For people that have two surnames on their birth certificate, what is the procedure to follow?

+6 votes
I was born in Mexico and we have two surnames on our birth certificates and any official document, mine are "Bueno" from my dad and "Ibarra" from my mom, but if I put them both on "surname" WikiTree suggests me to find people with the surname "Bueno Ibarra" but they each have their genealogy and I want to know about both. So, how's the procedure to add people with two surnames?
in WikiTree Help by Fernanda Bueno Ibarra G2G Crew (570 points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

I'm pretty sure this is a question that has rose up before now, and that there is a Help: page for it or that SOMEONE at WT knows EXACTLY how to get this done. 

I did a short search of "dual surnames mexico" but ... but I am certain this has happened before 

Some pointers were made in a 2013 posting 2g2 #55065 ( about how the mother's surname is first and then the father's along side other opinions about it 

Secondly, some advocate mother's surname_father's surname in the LNAB and you can try that underline between the two and see if it is accepted; you can try to hyphenate the two names if that underline is rejected; barring those two in the field that says OTHER LAST NAMES you can enter whichever surname you did NOT get to enter and it will show up in parenthesis if I understood what I saw ...; barring all that if you are getting WARNING sign try SAVE ANYWAY button 

Fernanda, when you have a few minutes of down time, read through the subtopics of the section of the Help file on Name Fields:

It won't resolve your issue, but it's very helpful toward understanding why this is not the simple, straightforward problem it seems like it should be on the surface.  For the time being, I think the way you handled it on your profile seems fine.

Welcome to G2G forum, Fernanda.

Susan. Is this the help page you were refering to?

In that help page, there is an example on how to handle a LNAB (Last Name at Birth) putting together two family names.

Maria Fernanda, as stated in the help page, this is a custom "in recent times" only. As soon as you go a few generations back (aprox. XIX century), you'll find that your Mexican ancestors were used to use their paternal last name without adding their maternal last name.

Frankly, whatever gets Fernanda past the obstacle in her path would be likely to help others facing the same sort of problem (Dual Surname) 

I suppose if the Suggestions about "fixing" a profile produces a quibble over a dual surname, she can click on "false suggestion"? 

The AMERICAN convention is one first name one middle name one surname but many nations have other ways and since I understand WT is attempting to become more Global in its purpose and is attempting to resolve the software to accommodate Global conventions, I believe eventually the difficulty will be resolved

As Ruben commented (if he had answered I would have selected it as best) you can find guidance here so far as Spanish naming conventions:

Even within Spain and all of her former colonies, it is done differently in each country.  The two most common ways would be to use:

"Bueno Ibarra" as a surname,


"Bueno y Ibarra" as a surname.

In the latter case it would URL as bueno_y_ibarra.

Until we can find someone with advanced degrees in mathematics and computer science to do the coding for dual surname data fields, it will just have to be a limitation we live with.

Eh, Reuben H., it is looking better for Fernanda's achievements-to-come 

I like the one Ibarra y Bueno (or Bueno y Ibarra) which would show up in the URL with the _ underline on either side of the 'y' ... but whatever will get her past the obstacles the Computer places in her path ... 

Why folk end up in a dispute with the Computer over a dual "first name" or "surname" when the Computer doesn't balk at 2, 3, 4+ "middle names" ... there was that Jose whose name was a very very long string of names (fascinating) posted in the last 30 days ... and I marveled it would "fit" the fields 

2 Answers

+11 votes
Best answer
Maria, the problem of WikiTree's inability to properly record names that don't match the standard pattern they started with is something that has been discussed here many times.  My impression is that everyone agrees that the way names are entered here simply has to change for WikiTree's credibility as the truly international website that they claim to be (and that all the members want this to be).

To their credit, management does agree that name conventions here are a problem, but it is a major one to correct and they have apparently not yet decided on the design solution that will best handle all the different conventions for all the countries and cultures from historical times to present.

Until the problem is resolved, the best you can do is to enter both of your surnames as your Last Name At Birth (LNAB) and don't worry about the suggestion to use them both when searching for family - just go ahead and use each one separately to do that and you can also enter each one separately in your tags (that's the list of names or places that you want to follow).

You can always ask here about pretty much anything - you will soon discover that you have just joined a very friendly community here - welcome to WikiTree!
by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (805k points)
selected by A. Ortega
Agreed. I believe this is how I've done it in the past. The way I understand it, the surname is the surname is the surname. Whether it's one name or a hundred (boy, would that be something!). But whatever the full surname is would just fit in the LNAB field.

crying Gaile, I tried, twice I gave you the gold star and twice someone has performed defenestration. 

awww, Susan, that was sweet of you - thank you - it's the thought that counts.  I think you've seen some of this kind of thing going on before, when I selected a best answer to a question that I had asked and someone else kept de-selecting it.  It's happened to a few other people, as well.  We apparently have some very childish members who set great store by gaining 5 minutes of fame and/or not caring what they have to do to win some kind of points games they play.

Heh heh, Gaile, I was defenestrated so many times I quite Answering and just went to Commenting. The Comment, anyone can ignore it, it's ONLY a Comment, like an IMO is. laughBut they can't take my gold crown away when it's a Comment.

I really enjoyed this discussion of dual surnames and how to cope with entering them into the LNAB and CLN -- it reminded me (somewhat) of the one on the dual first names which is the one that brought to my attention this Issue about dual names in a field

Makes me wonder about those hyphenated location names and location names which Burton on Riles-Hickington, (somewhere in mythical Great Britain) -- does Computer balk at those? 

Eventually, I am convinced the software will be adjusted. Especially since WT wants to be more Global 

I looked at the page SJ Baty posted for naming conventions and it was pretty well organized and clearly stated -- I really had not given that much thought to dual surnames before today -- don't think I've had to deal with any (yet - and hopefully never) 

Thank you so much Gaile for your answer, I'm starting to learn a lot of things, I have been member only for a days so I was still with a lot of questions.
+6 votes

Ruben is correct, in that a guidance page exists for these naming standards, as shown here:, which is linked to from the official Help pages. So according to this guidance, "Bueno Ibarra" would be the correct LNAB.

The search options on the other hand is another issue entirely, and while WikiTree does not have a native way of handling this through the surname links on the page, there are ways to do this through Google and WikiTree+ (which is like an extension of WikiTree managed by one of the Team members).

In WikiTree+, you just search for one of the parent surnames in question, such as Ibarra. This will return profiles like that of Jose Miguel Estanislao Alvarez e Ibarra (since Ibarra is present in the name fields).

by Steve Harris G2G6 Pilot (431k points)
Thank you so much for your answer Steven.

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