Using the Also Known As field (instead of parentheses, quotes, or slashes)

Started by Judith Ann Berlowitz on Friday, July 5, 2013


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7/5/2013 at 12:20 PM

I had been entering all kinds of spelling variants & nicknames in the Name fields of profiles. One reason was that often if a person's name was listed as "Moritz," for example, and I entered the name "Moric" in the search field, the profile wouldn't be found, so I entered both variants in the Name field. Then I got a reminder from researcher @Benjamin Schoenbrun, that these variants belonged in the Also Known As field. I was skeptical at first, but if I removed the "Moric" variant and saved it in the "AKA" field, I was able to locate the profile with either spelling. So I have been going through countless entries and moving variants and nicknames to the AKA field, which looks so much neater. I've also been doing it for profiles in more distant trees, though feeling a bit intrusive when doing it. If anyone objects to this, please let me know and I'll restrict myself to profiles closer to the main trunk of my tree.

7/5/2013 at 1:31 PM

It looks so much neater! :)

A reminder: those of who have purchased data subscriptions to My Heritage records, such as the US census from 1790-1940, will have difficulty with matches being served to the Geni profiles correctly if the Geni name fields aren't "clean."

The "also known as" field does very well in Geni search.

7/5/2013 at 3:27 PM

It does not matter what looks neater, but what is right. If the person yourself or the family write the name different (for example in obituary), then your solution is correct. But if the spelling changed in official documents, then is your solution not correct. In most cases, there are official changes! Correct is first write the oldest variant (mostly from birth book) and at the end the last variant (mostly from death book, or from the deportation list). For example: Moises/Moritz/Mořic (birth/marriage/death).

7/5/2013 at 3:31 PM

The name changes reveal something about the people and the society in which they lived. This should not be hidden!

Private User
7/6/2013 at 3:41 AM

I feel (could not prove it) that Geni "Match" engine does not search,
in the "Also Known As" field, and only the search engine uses it.
Is there somebody who knows the answer or knows whom to ask?

Private User
7/6/2013 at 3:58 AM

I just tested a search on "Haraldur Hálfdanarson" and it correctly found Harald I "Fairhair", king of Norway even if that name only exist in the "Also Known As" field. Got the same correct result on searching "Bill Clinton"

You should try to avoid just a nickname like Bill in that field, but spell the alternative name full out, "Bill Clinton" on William J. Clinton, 42nd President of the USA.

7/6/2013 at 6:28 AM

The "official" name is not necessarily known from a single document, although at times a name change may be noted on the document. This occurred in the case of someone called Herrmann, in other docuements Herschmann, and whose name was later declared "officially" (by the government in Prague) as Hermann . This was explained to me by @Hanus when I sent him a copy of the marginal note. But if the goal is to simply locate a profile, even if the main Name is listed as Hermann, as long as the other names are placed in the AKA field (without quotes, slashes, or parentheses), the search will be successful. We really don't need to write "Františka/Francisca/Franziska/Fanny/Fanni/Fani," along with a Hebrew name given in a naming ceremony, e.g. And then there are periods of nationalism, in which a child named Heinrich or Isaac/Isaak/Isak will be listed as Hynek, not to mention scribal errors and inconsistencies.

Another thought: if we want to follow the chronology suggested by @Hanus, and if there is an available copy of the published obituary, perhaps that should be the name placed in the Name field, with the caveat that it is usually the family who send the copy to the press.

Private User
7/6/2013 at 12:48 PM

I personally have an easier time using the AKA field instead of adding more first names because in my lineage (from the Plzen suburbs) people had a bad habit of making up new names as their first name, and subjecting the first name as a middle name sometimes.

Also, I feel a bit intrusive to add to people's first names where the profile manager is not part of this group, i.e., it is a personal tree.

I am flexible to do whatever the group wants with respect to the people I add or modify from Plzen. But, please leave my own family's first names the way they are and add any AKA's if you happen across my lineage. Thanks.

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