How to Handle People With Multiple Names

Introduction

Sooner or later you will come across people known by different names at different times of their lives.

This can happen for many reasons including:

  • Being Adopted
  • Getting Married
  • Changing their name by Deed Poll

With the exception of a woman taking her husbands name on marriage it is important to document the change of name and the time it occurred.

The GEDCOM standard does not provide attributes or events for that, but with fh it is easy to add custom attributes to contain the information. There is a Fact Set ~ Name Changes available in the Downloads for the items above.

What Name Where?

The normal convention for the "main" name for a person is the name they were born with. This is the name they will be listed under in the Records Window.

Some cases do not need second name records for example to provide a different "know as" name, e.g. someone who was baptised 'Mary Margaret', but is known as 'Molly' can be recorded by using the Nickname or Alternate Name fields. These are accessed from the Main tab of the Property Box Dialogue via the more(+)… link to the Names/Titles dialogue (or on the fh V3 compatible Details tab).

Where additional names are required, another way to enter them is to use the All tab on the Property Box Dialogue and right click to add another name.

Examples

Deed Poll

To document someone who has changed their name by deed poll the following is suggested.

  1. Add a new Alternate Name to the person concerned with a Source Citation for the evidence of the name change.
  2. Add a Deed Poll attribute, entering the new name as the value, with a Source Citation as above.

Birth Name

In some cases you may wish to use this where someone was adopted at birth and has always used their adopted name rather than their birth name.

  1. Add a new Alternate Name to the person concerned with a Source Citation for the evidence of the name change.
  2. Add a Birth Name attribute, entering the new name as the value, with a Source Citation as above.

Adopted Name

  1. Add an Adoption Event, with a Source Citation for the evidence as normal.
  2. Add a new Alternate Name to the person concerned with a Source Citation as above.
  3. Add an Adopted Name attribute, entering the new name as the value, with a Source Citation as above.

Married Name

For use in cases where the Woman does not take on her Husband's name or where a Husband takes on his Wife's name.

  1. Add a new Alternate Name to the person concerned with a Source Citation for the evidence of the name change.
  2. Add a Married Name attribute, entering the new name as the value, with a Source Citation as above.

Unofficial Names

For people who used different names for example entertainers.

  1. Add a new Alternate Name to the person concerned with a Source Citation for the evidence of the name change.
  2. Add a custom event for change of name plus any details, with a Source Citation as above.

Display Options

By default the Alternate Names are sometimes not very visible, but they can easily be displayed. Now fh V6 has better defaults for Diagrams and Reports, and includes Alternate Names in Records Window searches.

In the Names/Titles dialogue mentioned above, there is a Make Primary button to swap any chosen Alternate Name with the Primary Name. Then that chosen name appears wherever the Individual appears.

Customise Property Box

  1. Use Menu > Customize Data Entry option for Main tab, and untick Show most commonly-used items only.
  2. Select and add the <Custom Item> (for advanced users..) choosing the Main area for Individual.
  3. Enter Custom Item Name: as say Name (2) and tick Part 1.
  4. Enter Label: as say Name (2) again and Data Reference: as INDI.NAME[2] then click OK.
  5. Move the Name (2) item up under Name item using the black arrows, then click OK.

Repeat for Name (3) and INDI.NAME[3], et seq.

Adjust AKA Names Plugin

The Adjust AKA Names for Reports Plugin has two modes of use:

  • Add/remove all Alternate Names to/from the Primary Name.
  • Create an AKA (Also Known As) custom fact that holds all names, and appears in the Facts tab and in Reports.