Documenting personal initials and name variants in compiled genealogies

In writing and documenting a compiled genealogy, I find many cases in which my source for a particular fact uses the person's initials rather than spelling out his given name(s). I'm undecided whether to expand the initials and document the full name or to use only the initials at that point. Frequently my source for a different fact that occurs later in the essay will provide the full name. If I expand and document the full name in the first instance, citing one source for the event and another for the full name, then repeat the second source as a short-form subsequent reference note for the later event, am I bloating my citations list or just doing what's necessary?

If I dodge that issue by using only the person's initials in the first instance and his full name in the second, am I violating best practices and perhaps confusing the reader, especially in cases where a person's name was spelled many different ways in various records and/or he also used "call names" or a.k.a. names? If later sections of the essay include more facts whose supporting documentation again uses only the person's initials or spells the name still differently, how should I present the name in those instances?

Is there an acceptable way to deal with this issue just once for each person, or is it necessary to repeat the process in various parts of the compiled genealogy, such as the narrative, child lists and genealogical summary? I know to spell the name as the source does in my citations, but I'd very much appreciate EE's advice regarding the text itself.

Many thanks!


Submitted byEEon Sun, 06/30/2024 - 19:05

F.T.C., the basic rules are these:

  • In our research notes, we copy exactly. If we add anything to further identify a person, we place our added information in square editorial brackets. [EE4 2.21 Citing Personal Names]
  • In our narrative, we should adopt one spelling or one form of identification for a person and use it consistently.
  • The reference notes we attach to assertions made in the narrative will use the name as rendered in the document or source being cited. If those reference notes further identify a person who, perhaps, is cited by initials in the document, then the first rule above applied again.