Proposed Rules - No.2 - The maiden name ...

Started by Brendan Swemmer on Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Profiles Mentioned:

Showing 1-30 of 222 posts
12/29/2010 at 1:11 AM

2. The maiden name should only be used in periods in which it existed.

Could the person who is proposing this rule please explain their motivation/reasoning? I have set my preferences to diisplay the maiden name in brackets as I find it very useful in distinguishing between people with the same first and surnames who don't have middle names and its easier to see at a glance from which branch they are from.

12/29/2010 at 7:53 AM

I agree, Brendan, but I think there are periods in history where there was only one name, though.
I think there should be a field for 'birth surname' and for 'spouse's birth surname' for all profiles, to fill in if we have them.

12/29/2010 at 8:47 AM

One thing we need to keep in mind.

For our "coalition," let's work with the **existing** fields ... not those we wish Geni had.

With that in mind, how is maiden name best filled in?

I set my display preferences as Brendan does (i.e., maiden name appended in parantheses).

If there isn't a maiden name displayed then, I draw several conclusions:

1. It's a man and therefore he doesn't have one
2. Maiden name is same as last name (man or woman)
3. It's a woman and her maiden name is not known, therefore left unfilled in (which I find very useful information)

12/29/2010 at 8:56 AM

Agreed, erica

12/30/2010 at 2:45 AM

I agree as well only when I know for sure the person is a woman I put NN in the maiden name field, as per Geni procedure, i.e. using 'NN' in place of 'unknown'.

1/4/2011 at 7:44 PM

I find NN quite confusing to be honest and prefer "unknown" ... but am happiest with <field left blank> if there is no information.

1/4/2011 at 8:43 PM

I use the maiden name as birth name if known. I don't know what the opposition to maiden names is about. Genealogy is not supposed to be politically correct. Whether you call it a maiden name or birth name, it is a searchable name field. If no name is known leave it blank. If you want to show what you want, use the display field.

1/4/2011 at 11:59 PM

I don't use the maiden name field for the maiden name, only in one kind of situation. I treat the mentioning of the surname of a woman the same like a man. If I want the mans name to the wife I display that in the showed name field as a combination mans surname=wifes surname. I have one exception: in medieval often there are in nobility no surnames but area names, in that case I use for the woman the area of the father in the maidenname field. It should be good to introduce a clan name just as Rodovid is using. Then we have also solved the problem of changed surnames.

1/5/2011 at 12:13 AM


Can you write that out as a "naming convention" ?


First Name
Middle Name
Last Name
Display Name
Maiden Name
Birth Name

1/5/2011 at 12:22 AM

Hmm, I suppose the only real problem is with the possibility of creating an erroneous assumption that a woman was never married if the maiden name and surname field are the same, in cases where she actually was married. (And finding her husband might help identify her in a search.)
This could lead to mis-merges and duplicate profiles if someone else fills that person in as married.
I suppose, though, given that the husband's profile should be there too, it's quite a small chance

1/5/2011 at 12:26 AM

Well, I think we need to stick with:

1. What is used now for the living (i.e., many women keep their names for life these days)
2. What is historically accurate (women in Scandinavian countries didn't change their names)

Remember that text will soon be searchable. And in any event the living know who they are and are less problematic. :}

1/5/2011 at 12:38 AM

In the Netherlands were in the passed two kind of surnames. First the patronym: the name of the father followed by son or daughter and the second surname: the familyname, the same person sometimes used the first surname and other times the second, so there official documents with different surnames of the same person.. After 1800 everybody has an official surname and the patronym mostly but not always disappeared.

1/5/2011 at 12:39 AM

I think that the naming convention has to include different rules for different periods and different area.

1/5/2011 at 12:46 AM

Yes, that makes sense.

It sounds like you're familiar with Dutch. Would you be able to do Naming Conventions and Practices for Dutch, historically and currently (defining the years)?

While you're at it I need to know when Holland changed to The Netherlands. :)

1/5/2011 at 12:48 AM

Also, if you happen to know or can find out how Dutch emigres handled naming in other countries. I know that Norwegians maintained their standard Norwegian naming practices in the US for quite some time, for instance -- but I'm unclear how early Dutch settlers handled theirs in America.

Private User
1/5/2011 at 8:21 PM

Except under Napoleon, Holland was always a component of the Netherlands:

For the Burgundian period:

the County of Artois
the County of Flanders, including the burgraviates of Lille, Douai, Orchies, the Lordship of Tournai and the Tournaisis
the Lordship of Mechelen
the County of Namur
the County of Hainaut
the County of Zeeland
the County of Holland
the Duchy of Brabant, including the Margraviate of Antwerp, the counties of Leuven and of Brussels, and the advocacy of the Abbey of Nivelles and of Gembloux
the Duchy of Limburg, including the counties of Dalhem and Valkenburg and the Lordship of Herzogenrath
the Duchy of Luxembourg
the Prince-Bishopric, later Lordship of Utrecht
the Lordship of Frisia
the Duchy of Guelders and the County of Zutphen
the Lordships of Groningen
the Ommelanden
the Lordship of Drenthe, Lingen, Wedde, and Westerwolde
the Lordship of Overijssel

For the Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden:

The provinces of the republic were, in official feudal order: the duchy of Guelders (Gelre in Dutch), the counties of Holland and Zeeland, the former bishopric of Utrecht, the lordship of Overijssel, and the free (i.e. never feudalised) provinces of Friesland and Groningen. In fact there was an eighth province, the lordship of Drenthe, but this area was so poor it was exempt from paying confederal taxes and, as a corollary, was denied representation in the States-General.

For a complete overview:

1/5/2011 at 10:28 PM

So the proper name is The Netherlands all through history?

OK we need a geography section on the Community Wiki.

1/6/2011 at 12:17 AM

Why should we invent the wheel, it is already invented ! Look to other genealogy sites like WeRelate, Rodovid, official governmentsites how they handle names and stop with the idiotery of giving a woman the name of their temporary husband. wifes have their own name or they miss a surname, so what ? cancel the field maiden name and use this as alternate name ! do you want the husbandsname use thwere fore the field shown name !

1/6/2011 at 1:29 AM

FRED BERGMAN it is up to you, will you use maiden names field or not.
During centuries at least in Christian community there have been in many countries this husbands surname taking tradition. I know that in many cases this name was very temporary...
"cancel the field maiden name" - I disagree.
We shall have possibility to chose which names we will enter to the profile, and maiden name shall be one of them. I will be happy if there will be additional fields for additional names (for example different "temporary" surnames for some ladies who had 3+ husbands and always changed surnames) etc. + User shall be able to define such name field type and how/when to display it.

1/6/2011 at 1:34 AM

Geni has to decide to be a genealogic site or a popular social network site. A genealogical site has only one surname for the woman: the surname by birth. Want GHeni to be both then can that be realised by adding extra name fields

Leo Bijl
1/6/2011 at 1:56 AM

I have NEVER in my life seen any genealogical publication anywhere which entered women under any other name than their own. In a traditional pedigree it would be totally against the system as it was laid down by Kekulé von Stradonitz and the result would be totally confusing.

Private User
1/6/2011 at 3:41 AM

I fully agree with you.
It would be almost imposible and confusing without maiden and married name for me, as often (in church books) maiden name is not even mentioned.
Those that do not like it can set their display to the option 'shwo maiden name' and the problem is solved.

Private User
1/6/2011 at 4:31 AM

Maiden Name as a birth surname is definitely needed, but it should be re-labeled and made available for all genders.

Private User
1/6/2011 at 4:41 AM

@Fred: "I think that the naming convention has to include different rules for different periods and different area."

In my opinion you have only one important rule: Do not fabricate facts

Making rules based on periods and areas will usually just result in fabricating facts like for example a married name without even having evidence that it was a marriage and she used her husbands name.

I do however use time period an location rules to disapprove such fabricated facts, like Scandinavian women with a male patronymic name (-son/-sen/-søn) before ca 1850 (1923 in Norway).

1/6/2011 at 6:48 AM

Luckily Geni is a database and with the ability to select the view and create (Bjorn, hopefully something you're working on?) traditional pedigree display reports.

Geni has said they will add a "birth name" field to the database. I have tried to point out that birth name is NOT the same as maiden name in English.

I need to point out for hopefully the last time that the laws and customs in the United States (and indeed other countries) is for a woman to assume her husband's last name as hers at marriage event. Therefore the correct assumption in American genealogy is that her surname is her husband's.

The convention I've decided to use for my 400 years of American ancestry is this:

for a woman:

Maiden name (father's surname)
(Birth name to come for my immigrant ancestors)
Last name is name at death (usually verified and documented by Social Security Death Index name or tombstone)

Relabeling maiden name to birth name will not work for my ancestors. Creating a new field will.

I meet the laws and customs here of the US with this convention. I do not violate any genealogical principle as we all can select our individual views. There do not as yet exist in Geni pedigree reports so I guess it is not yet a genealogy program, correct. The rules for databasing however imply that fields are filled out as labeled, not worked around.

I invite those from all countries to please list out and validate if necessary the laws and customs for their countries and get them going on the Wiki by historical period. This is my proposal for Americans and I trust it will be respected, as I respect the information provided by others.

1/6/2011 at 7:19 AM

to make the chaos complete: in the netherlands any marriaged person can choose the surname of the partner. the man and wife can choose to continue with the surname of the wife, and then making it complete: the surnames of the children can change for any child, par example the first the surname of the wife, the third of the man, any choise is allowed.
By the way: most users here never read the rules and do what they tink is correct and it must be admitted most users don't care real genealogy and are happy relaxing with a lot of mistakes............

1/6/2011 at 7:23 AM


Unfortunately it would be a mistake to enter my American ancestresses as you suggest. Sorry!

Living is actually easier because we can just ask them. :)

Private User
1/6/2011 at 1:36 PM

Erica, - You should not assume, you should know (to quote Remi). ;-)

Private User
1/6/2011 at 2:40 PM

Fred states one very good reason why a maiden name is needed for a man in certain cases. I have no problem with the man taking his wife's surname, and recording it on the tree that way. I've done it for a couple European ancestors where the title (and money) went with the name, so the husband took his wife's surname. Does it matter what the label is- birth name, maiden name- as long as all users know what it means? We need a Geni glossary.

1/8/2011 at 8:56 AM

I've generally stayed out of this debate since it's been going round and round here and on other discussion threads for months, with the same people making the same arguments.

I agree that we cannot be taken seriously by the genealogical community unless we follow genealogical standards.

A woman's (or a man's) birth name should be entered as their primary name. The marriages will show the spouses' names--those do not need to be included in the profile.

I think what we need to satisfy those like Erica who want the option to show a woman's married name is to change the default form for Geni so that we have the birth/"maiden" name as the primary one, and then a field (that can be repeated multiple times) with "Also known as" which allows for all the variations of married or changed names. These should all be include in Geni searches. One of those fields might be called "Married name(s)" and then there could be an option to display married name in the display mode for those who choose it.

But married name should *not* be the default or primary one, and "maiden" name should be changed to birth name and should NOT be hidden for men.

A personal anecdote. I am an American woman, born in 1957. My "maiden" name is Wilson. I have been married twice, once to Smith and once to Boggess. I have NEVER been known as Pam Smith or Pam Boggess. I have ALWAYS been known as Pam Wilson. I have NEVER been Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Boggess. And I would take offense if anyone listed me as such in a genealogy program.

Showing 1-30 of 222 posts

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