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Brian Zavitz

Conventions for notation?

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Brian Zavitz

I have a general and a specific question.

Specific question-- is there any "accepted practice" when the name of a person is not known, but e.g. a birth, death or marriage date is, so one wants to create a record? Does one leave the "Name" field blank, or put a question mark, or state "Unknown," etc.

General question-- is there any reference anyone can point me to that has a summary of all conventions for genealogical notation?

Thanks

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Chris Lloyd

I don't know if it is an accepted method or not but I use a known associated surname with brackets around it - e.g. John Smith has had several wives. I don't know maiden surname of one but do have dates for her, then I record her surname as (Smith) which makes it obvious to me that I need to do more research.

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DelG
4 hours ago, Chris Lloyd said:

I don't know if it is an accepted method or not but I use a known associated surname with brackets around it - e.g. John Smith has had several wives. I don't know maiden surname of one but do have dates for her, then I record her surname as (Smith) which makes it obvious to me that I need to do more research.

I do something similar. when I do not know the spouse's maiden name I enter her as (for example): Victoria SMITH NoMaidenName (which is interpreted as a suffix) .

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Merv
5 hours ago, Brian Zavitz said:

Specific question-- is there any "accepted practice" when the name of a person is not known, but e.g. a birth, death or marriage date is, so one wants to create a record? Does one leave the "Name" field blank, or put a question mark, or state "Unknown," etc.

This from Geni...

Quote

Naming Placeholders

For unknown names that require a placeholder, please use NN (a Latin abbreviation) or "???" and not language dependent words like:

  • unknown
  • ukjent
  • okänd
  • desconocida
  • inconnu

So I guess using question marks (???) is an accepted convention.

5 hours ago, Brian Zavitz said:

General question-- is there any reference anyone can point me to that has a summary of all conventions for genealogical notation?

You can probably do a search yourself, there are plenty of them out there but none of them are exactly the same

Here is the Geni article... https://wiki.geni.com/index.php/Naming_Conventions

Another article here... 8 Rules to Properly Record Names in Genealogy - ThoughtCo

Whatever conventions you decide for your website, it would probably be a good idea to have these explained somewhere on your website.

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bhemph

If you can leave the name field blank, that is best.  Abbreviations can be misunderstood and copied ad finem.  Say you have a visitor that doesn't know your language and uses Google Translate to view your page in their native language.  Google Translate says your page is English, so it does not translate the Latin and really doesn't know the Latin abbreviations so they stay as is.  The visitor doesn't know Latin and is confused by any abbreviations so they just copy what you have entered for their mutual family member.  Then this happens repeatedly and now you have many databases with some new given name or surname, or they match an actual name.  Later another researcher looking for the original record looks over the actual record because the name doesn't match because they are sure the name is this thing they got from someone else.

Question marks are at least a little more universal and don't need translation, which was why there was a push from a group to make sure that everyone used [--?--] as the placeholder.  So if a name has to be entered, using some semblance of the question marks is preferred over words.

There is an article https://www.tamurajones.net/FNULNUMNUUNK.xhtml where they talk about how often the different forms of unknown names appear in the Rootsweb databases.

As with many things on the internet the preferred style may change on a whim as some group gains more followers, but if you try to think of the global viewing and non native readers of your site you can make sure not to fall into the pitfalls that others have done before you.

Brent

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Brian Zavitz

Thanks folks.

 

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