henry Rice is the father of Elizabeth Moore (using her married name).

The problem with this is that Elizabeth is also the name of the mother of John Moore who Elizabeth Rice married! Merging is difficult enough as it is, but having to also keep in mind married names and maiden names is making it more challenging.

I'm wondering if we can't reach a happy medium (since there seems to be a commitment to keeping married names displayed) to change the display to Given (Maiden) Married; e.g.,

Elizabeth (Rice) Moore

Certainly this could be possible, yes?


Thanks for considering this request.


in Genealogy Help by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (825k points)
edited by Jillaine Smith
Actually when using the maiden name it should always be in all caps per genealogy class that was offered at the library. example: Elizabeth (RICE) Moore. OK!
Actually, we don't use all caps names on WikiTree.
To Lianne's point, a lot of folks will capitalize all surnames, regardless of whther it is a maiden name or not.  The WikiTree standard of placing maiden names within parenteses reduces confusion.

Allen wrote:

The WikiTree standard of placing maiden names within parenteses reduces confusion

I have not seen this standard in practice. Where is this done?

I would really like to see this on the profile pages:

Henry Rice is the son of... Thomasine (Frost) Rice

Henry Rice is the spouse of... Elizabeth (Moore) Rice

Henry Rice is the father of... Elizabeth (Rice) Brewer



Actually, I have to say that I'm seeing inconsistency in presentation of women's names. Sometimes the maiden name is used; sometimes the married name.

Very confusing.
Hi Jillaine,

In the examples you give, I think the way it's presented now is an effort to show only the most useful information. For example, "Henry Rice is the son of Thomasine Frost" gives you the maiden name. All it doesn't tell you is whether or not she took her husband's name. Same with the spouse. "Henry Rice is the father of Elizabeth Brewer" gives you her married name; most likely her maiden name is Rice.

So those examples always give you the info that isn't easy to guess. I think that's the reason for this inconsistency.
Given that "most useful information" is going to be contextual for different situations, it seems most logical that a consistent presentation of all surnames would serve multiple purposes-- i.e., Elizabeth (Whale) Moore.
myself i prefer to use the maiden name for the women, it's better to try some duplicate man name with the same wife. I we pass over him, we have the woman to find it.


When i make a rechearch i use more the women name than the man name.

1 Answer

+2 votes

FWIW, you can see a summary explanation of the contextual name displays on pages such as which you can get to this from a little "view name displays" link near the top of the edit pages.

by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
> FWIW...

not much when I'm merging. no offense.
i just returned to this issue, and reviewed the link you shared above (contextual name displays).  I continue to find this wholly confusing and frustrating. And wish we could come to a better compromise that displays female names consistently, and includes maiden and married names of women, but does so in a way that people who follow standard genealogy practices will recognize (and accept) -- namely, in most display cases (including and especially search results of whatever search/merge tool):

IF female AND married, THEN

Given (Maiden) Married


Given Maiden

On a profile page, the upper left area would include all pieces of her name; nicknames would be in quotes, e.g.,

Jillaine "Jill" (Smith) Bogdonoff

(which is not actually accurate in my particular case because I did not take my husband's surname, but exceptions can be edited as appropriate)

The current policy completely confounds my merge efforts. And it's also turning off those of us following accepted genealogical practices and at least in one case has resulted in someone leaving wikitree.

As others have said, you otherwise have a really great thing going here, and I'm sure there are logs here that allow you to see how much time I've been spending on this site, but this one particular ding is pretty bad.
Hi Jillaine,

Maybe you could go through each individual context and write a separate G2G question for it? For example, you could ask "Should the way names appear on surname index pages be changed?"

Include in the body notes on how they currently appear and how you think they should appear, along with any pros and cons, links to style pages, other G2G discussions, examples, or whatever else you think is appropriate.

I can add my two cents and others can comment. Then a decision can be made, and whichever way it goes we'll have an explanation for future reference.


Trying to slow me down, eh, Chris? ;-)

Give the girl something to spend hours on; that will shut her up about this topic for awhile. ;-)

If doing what you suggest is really going to help you, I will do it because I feel strongly enough about it to invest the time into it. (But why one g2g topic each? What will that actually support?)

That said, my overall point is that there be consistency AND that it follow standard genealogical practice while at the same time allowing women's married names to appear in the display.

Is that naming conventions page the best place to get a list of all the "contexts"?
I'm not (just?) trying to slow you down, Jillaine. :-)

Seriously, you're recommending major changes to many pages that have been fairly stable for a long time. I don't doubt that improvements could be made. Other WikiTreers have asked for changes similar to what you're talking about. We just don't want to rush into anything.

It's good policy to make changes carefully and deliberately and in open consultation with as many stakeholders as possible.

What I would do, absent you do anything further, is to put a doing full review on my to-do list. (Actually, it's already on there. You don't want to see my to-do list.)

When I get around to it, I will do what I described in my last comment. I'll go through each context and write out the pros and cons for making a change. Then I'll bring in other WikiTreers to get their opinions.

If you want to speed things along ...


P.S. Yes, see the style pages. If style rules should be changed, they will be.

P.P.S. Don't forget that WikiTree isn't just for genealogy. It's for modern family history as well, and it's intended to be user-friendly for non-genealogists. That's one reason why we might sometimes deviate from "standard genealogical practice" in certain contexts. It needs to be considered in each decision.
P.P.P.S. When (if) you go through the different contexts, try to keep in mind that what you see often depends on the Privacy Level of the individual and whether you are on the Trusted List. You can see what can be shown with an individual on
(pursuing offline)

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