Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Alternate Spellings and Nicknames

1880 U.S. census, Marion County, Mississippi, population schedule, Beat 1, enumeration district (ED) 131, p. 281 [stamped], dwelling [blank], family [blank], A.G. Graham household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Oct 2009); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 656; Every family in this enumeration district was listed as dwelling 1, family 1.

This is the household of my 2nd great-grandfather, Albert Gallitan Graham.  My great-grandmother is listed as Corean Graham.  That is an incorrect spelling of her name.  Her name was Corrine.  How do I know that?  My grandfather told me how his mother’s name was spelled and he also named one of his daughters Corrine.  Her name is spelled Corrine in the family Bible and I have other documents that have her name spelled this way.  Corean is a phonetic equivalent and it is easy to understand how the enumerator made this mistake.  So how do I handle this when I am recording the information in my file or if I am writing a report?

I do a couple of  things. I record the name Corrine Elizabeth Graham in the main name field because that is the name that I know to be correct (in some cases this would be the name that I “think” to be correct).  I record the name Corean Graham as an AKA in Legacy (and I know the other genealogy database programs also have this capability).     If I am writing a report, I will put a blurb in there stating that for clarity’s sake I will be using the name Corrine throughout the report though there are alternate spellings. 

If there is a reason why I need to mention a particular AKA I will do so.  An example  is when I am trying to prove that two people are in fact one and the same.  In my file I have a person named Mary who was referred to in her grandfather’s will as Polly.  I had to prove that Mary and Polly were the same person.  Another example would be showing that an alternate name is in fact the person’s middle name.  Many people even today prefer to be known by their middle name.  If I know a person had a specific nickname I will definitely mention it in reports because that helps make that person unique.  I still record what I know/think to be the person’s birth name in the main name field. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

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