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Geni naming conventions

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Geni Naming Conventions


Formerly titled “Coalition for the Standardization of Geni Naming Conventions”
Last updated 15 December 2023

This project aims to provide accurate naming conventions for specific places, languages and times.

For the Big Tree (World Family Tree) it is important that we try to unite on one good naming practice, trying to use the best genealogical standard. For our modern profiles we of course use what we’re used to: close relatives, living people, claimed profiles, all will write their names correctly according to how it is done legally in the country in question.

But for the parts of the tree many people share, usually starting 1700 and back, we need to cooperate to get it as good as possible, by both genealogical and historical standards. We must remember when working in the Big Tree with historical profiles that naming practices were often very different from what we are used to in our own culture, in our own language, or in our own time. When we encounter something where we are not sure or lack the knowledge, we must ask for help, or at least leave it to the ones who are experts in the area.

The following naming conventions are general guidelines for the world family tree on Geni, and especially for the Medieval Period (roughly 500-1500 AD or CE). You will see more specific naming conventions for particular cultures and time periods.

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GENERAL RULES

1. Use ordinary case. Do not enter surnames in all uppercase. Here is the place to change your personal settings so that your Birth Surnames shows in CAPS even when entered in ordinary case.

2. Do not include an index ID numbering scheme in the person's name, or date fields, or narrative description. if it's not part of their name, suffix (e.g. I,II) or a title, don't put it in the name fields.

3. Try to get the Default name as close to the original name as possible, taking into account the original language/ dialect and time period. (Cut & paste from Wikipedia etc can provide the appropriate diacritical marks if they aren't a function on your keyboard.) Use the language modules.

4. A person's birth surname should to be entered in the "Birth Name" field & surname changes that occurred after the birth surname, should be entered in the “Last Name / Surname” field. It is possible for each user to change their name preferences to show only maiden / Birth Surnames instead of Last Names. Here is the place to change your settings to only view the Birth Surname.
Also try to use the genealogical way of how names are written, you can find more information here: https://www.geni.com/projects/Geni-naming-conventions-genealogical-methods/4496589

5. Avoid filling in the Display Name field. That way, it will default to combining the first, middle, birth and last name fields, and display according to each member’s ”name preferences.” However, it may be used for celebrity “best known as” names; transliterations from other languages; royalty; and other special cases.

6. All names a person is known by in any source should be listed in Nicknames: bynames (especially in English), additional titles, variations.

7. Add sources (primary and secondary records, not trees copied from) to validate your data wherever you can.

8. In general, keep data from Master Profiles after merges, unless there is new and verified information with more accurate or specific data coming from a new profile (in this case, it is best to check with the curator of the Master Profile to alert him or her to the new information).

9. Don't fabricate facts without evidence eg don't provide married names for women in eras / cultures where they didn't use them.

  • The concept of a "maiden name" or "birth name" (that is, family surname of women prior to marriage) is culturally and historically specific and not universal. Most curators agree that the birth name field should be used for birth names or original names. In most historical profiles, especially in those prior to the 1600s, the Last Name should be the same as Birth Name. Please do not put married (i.e., husbands') names under Last Name field for women in pre-1700 Europe or other locations where it's historically inaccurate. Currently, the use of Last Name as married name for women is quite controversial and is used primarily for more recent (e.g., Colonial American) profiles but should only be used in periods and locations that such things existed. Please remember not to force your own cultural conventions on the past or on other cultures. It would be fine to include a variation with the husband's surname in the AKA section, so that it helps with searching and matching technology.

For more details on entering names in Geni, see the related project, Geni naming conventions - data entry.

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AREA SPECIFIC RULES


Aotearoa New Zealand

  • Aotearoa New Zealand is a bicultural nation where person names generally follow English naming conventions. Use the last name a person was born with in the Birth Surname field and the last name they died with in the Surname field.
  • In te ao Māori, the naming of people, places, and taonga is embedded in whakapapa, tikanga, and multi-layered stories. Tūpuna (ancestors) had a single name (no surname) but may have had several names throughout their lives to mark changes in circumstances. This was one way an oral culture could help maintain collective memory. See National Library of New Zealand: https://natlib.govt.nz/blog/posts/whats-in-a-tupuna-name
  • Colonisation brought the convention of surnames, and during the 1800s to the early 1900s Māori would often take the first name of their father as their surname. Māori women also kept their ‘surnames’ and did not change them when getting married.
  • From the early 1900’s Māori started to follow the Pākehā practice of using surnames, however many whānau still swap between a Pākehā surname and a transliterated version of the name in Māori.
  • Māori may also have a transliterated first name, or a Pākehā name in addition to their Māori name.
  • Māori place names are often written with macrons indicating long vowels. Correct spellings and macrons can be verified using the New Zealand Gazetteer https://gazetteer.linz.govt.nz

Australia

  • Use ordinary case
  • A person’s birth surname should be entered in the “Birth Name” field & surname changes that occurred after the birth surname, should be entered in the “Last Name / Surname” field (Note: historically in Australia the majority of women changed their surname when they married)
  • Note: early First Nations people did not traditionally have a surname - leave birth surname and Last Name / Surname fields blank
  • Do not fill in the “Display Name” field
  • Name Preference Settings can be used to change how names are displayed to your personal preference.

Brazil

Canada

China

  • Geni has recently released an entire system for Chinese names. Most importantly surnames now appear before given names, if they are entered under the Chinese tab. For details, see Geni Guide for Chinese Names

Croatia

Use ordinary case

  • A person’s birth surname should be entered in the “Birth Name” field & surname changes that occurred after the birth surname, should be entered in the “Last Name / Surname” field (Note: historically in Croatia the majority of women changed their surname when they married)
  • Do not fill in the “Display Name” field - Name Preference Settings can be used to change how names are displayed to your personal preference.
  • Please populate default name fields, do not leave them empty

Please refer to:

England

Estonia

Finland

Germany

Greece

Latin America

Lithuania

Malaysia

  • This convention will focus more on the Malay Muslim from Malaysia. However it may also be applied by any other profile not only from Malaysia but also include Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and any that practice the same naming system. Naming Convention for Malay

Netherlands

Norway

Philippines

Russia

Scotland

Slovakia

South Africa

  • A woman's married name is used in the Surname field after 1800 (when Britain took over the Dutch Colony). Before 1800, married female ancestors from the continent (France, Holland, Germany) are unlikely to have used their husband’s surnames as ‘Married Names.' British ancestors follow the naming patterns for Britain, where Married Names were used from about 1600.
  • Zulu & Xhosa nobility often use patronymics eg Mageba kaGumede & Gcaleka aPhalo. These should be recorded in the Birth Surname field. See South Africa - Profile Naming Conventions

Sweden

United States of America

  • Use ordinary case. Name Preference Settings can be used to change how names are displayed to your personal preference.
  • A person’s birth surname should be entered in the “Birth Name” field. The last surname known should be entered in the “Last Name / Surname” field; it may be a repeat of the birth surname.
  • The USA was formerly a colony of England, so names generally follow English naming conventions. See Colonial American naming conventions for more detail. (Note: historically in British Colonial America, the majority of women changed their surname when they married.)
  • Immigrants from other countries may best be shown using both their original language name and their anglicized name. Additionally, a name change is well depicted by use of both “original” and “last” names.
  • Early native Americans peoples did not traditionally have a surname. Leave birth surname and Last Name / Surname fields blank. See Native American naming conventions.
  • Enslaved persons may have acquired a surname, but may not have been born with one, so “birth surname” should be blank. See more at Naming conventions for American enslaved people.

Wales

PERIOD SPECIFIC RULES


Roman Empire (27 BC - 488 AD)

Ancient Wales, Ireland, and Scotland (60 BC - 1066 AD)

Medieval Europe (ca. 1100 - 1350)

Norman

Viking & Nordic

Finnish & Karelian

Anglo Saxon

Irish Kings

Scottish Kings

Russian Empire & Tsarist Russia

Biblical

Roman

TOPIC RULES

Genealogical methods

Medieval knights

Suffix Conventions (Post Nominal)

Suffix Conventions (Post-Nominal Letters in Canada)

Former Wiki Pages (defunct as of November 2023)

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