Saturday, September 25, 2004


I once had a woman point out that I needed to "clean up those nicknames" in my database. I always include nicknames, such as Robert Milton "Bob" Hamby. She really complained, thinking it was quite silly to say someone named "Robert" had the nickname "Bob"...

Well, she chose an awkward example there, since in my family I have Roberts who go by, respectively: R.W., Bob, Rob, Bobby, and one who has gone by Robin. And what about Elizabeth? Lizzie, Liz, Beth, Bessie... and there's the confusion so many people have over "Eliza". It was not a nickname for Elizabeth (generally speaking) and it was very common to have one daughter named "Elizabeth" and another named "Eliza". I frequently see people try to conflate the two or to call both "Elizabeth". Nope. One is Elizabth and the other Eliza.

In any event, not only do I like noting what they actually went by (this is really all about finding out what their lives were like, and a big part of that is what name you use!) but it helps with searches. If you put "Bob Hamby" into the rootsweb database, you get my grandfather.

It gets really helpful if someone only shows up in census records with their nickname. I know of a man named Oliver Scott (as his name appeared in his marriage record) who shows up in every census as "Olly" or even "Olla". If you put that nickname into the search engine you will find the right fellow...

But I think she got the idea you were supposed to "fix" the nicknames from Family Tree Maker, which tells you in no uncertain terms that it is a "Data Entry Error" if you put a nickname in quotes with the name. They have an AKA line for that - but you can't see that AKA from the main page and it creates an annoying second entry in the database, making it look as if you've got the person twice.

Family Tree Maker is just bossy anyway. If you accidentally type over a name it will note:
By changing this name you are making Scott the child of Daniel McRae. Is this what you mean to do?

At which point I hit the "No" button and wait, annoyed, for its final chiding:
If you are trying to fix individuals who are incorrectly shown as related, use the People-Fix Relationship Mistakes commands.

To which I have to meekly agree, "OK", before it will let me go on.

The whole thing is incredibly frustrating because it is always a mistake. I will click the button for the Index and start typing without noticing that it hasn't come up and that my cursor is in the "name" box, so I'm already annoyed with myself, and then it points out that ridiculous possible reason for the error: I can't even imagine how someone would think that typing over someone would fix a 'relationship mistake'. Not to mention that I've got some new idea or document, etc. concerning said 'Scott' and having to wait while the program tells me I'm a bad little girl can make me completely forget what I was doing...

Really, really dumb.