Citing Ancestry Family Trees - user name/actual name

When I cite Ancestry trees, I use the Ancestry user name since its searchable and real name if I can determine it with certainty.

I have noticed that some women use their married name as their "user name". For their actual name should I use their maiden name, married name or both? I had been using maiden name but wonder now if that is correct.

Submitted byEEon Wed, 03/04/2020 - 21:18

Eventide, the Ancestry tree example on EE's Ancestry QuickSheet identifies the creator by the username. Ditto for examples in EE, as with p. 183.

If that user name is an actual name, then we copy the actual name exactly. If the actual name is run together into one word, as in ElizabethShownMills, that's how we copy it, because that's how the material is accessed at the site. If the name is Elizabeth Shown Mills we would not decide that's too long to type and shorten it to Elizabeth Mills. Doing so could make it difficult to locate the right Elizabeth Mills among all of Ancestry's members who carry that name.

We apply here the same rule we'd apply when it comes to print authors. If a book's title page identifies the author as Jane S. Williams and we know that she has remarried now and her married name is Black, we don't cite the author as Jane S. Williams Black. The creator name is always recorded the same way it appears on the publication—print or online.

By the same token, if the creator of a tree is identified by a pseudonym such as "iloveresearch23," and we know that person is Jeremy Abercrombie, we may insert his name in editorial brackets after the user name, for our own use. If we then share our files with someone else or publish something with that citation, we would not include Abercrombie's actual identity without his permission.

Submitted byEventideon Wed, 03/04/2020 - 22:09

Thank you.

So if I understand you correctly if the username is JaneDoe then there is no need to put [Jane Doe] in brackets, nor would I put [Jane Hendrickson] if I were to identify her by her maiden name.

And your last point brings up an interesting question. You mention that if I were to identify someone's real name when they had used a pseudonym, that I should only use that name for my own use but that I would not include his actual identity without his permission. Does that mean I can't use their real name in a research report for a client?

Submitted byEEon Sun, 03/08/2020 - 20:18

First question: In your own working notes, you can add anything that would help you. In publishing your work, or distributing it to others in any way, you would not include, without permission, the identity of a living person who posted under a user name. The user name suffices for your readers to find the material you are citing and evaluate what it offers.

Second question: This is an ethics issue, of course. My take on the ethics of the matter is this: If an Ancestry user wants to be publicly identified by name, he or she will use that name. If they post their data under a user name, then we cite the user name--even for a client. If we are personally communicating with someone who has an Ancestry account, if they have identified themselves to us privately, and if we wish to identify their actual name in a research report or something else we put into circulation--whether for ourselves or a client--then we should get the person's permission to attach their actual name to something they posted under a user name.