Priorities- Profile Cleanup - Removing Married Names

Started by Private on Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Profiles Mentioned:

Showing 1-30 of 135 posts
4/12/2011 at 1:06 AM

Following our success with previous 'priority projects' I would like to request all and sundry to participate and put some extra effort into removing all married names from deceased profiles of women in line with our profile suggestions in Stamouers/Progenitors in the next few weeks and at least until we have a cleaner tree..

Essentially the agreed approach in line with our standard geneaology is to record birth name or surname at birth only in both the 'Last Name' and 'Maiden Name' fields and to not record married name.


- Many more reasons, but essentially It makes things so much easier and it saves huge amounts of time and brings us in line with standard geneaolgy.


- There is one less name field to type on every profile. Being a computerised system there is little reason to add married names as the married name is displayed on every profile since all husbands are displayed. It is also possible to search partner names with the search engine. This also solves the issue to determine who was the 'last husband' and thus setting a wrong Last Name because people are unaware of a later husband.

- More accuracy and simplified maintenance in merging. Some may argue the point, but having done thousands of merges I can say with absolute certainty leaving out married names makes for more accuracy in merges and makes things so much easier. If you don't believe me, set up a little test for yourself and try doing merges with profiles by setting them up both ways.

- To avoid "edit wars". If half the users set profiles one way and the other half another, what is happening is that I fix profiles to set it my way and you come along and then fix it your way. In the end this costs us an incaculable amount of time editing these fields as we go along.

Why do this now?

One of the biggest issues is currently newbies and I have seen over time that they tend to take the lead from how others set up profiles. If we clean up the tree we will find less people using married names immediately.

What else to do.

If you notice newbies and new collaborators setting up their profiles with married names, please engage them and refer them to this project and discussion. That way we will get there so much quicker.

4/12/2011 at 1:51 AM

Are you Crazy?
Why you plan to "removing all married names from deceased profiles of women"?

From Genealogy point of view - all persons shall have been connected (in databases) to all their names they used during different periods of their life.

Discussions can be only how we describe all these names and how some fields for them will be named/renamed (negative discussions about "Maiden Name").

4/12/2011 at 2:28 AM

This maiden name issue is becoming a laugh, now we in now we don't. What is the issue, we need from the programmers and db managers what they can match, that is that both surnames is reqocnized.. It is SA law that a new surname is registered when getting married and a new id is issued. On any id there is not two surnames, in geneology we have to make space for both or even more if requuired.

4/12/2011 at 2:36 AM

Another issue that become a problem is the suffix that we use, the de Villiers/ Parma reference. Some people now have 20 digit suffixes which does not go down well. I suggest that we only use the last four or six digits (eg c6d1 or b2c6d1 ) in the suffix field for a profile. i find it very usefull to have this reference number, but not the whole 20 digit affair.

4/12/2011 at 2:53 AM

So South-African democracy is too good - everybody can have many totally different identities during life and they are not linked/connected at all (i.e. via kind of identity code/personal ID like in Denmark)?

4/12/2011 at 3:04 AM

NO nii mina olen vastu et neiupõlvenimed eraldada sest see on ikka tähtis nii meile kui ka meie lastele sest kunagi ei või iial teada kelle nime kunagi lapsed võtavad sest see ju toimib vähemalt meil siin oma esivanemate nimed muidu kaovad ja siis oleks ühelt maalt auk aga see viitab kui on kirjas ka neiupõlvenimi siis on ju kõik ju öeldud sellega
mis siis kui vägisi kipume teise sugu seltsi ega me siis süüdi ei ole kui võtame mehenime .

4/12/2011 at 3:33 AM

Luule Neemsalu (Tellinen) Please in English only here!
Nobody from South-Africa understands Estonian.
Question is not just in Maiden Names but in all previous (non-current) names...

4/12/2011 at 4:04 AM


No, certainly not crazy. And yes, that is exactly what we are doing.

This is only for South Africa, and is by common agreement to follow our geneaology standards. Show me one geneaology book reflecting with the married names of women and I will change my mind. Again, since we are in the computer age and if you look at any profile, you will see the men and their surnames/last names reflected on such profile. In essence entering a married name is additional effort for absolutely no reason.

If you look at our tree we already have a very clean tree and I'd say we have about 30% if not more of our profiles set this way. I'd try to make a calculation.

4/12/2011 at 4:07 AM

@ Lauri
The surname of the husband is assumed by the women when married, in SA law and the new Id issued. The topic is maiden names for women.

4/12/2011 at 4:27 AM

Willem, hope you are using the setting to switch of suffix when you browse..

Personally I think the numbering is only needed in the 1st 5 or 6 generations to avoid errors and this was the 1st idea and suggestion. I never thought it would explode the way it has, but then if people want to use it extended and make the effort, I think at least it will drive accuracy in the tree. I think we will soon be able to claim the most complete database from a geneaology perspective as a result....

4/12/2011 at 4:58 AM

Private@Mauritz, Is this thread relating to SA only? If so I think it really should be made clear in the title.

4/12/2011 at 5:25 AM

Actually Lauri, did some introspection... and yes, have to admit I'm crazy ;-) … But not for the reasons you suggest though...

Couple of thoughts I want to add, also for the understanding of others who may read this. You may want to browse around our tree and gain an understanding what we are doing. This is not a new initiative. We have been at it since roughly November and it makes a good case study for the greater Geni tree and keeps proving itself over and over as the way to go from my perspective. Here is a good place to start and see what we are doing and how it works:

Browse round this part of the tree to get an idea…

Referring also to the other maiden name discussions, I think it is a common cause and understanding that genealogy standards is the way to go simply because of the wisdom contained in these standards in working with data. Our suggestion is not to re-invent this wheel.

Also then from a genealogy and a usability (specifically merge and setting up profiles) perspective , I would argue that the best practice is to keep profiles as simple as possible. Recording the different names and spelling of a person through their lifetime is not a fully key genealogy objective in the basic fields used to record such a person, but let's for the sake of argument say, having a 'simple' commonly accepted and recognised name for every person is.

I guess this would be one of the key reasons for the approach by standard genealogy to generally use the 1st recorded name of any person to record them ..

Now, of course from a research perspective it is more that helpful and desirable to record every version of a name. 'About me' and 'Nickname or AKA' is currently the best places to do so in Geni. (In the Geni discussions there is a proposal to use the timeline or have a 'Name' timeline to also help with this objective. )

Now just to use a very basic simplistic South African example. Lets use Willem Schalk van der Merwe's wife from the link above as an example and let me suggest some fictitious names used for her through her lifetime..

Elsje Klutt
Elsjee Kloet
Elsjie Cloet
Elsie Cloete
Elsje van der Merwe
Elsie van Staden (when she married husband 2)
Elsie my Donder (when she married husband 3, a few years before her death)
Elsie Vergeetmynie (on her tombstone)

Something to keep in mind is that the common use of her 'birth name' is now Elsie Cloete and in the genealogy books she would be recorded as Elsie Cloete.

Imagine doing a merge if you had a field for each of these in a merge situation. It becomes very easy to see why it would not make sense to record each different name in a different field and for the same reason and consideration why it would make sense to keep and record only one last name, being Cloete.

4/12/2011 at 5:33 AM

Terry, I will keep in mind, but it is after all a discussion on the "South African Stamouers/Progenitors project." I will restart the discussion once the current threads dry up and make sure to make it clear in the title next time..


For guidance on your local trees, please refer to:

4/12/2011 at 8:45 PM

Whewwwwww as Angus wipes the sweat off his brow!!! lol

4/12/2011 at 9:38 PM

Rofl, I'm on my second box of wet wipes already...

4/12/2011 at 11:39 PM

I'm glad to report my direct lines are now 'Clean'....

How to best go about it?. (Here's hoping non Pro's can do this)


Follow the instructions in

The recommended approach is to first isolate profiles of your ancestors, then profiles you manage and lastly your tree if you have the enegery and patience. Use the filter to select only deceased women. Profiles can then be edited using "Quick edit" and "Save Changes"

PS.. Just a comment that in Name Preferences settings:

I have mine set to "Maiden name appended, in parentheses" which allows me to monitor on a continuous basis where someone added a married name, but also where males have a maide name that should be removed.

Happy cleaning..!

4/13/2011 at 12:18 AM

Mauritz - THIS IS NOT BY COMMON AGREEMENT OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN curators at all!!! You haven't spoken to the rest of us and it affects us all. I DO NOT AGREE with the removal of any data from the profile information.

It is bad historical practice to reduce available data, and it is also asking Geni users to go against Geni established practice!! Geni gives you the option to only view maiden names if you want to.

This is not cleaning up info, it is tantamount to vandalising it, and we South Africans share too many common ancestors for it to be polite or okay to make unilateral decisions to remove info from them without agreement from everyone who will be affected.

Please stop until there is common agreement, and inbox me asap if you want to continue this conversation privately.

4/13/2011 at 12:36 AM

Hi Sharon, I Prefer to take this offline with you, but this has been the recommendation on from the beginning. Even before there were curators

I have also requested feedback and discussion on this with many many people. I refer you to these discussions, but there are many more I could use where we came to the same conclusion:

I submit it is a matter of understanding. If you do not have the married name on a woman it does nothing to the quality and vaildity of your data.

We will take this offline..

4/13/2011 at 1:11 AM

Everyone, based on a discussion with Sharon, I will freeze this priority project of mine gladly. I find it a good indication on why Geni is so tough for everyone when people participate for instance on a project, but never read the project and just do their own thing regardless.

Please could everyone, take the time to read the recommendations on SV/PROG and let us discuss it properly. In the meantime it would be helpful for anyone who agree or disagree to simply state your preference here so we can get a measure of the support for or against the concept.

4/13/2011 at 1:54 AM

Just to add, that I will tonight do a screen dump analysis of this recommendation for everyone's information and understanding which we can use to further discuss and reflect on the way forward.

Private User
4/13/2011 at 2:54 AM

Mauritz I'm with you on this one. I belong to LDS Church and they only use Maiden names in the case of married women .

4/13/2011 at 4:01 AM

Nobody is opposing the use of maiden names.
In fact the groundswell of opinion (with which I am often recorded as being in agreement - & which my own profile name endorses!) is that the Maiden name should be the main & default surname for women.
It is the act of deliberately deleting married names as additional merge-profile data that is the problem.

4/13/2011 at 4:04 AM

Sorry to have deleted - I wanted to add an extra line into my message

4/13/2011 at 8:12 AM

Dear All

Find here comparison examples when using or not using married names. I hope it is readable in "Full Size"

Full size:

(If the link displays small… click to see in full size)

I re-iterate this has been my suggested approach only for the South African tree. I do think the examples make a good case for wider use in Geni, but as this discussion again shows, it's tough enough to get some consensus and agreement in our 'sub-tree' so I would prefer to address only our local conditions. I do still think I make a compelling case for the greater tree and as I have asked everyone else who raised this with me, I ask all participants to test and see for yourself. The key question I ask is what do we loose by not capturing them.

Again, any user who discussed this with me and went and did their own testing invariably came back with the same result..

The profiles I used for the screen dumps can be found here. Please feel free to test as you like and I will make sure they are set back to the right state in a few days.

Unknown Profile

Catharina Lubbe, b1c8

I believe the examples speak for themselves but essentially my basic argument to all the points are as follows:

1) I believe it is a stated Geni objective to be more genealogically accepted or relevant. Not using married names would be a good step in that direction. I do not have one publication on my shelf where this is done unless the name at birth is not known. I submit this is for good reason.
2) One argument on this is what if a women marries into her own family name? If the suggested standard is adhered to this is pretty simple as again as her parents are displayed on profile view. Where she has no parents this is easily indicated by a "NN" in the maiden name field. These are important details and should also ideally be recorded in 'About' me.
3) Some feel that something would be missing if married names are not captured on woman but as can be seen from the example, the husbands are displayed in all key views and capturing them again on a wife in fact simply means duplication both in tree and profile view. I cannot see that adding them in brings anything extra. Sure it's an aesthetic preference, but for me the tree is simply much cleaner without it in the first place. I trust the example shows this.
4) Capturing married names where more than one husband brings it's own unique challenges can be seen by the last two examples. Geni does not cater for this scenario and resultant it simply does not make sense to me to do so as it will also often compromise being able to see dates in tree view. Where a woman has 3 or 4 husbands the tree view becomes unreadable as we have experienced before. Example K already the dates are omitted.
5) Where the last married named is used, I would say from experience that most users do not have full resources at their disposal and often will not have the last married name. So what they often do if they use married names is set up as the last one they have. This becomes time consuming and problematic in the merge as one would always have to go back to the 'About me' or 'Relationships' to determine the correct last name and you can never be sure. Not using married names solves all of this.
6) One unmentioned key objective for all of us is surely to save ourselves and each other as much time as possible in setting up profiles or doing merges. This is the sole purpose of my recommendation. Being a human merge engine I want to save myself as much time as possible. We want to avoid edit wars and make things easier. Capturing one less surname on every woman and having to manage one less surname in the data conflicts for me makes the most compelling case not to use them. Again my argument here is simply, in every view the husbands and their surnames are displayed and capturing them becomes duplication and brings nothing extra that I can see? So, I would like to understand what we get by capturing them?

4/13/2011 at 8:58 AM

Good arguments!
In all fairness it must be stated
1. that if the female's "display name" is entered, it will show up in the merge screen as such regardles what last name you enter. ( not the case however in the profile view)
2. There is an option on the tree view to just reflect the maiden name.

Private User
4/13/2011 at 9:43 AM

I agree that women need to be known by their maiden names - I have always said this. That said - I do not go around being called June Buchanan - convention calls me June Barnes!!

I think, Mau, that what you are after in essence is a "clearer" less cluttered looking tree - mine is just that because of the choices i have made regarding display options/preferences. I am not entirely sure why this has become such an issue - the end result is the same, especially if you type in a display name.

Maybe what we need is a revamp of how the names are displayed on the profile box - I seem to recall many moons back asking for this - we have the choice of how to display names on the tree - why not have the same choice on the profile box? It is inconsistent to have the names displayed in one way on the tree but have no choice over how the names are displayed on the profile pages. My preference would be to have First name, Maiden Name (Married Name) if I could choose from a range of formats.

I think it calls for serious thought - urgency to be given to the a.k.a/nickname field - this needs to be on the basic edit page and be linked into other married names etc. There needs to be a field where as many separate "other names" as are needed can be added as standard, not on a separate page.

I have noticed that the other names no longer appear on the profile pages - although they do work in the searches: my grandmother was Catharina Wilhelmina Marais,
married Jansen van Rensburg -
known as Tina.
Her profile doesn't reflect the Tina but a search for Tina Marais finds her as does Tina Jansen van Rensburg.
Because I have her display name as Catharina Wilhelmina Marais that is how she appears in lists with the alternative name underneath. It works just fine - the only problem I see is the format of names on the profile pages.

4/13/2011 at 7:40 PM

It is going to be a long and time consuming job but I am well ito it now.

Private User
4/14/2011 at 12:08 AM

I agree with Junes advice as to how names should be displayed.

4/14/2011 at 12:50 AM

Norman, please stop until Geni makes a decision about this. The curators are having a discussion as we speak. You will, in many cases, be deleting other people's hard work - not your own. They are likely to consider this to be vandalism.

4/14/2011 at 1:27 AM

Here is the place to change your settings to only view the Maiden name:

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