1. Parenting
Introduction to Genealogy
Lesson 1d: Recording Names
 Intro to Genealogy:
 Lesson One
• Course FAQ
• Course Outline

• Why Genealogy?
• Genealogy: The Basics
• Charting Your Course
• Recording Names
• Recording Dates
• Recording Places
• Putting It All Together
• Lesson 1: Quiz
 Interactive Classroom

Visit the Let's Learn Genealogy forum to post your questions and comments and interact with your classmates.
Get Help with Lesson 1

When recording your genealogical data on charts there are some important conventions which should be followed with regard to names, dates and places. By following these standard rules, you can help to ensure that your genealogy data is as complete as possible and that it will not be misinterpreted by others.

*genealogy software programs will each have their own individual rules for entering names. Be sure to read the directions completely so that you get it right the first time!

  1. Record names in their natural order - first, middle, last (surname). Use full names if known. If the middle name is not known, you may use an initial.  Example: Shawn Michael THOMAS

  2. Print SURNAMES in upper case letters. This provides easy scanning on pedigree charts and family group sheets and also helps to distinguish the surname from first and middle names. This convention is widely used, but is not necessary.  Example: Garrett John TODD

  3. Enter women with their maiden name (surname at birth) rather than their husband's surname. When you do not know a female's maiden name, insert only her first (given) name on the chart followed by empty parentheses (). Some genealogists also record the husband's surname. Both ways are correct as long as you are consistent and follow all naming rules. In this example, your ancestor Mary Elizabeth's maiden name is unknown and she is married to John DEMPSEY.  Example: Mary Elizabeth () or Mary Elizabeth () DEMPSEY

  4. If a women has had more than one husband, then you would enter her given name, followed by her maiden name in parentheses followed by the names of any previous husbands (in order of marriage). If the middle name is known then you may enter that as well. This example is for a woman named Mary CARTER at birth who was married to a man named Jackson CARTER prior to marrying your ancestor, William LANGLEY.  Example: Mary (Carter) SMITH or Mary (Carter) SMITH LANGLEY

  5. If there is a nickname that was commonly used for an ancestor, include it in quotes after the given name. Do not use it in place of a given name and do not enclose it in parentheses (parentheses between a given name and surname is used to enclose maiden names and will cause confusion if it is also used for nicknames). If the nickname is a common one (i.e. Kim for Kimberly) it is not necessary to record it. Example: Rachel "Shelley" Lynn BROOK

  6. If a person is known by more than one name (i.e. due to adoption, name change, etc.) then include the alternate name or names in parentheses after the surname, preceded by a.k.a.  Example: William Tom LAKE (a.k.a. William Tom FRENCH)

  7. Be sure to include alternate spellings when your ancestor's surname has changed over time (possibly due to it being spelled phonetically or due to the surname being changed upon immigration into a new country). Record the earlier usage of the surname first, followed by later usages.  Example: Michael HAIR/HIERS

  8. Don't be afraid to use the notes field. For example, if you have a female ancestor whose birth name was the same as her husband's surname, then you will want to make a note of that so that it is not assumed in the future that you had just entered it incorrectly.

Next page
> Recording Dates



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