Started by Private User on Sunday, August 21, 2011


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Private User
8/21/2011 at 5:19 PM

Agree about sources, Erica. I need time to go back to the original couple thousand profiles I entered before the current source wizard was introduced and add the sources. Some are referenced in the overview and some are docs on my hard drive, but I would love to have a "do-over" for my beginning months.

8/21/2011 at 5:27 PM

Oh, my dear, here's a lot of "genealogical convenience", "genealogical convention", genealogists, genealogically and "genealogy source".

As one of the genealogists among us let me just remind you all that a name may have the parts "first name", "middle name", patronymicon and/or "last name" (surname) and the genealogists prefer to use the names at birth. So Henry VIII would not have VIII, in my database, in his main name, since he is not born as the 8th king of England withthe name of Henry. That ordinal he got later in life, and would and should be among his alternate names.

And I object to anything but name at birth/baptism in a persons first, middle and last name fields. Any other name in these fields is to me an abuse.

And if you need to use names other than names at birth, please don't abuse the first, middle and last name fields. Use Display name since the main name fields should be used for names at birth.

I get mad when I see a name used in a first, middle or last name field which is not a name at birth. And the reason is for databasing and for search.

And the main names should always be written in the native language where the person was born, if possible.

8/21/2011 at 6:09 PM

Joy in the morning! Remi and I agree. <faints>

Except on the listing my grandmother in Cyrillic part. Although if you want to be hired to go to Odessa and figure out how the name was spelled and retrieve a hard copy from any archive that might have survived World War ll and the Soviet regime, my cousins and I might talk about it.

8/21/2011 at 6:47 PM

Remi - You and I have a long-standing disagreement about birth names. No dispute about whether that is the "convention" but a dispute about whether it *should* be the convention.

Still, you and I end up with the same result on this issue. That's a good feeling ;)

I'm curious what you would do with Henry VIII?

- Henry, Prince of England and France?

- Henry, Prince of England?

- Henry of England?

And what about the Plantagenets, when the title Lord was used for babies instead of Prince? Would Edward V be Lord Edward of England and France? Lord Edward of York? With alternative names Edward, Prince of Wales; and Edward V, King of England & France?

8/21/2011 at 7:00 PM

Was the title on the baptismal certificate? I think that answers the question. :)

Private User
8/22/2011 at 2:07 AM

Even IF we did take the ordinal out of the name fields, we couldn't take it out the display name field. That would be disastrous for disambiguation. Who's going to recognize Henry VIII without his ordinal? The problem with the display name though is it isn't visible everywhere so it tends to defeat the purpose.

Private User
8/22/2011 at 3:23 AM

Or should I say, undermine its usefulness.

8/22/2011 at 6:27 AM

Justin, that is for me very easy. Since Henry VIII is a son of Henry VII, and Henry VII was born as Henry Tudor, and Henry VIII had at least two sisters with the name Tudor, I would, in my database, write his name as Henry Henryson Tudor and then under Title I would write all his titles and timeperiods for them, and I could write his other names under Alternate names. That would work perfectly for me, but may be not for others.

Edward IV, would be Edward Richardson of York, or Edward Richardson Plantagenet, and his son, Edward V, would be Edward Edwardson Plantagenet or Erward Edwardson of York, since Edward IV was not the king of England when Edward V was born. Plantagenet is probably more correct since the dukeship of York was merged with the crown in 1461.

8/22/2011 at 6:51 AM

I dont think Henryson is appropriate English (or French) and patronymics were not part of the name in Tudor era English. Otherwise your logic is sensible.

Victar where doesn't the Display Name show? And what about the nicknames field?

8/22/2011 at 9:06 AM

Remi, I don't fully understand your position.

By law and custom, kings and members of the royal family have a dynastic name, but no surname. Perhaps you are saying the distinction is academic, so we should ignore it. If that's your argument, I disagree but I can see why it might be attractive.

I got a good chuckle out of Erica's comment that we should look at Henry VIII's baptismal certificate. Her comment was certainly tongue in cheek, since Henry VIII is the one who ordered baptismal records to be kept. It's unlikely he had one himself.

We know enough about medieval baptismal customs to know that Henry, at his baptism, would have been named as Prince Henry, or Henry, Prince of England and France. In English law of his time, the surname could be changed, but the baptismal name could not. He would not have been baptized with the name Henry Tudor!

It gives me a little bit of grief to think of Henry VIII losing the closest thing he had to a surname (of England) and ending up with a surname that is not supported by contemporary sources. But, maybe that's easiest for genealogists. If that's what we're choosing, I'll go along.

I think similar logic would push for the surname Plantagenet for the descendants of Edward IV's father - since he was the first to use it as a surname. I don't like it - it's the same kind of confusion between surname and dynastic name - but I can see why it would be "easier".

I hope we'll be careful about applying the name Plantagenet to the whole dynasty. Wikipedia says,

"Since the 15th century, Plantagenet has been applied retrospectively to the descendants of Geoffrey of Anjou as their surname. There is barely[1] any contemporary evidence for the name before the mid fifteenth century, and the house itself used no surname until the legitimist claimant Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, father of both Edward IV and Richard III, assumed the name about 1448."

The John Plant article cited by Wikipedia is very interesting. I used to have easy access to the Nomina journal, and always read every article with great interest. The Plant article is available in pdf format, from the Wikipedia link, if anyone is interested.

Large swathes of the medieval tree use an interesting convention for royal names. The territorial name (of England) goes in the surname field, and the dynastic name (Tudor) goes in the maiden name field. I don't know who came up with that idea. It looks odd when you're entering the data, but it displays very nicely and intuitively.

8/22/2011 at 12:49 PM

This is a great discussion guys. Can you include too, in your thoughts, the extra factor of PRO users and what system is likely to produce the fewest no of mismerges without resorting to locking profiles.

I'm busy doing housekeeping on the lines of Charlemagne's partners and children - which, surprisingly enough, has maintained itself pretty intact for about a year now (without much locking :-) - but as I'm reading this discussion and how mad you all get at name field usage, my heart sinks that there is no way to please all of you in doing it.

I will keep looking in here to check for insights - and am open to joining a discussion specifically about how people want Charlemagne's immediate lines name fields to look, in case anyone is feeling especially mad at something I'm doing.

8/22/2011 at 1:48 PM

I am really enjoying the ability to lock fields individually based on uploaded documents that prove the case for the decision. With the also known as field available and a discussion box from any profile, plus an ability to contact curators / managers, and / or discuss within a Project, I think we have tools to prove decisions arrived at, for each and every profile, and avoid edit wars.

8/22/2011 at 4:02 PM

I know that adding a patronym in a persons name can be seen as a construction, and in a lot of cases it probably is, because the person was not baptized with the patronym, but the same person was not baptized with anything else than his first and maybe his middle names. No patronyms and no Last names, as it is today. I use patronyms in my personal database to distinguish between people in the same family with the same name, but are generations apart, or children belonging to different siblings.

The kings and queens are always a problem since they do not really have a Last name. But we have to construct some form of Last name fort them. Henry VIII cannot only be named Henry VIII, since VIII is not a part of his name, it's an ordinal showing he was the eight king of England with the first name of Henry. So what Last names should we use for the kings and queens?

In this exercise I would like to use Edward V, King of England, son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.

The person later called Edward V was born Nov. 2nd 1470. His father had been known as Edward IV of England until Oct. 3rd 1470 and he didn't get his kingship back before April 11th 1471. Which meens that his son Edward is not a Prince when he is born, and his father is practically only an ex-king. So what other names than Edward should we use on him at his birth/baptism? He is not a Prince, since his father is not a king. He is not "of York" since that title was merged with the crown in 1461. His grandfather, Richard, used the name Plantagenet, is that a Last name we can use on Edward (1470-1483)? Edward was known as Edward V for 2 1/2 month, he was Edward "something else" the previously 12 years. Why should an ordinal he had for 2 1/2 month make presedence over the name(s) he had/used the 12 years before? And, if he had several different names during the 13 years he lived, which one should be the most important? The last? The one he used the most? The one we in later times think he used the most? The most common in the contemporary sources we have? The one he got when he was born? And we have to ask ourselves, under what names would he be searched for? To me that would be the name his was born/baptized with and the name he is most known by, both of these should be in his profile, but I would always in these cases use the name at birth as his main name and most known by as his alternate name. Both would be searchable, and name at birth would be his main name, as it should be.

Justin, I'm not a historian, so you can this history better than me, I'm only a norwegian genalogist with some experience. And I know by experience that main names should be written the way the names was most recognizable by other family researchers. And there are only two ways of doing that. We need a main name and one or more alternate names, all searchable in the database-structure. The names should be "name at birth" and the name(s) the person was most known by. The name at birth is always the same and if known, shouldn't be hard to search for. The most known name(s) are alle the other names that person has been called.

This is the way it is done in most family history (genealogical) software, and this is the way it should be done on Geni (and all other online family history software)

8/22/2011 at 5:26 PM


That is an interesting case, I'm glad you brought it up. It would be an exercise for me as I'm not that interested in Royalty.

I really like the idea of alternate names on a timeline and hope that geni develops to that point. But I also want to give some credit to the elegance of the solutions come up with by curators. We serve many masters and its not easy to balance.

In my newsfeed was a

8/22/2011 at 5:29 PM

Sorry, went to retrieve the link.

As always anyone who would like to, feel free to take over curating.

I like the way the names and display look in this profile, mostly thanks to Fred Bergman, I believe.

Richard Lee, Esq., of Langley

I'll leave it to someone else to vet the accuracy of the name. :)

8/22/2011 at 5:30 PM

Wrong link

This one is my 21st great grandfather

William III, count of Holland

8/22/2011 at 6:59 PM

I don't feel like taking over curating, Erica. But at a quick glance I can see a lot of the same persons written in different ways around William, so why don't you clean it up?

Private User
8/22/2011 at 7:29 PM

I'm still anti using the display name exclusively for English but that's another topic for another discussion.

8/22/2011 at 7:53 PM

Victar do start another discussion, but it would be nice to know what our audience is and needs.

I'm still waiting for someone to dare making my ancestors unreadable to me. That's the day I find another site. :)

8/22/2011 at 8:59 PM


I love questions like this one, because they let us play with standards and test the limits.

You already know that I'm not a fan of trying to fit royal names and titles into First Name, Last Name, Suffix - but that's the design we have to work with for now.

I said to another curator tonight that the reason Guillaume III, Count of Hainault looks right is because it IS right. It's trying to fit it into the database that makes us all nuts ;)

I'm not sure we get as far with Edward V as it first seems we could. He was born after his father had been deposed, but it's easy to argue that his father was a king in exile, not an ex-king. As far as I know, Edward IV was only crowned once, he never abdicated, and even in exile he was accorded his titles by his allies. As you know, medieval law had a problem figuring out what to do with deposed monarchs. Because they had been consecrated, they were still in some sense kings and it was a particular sin to kill them.

So, I think with Edward V, his birth name could easily be Edward of England and France. Henry VI probably called him something else. We could guess Plantagenet or York, but I'd venture a guess that if there are surviving household accounts he was probably something ambiguous like Lord Edward.

If you wanted to make a case for Plantagenet or York, you could argue that under the law of the land his name would have been whatever Henry VI said it was,, regardless of what Edward's parents thought ;)

I think this exercise shows how important it is that the curators understand the language, the customs and the laws of the times, and be able to explain how they settled on the name.

In the absence of specific information, I think a good default rule would be First Name without an ordinal, nickname or patronymic in the middle name field, an appropriate toponym for the Last Name (even though it might be arguably "artificial"), an ordinal in the Suffix only if it was part of the birth name, then use the Display Name for the full First Name, Ordinal, Title.

8/23/2011 at 10:00 AM

I'm not really getting involved with this discussion but wonder if you'd noticed that there is now an 'Also known as' field? so no need to use middle name for this anymore?

8/23/2011 at 12:35 PM

I agree with much of what you are saying, Justin. But to me it's a lot easier to stick with what I'm used to, using name at birth, than trying to find out which name I should use for this and that person. Some people changed a lot of names and titles during their life, specially the nobles.

The kings, queens, princes and princesses are difficult because they commonly never used Last names, and that is making a problem in our genealogy. In Norway our king uses the "Last name" Rex, but he didn't use that name before he became king. And it's a commonly used "Last name" for kings nowadays, so that will not work in our genealogy either.

8/24/2011 at 1:34 AM

Terry, - I like the Also Known As Field too, but am not sure if it shows up when merging (unless you open the profile), so am hesitating to use it in place of the middle as alternative name field. Have you figured it out yet?

Victar - I began deferring to English display names because of something you said in our last discussion on Charlemagne. Oh no!! :-)

8/25/2011 at 8:56 AM

Sharon Lee Doubell@Sharon, I suspect you are correct the AKA names don't seem to loom very large so far.

I know you are all going to throw up your arms in disgust but I was recently trying to untie an un unholy knot of de Bohuns. I found the only way to do this was to number the Humphreys even though they weren't necessarily even son of the previously numbered Humphrey. I plead that this was a special case there being about 15 if I remember rightly and they were married to, it seemed all the same named wives out of a choice of about 3 names! (and of course there were sisters with these names too!)

Am I forgiven?

8/25/2011 at 9:05 AM

Terry, sounds like we should be thanking you!

8/25/2011 at 9:40 AM

Terry, if I had such an interesting project I'd have done exactly the same thing.

It doesn't seem that many of the people working in the medieval tree pay much attention to AKA names, but I generally take a minute to give them a light edit whenever I happen to be in there already.

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