Table of Contents

Personal name

A personal name is an attribute of a person, not an identification. A person can have more than one name, and there may be different persons with the same name.

Some rules how to record personal names

The naming conventions in the various cultures differ so widely that no structure could be standardized.

The surname of an individual (in NAME), if known, is enclosed between two slash (/) characters.
The order of the name parts should be the order that the person would have used when giving it to a recorder.
If part of name is illegible, that part is indicated by an ellipsis (…).
Capitalize the name of a person or place in the conventional manner— capitalize the first letter of each part and lowercase the other letters, unless conventional usage is otherwise. For example: McMurray.

Examples:
William Lee (given name only or surname not known)
/Parry/ (surname only)
William Lee /Parry/
William Lee /Mac Parry/ (both parts (Mac and Parry) are surname parts
William /Lee/ Parry (surname imbedded in the name string)
William Lee /Pa…/

(Excerpts from GEDCOM 5.5.1 Lineage-Linked Form Usage Conventions)

Name type

A subordinate name type (TYPE) can be used to specify the particular variation that this name is, for example the name issued or assumed as an immigrant.

aka = also known as, alias, etc.
birth = name given on birth certificate
immigrant = name assumed at the time of immigration
maiden = maiden name, name before first marriage
married = name was persons previous married name
<user_defined>= other text name that defines the name type

(Excerpts from GEDCOM 5.5.1 Lineage-Linked Form Usage Conventions)

To add a type to a name: in GEDCOM mode Context Menu of the name → 'Add property …' → 'Type'.

Personal name pieces

The following tags are provided optionally for systems that cannot operate effectively with less structured information. Those using the optional name pieces should assume that few systems will process them, and most will not provide the name pieces.

NPFX: Non indexing name piece that appears preceding the given name and surname parts. Different name prefix parts are separated by a comma.
For example: Lt. Cmndr. Joseph /Allen/ jr.
In this example Lt. Cmndr. is considered as the name prefix portion.

GIVN: Given name or earned name. Different given names are separated by a comma.

NICK: A descriptive or familiar that is used instead of, or in addition to, one's proper name.

SPFX: A name piece used as a non-indexing pre-part of a surname. Different surname articles are separated by a comma, for example in the name “de la Cruz”, this value would be “de, la”.

SURN: Surname or family name. Different surnames are separated by a comma.

NSFX: Non-indexing name piece that appears after the given name and surname parts. Different name suffix parts are separated by a comma.
For example: Lt. Cmndr. Joseph /Allen/ jr.
In this example jr. is considered as the name suffix portion.

(Excerpts from GEDCOM 5.5.1 Lineage-Linked Form Usage Conventions)

Multiple names and different notations

GEDCOM requires listing different names in different NAME structures, with the preferred instance first, followed by less preferred names. However, programs that only handle one name may use only the last instance of a name from a GEDCOM transmission.

:-( This causes the preferred name to be dropped when more than one name is present.

(Excerpts from GEDCOM 5.5.1 Lineage-Linked Form Usage Conventions)

A personal name has to be recorded as it occurs in the source or was official at the time of the event.

For surnames written in several ways however, many decide to stick to one of them within the file for practical reasons: searching and evaluations are easier. But in these cases the names used in the sources should definitely be recorded in further NAME structures as mentioned above or in a Note.

See also GEDCOM Usage Recommendations - Equal tags with equal level numbers within the same context

How to mark the first name?

People often have a set of 'given' names in their legal documents and official records. One of these is normally most often used by friends, family, and other intimates: the first name, proper name, or given name; sometimes also denoted 'known by', goes by'. (It is not the nickname, see above.)

As there is no standardized method to mark this first name, the following possibilities could be used:

1 NAME <complete names>
   2 NOTE goes by:  <first name>
1 NAME <first name>
   2 TYPE aka   //or//     2 TYPE first name

Unknown persons

Rumors tell that we sometimes find the mother of a child but the father is unknown. :-) In this case we create a family with an unknown partner. His name should not be Unknown' as this surely is not his name.

Additionally in old sources often the surname of the wife is not recorded.

For unknown names the following solutions are often used:
Surname: NN (<surname of wife or husband>); NN; (Unknown)
Given name: NN-f or NN-m (for female or male)

Handling of personal names in GenJ

GenJ automatically completes personal names already used during typing. We can accept it with the Enter key or select one by the drop-down menu (black triangle on the right).
To change a name see Edit View - Changing names throughout the file.

The most often used of the personal name pieces are available in the editor standard mode, for the other we have to switch to the GEDCOM mode.

If we use them, we have the advantage that we can control their visibility in the Table View and in the Blueprints for the Family Tree View and the Record View and various Reports and Utilities. However, we must be aware that the Data Exchange Problems for GEDCOM files with other programs might be difficult.

To add a type to a name: context menu of the name → 'Add property …' → 'Type'.


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