Ever faced an obstacle in your family research as you look for an ancestors’ name?
When viewing census records, for example, it’s not uncommon to find a relative listed with their formal birth name in one record, and then listed under a nickname in another.
Nicknames are usually familiar or humorous and used as an appropriate replacement or addition to a given name. They can be a form of endearment, refer to a personal character trait or just be a shortened version.
When you stumble upon these new listings, you might think your family research has hit a brick wall. Searching for records can be difficult if you don’t have all the information, but don’t despair, here are some tips below to help in your family history research.
- Search for the surname first to yield relevant results. Sometimes the first name is listed as the surname.
- Search for other family members in the census - such as a parent or sibling - to find the nickname or birth name of a relative.
- Check for middle names that may be the given name.
- Search by initials or shortened versions. For example, for Alexander,check Al or Alex.
- Sometimes names may sound alike such as Aaron and Erin or Sheryl and Cheryl. Try alternate name spellings with the surname.
Nicknames come in various forms. Here are some common types:
- Hereditary surname: Armstrong or Smallman
- Title referring to an occupation or social standing: Doc, Sarge, Genius
- Physical characteristics or personality: Slim, Sherlock, Chatterbox
- Middle portion of name: Liz (Elizabeth) or Greta (Margaret)
- Letter swapping: Bill (William), Bob or Rob (Robert) or Sadie (from Sarah).
- First part of name: Chris (Christopher/Christina), Ed (Edward/Edmund), and Jo/e (Joseph/Joanna).
- End of name: Beth (Elizabeth) and Drew (Andrew)
- Adding ie/ee/y as an ending: Dave (David), Charlie (Charles), Danny/Dani (Daniel/Danielle) and Jimmy (James)
Are there nicknames in your family? Have you discovered additional names for ancestors in your family tree?
Let us know in the comments below!
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