My great-grandmother was born Frances Iona Rampley. There is only one record on her that uses that name: her birth certificate. Her marriage record, mortgages she signed, her social security death index entry, 1900-1940 census enumerations, court documents, estate papers, tombstone, etc. all list her as Fannie.

Your ancestor may never have used their “real” name. And if they never used their “real name” was that their real name? In the case of my great-grandmother, I list her as Fannie and in my notes indicate what her record of birth says.



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  1. I believe in using the same name the person used if we can possibly know it, in honor of my late sister, reluctantly named after a relative, always known by a nickname, never ever by the relative's name.

  2. I don't know how to refer to my mother in law in genealogy records. She was named Grace, after her mother. TO avoid confusion they called her by her middle name, Angela. When she was young, Angelina. Later she “Americanized' it to Ann.

  3. Being of Dutch descent I put the surname used now a days and the origin “Old Style” One in quotes. In some census I have people interchanging their given with their middle name and put the given name first then next to it in quotes the one they are know by…Grace “Angela”. I note it in the comment section on my Ancestry tree so people understand it. Just list it like that and note the page its on so people understand it.

  4. My personal opinion is that we use their given names in the genealogy record, and record their “unofficial” names as “Also Known As”

  5. RootsMagic software provides for the use of nicknames. My maternal grandmother's given name was Mary Jane, but she always went by Marie. In RootsMagic she is shown as Mary Jane “Marie” Davis. This seems to be preferable to using AKA Marie Davis.

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