Name Calling
2/3/2010
Mixed up by multiple monikers? Here's how to untangle the ancestral nicknames, name changes and spelling variations that can trip up your research.


In her 1965 hit song, “The Name Game,” Shirley Ellis claimed she could make a rhyme out of anybody's name. Clearly, she wasn't a genealogist dealing with all the name variations and roadblocks we encounter in our research. We find nicknames, name translations, name changes, maiden names, naming patterns, name spelling variations, name abbreviations and two or more people of the same name. Yikes! And if you don't type the name exactly as it's entered in a computer database, you may never find your ancestor. Then there's the other obstacle: What name do you record on your family charts? Let's take a look at the most common name problems and how to solve them.

1. Spelling tests