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Name That Ancestor
7/31/2014
Stumped by two John Smiths? Can't tell if Great-aunt Delia's also Great-aunt Bridget? Don't get caught playing the name game without our guide to untangling multiple monikers.

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 hit the name spelling 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? Here's a rundown of the most common name problems and how to resolve them.

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