When I began filling out my tree software (I use Family Tree Maker for the Mac), I used AKA for most of the name variations I found. I found it not to be helpful in tracking those variations. Something that was very useful when looking at dates of other changes or in figuring out which leads to pursue. So I switched everything.
I create a new Name fact for every variation, including married vs maiden names. For example, one of my entries includes the following names:
- Florence Jane Deutelbaum (preferred)
- Florence J. Deutelbaum
- Florence Deutelbaum
- Florence D. Lutz
- Florence Luntz
- Florence J Goldberg
- Florence Goldberg
- Florence Gavin
As you can see, she was married twice. Because each separate fact has its own set of sources, I can also usually tell which names are simply mistakes. Sometimes one spelling variation is in multiple official sources and another variation is there once. In this case, both Lutz and Luntz have one source, and it's the same (sort of) newspaper obituary! (Gavin is a name change Florence's son made that she may or may not have chosen to use herself now and again...its only use for her is in obituaries that she was almost certainly not the informant for.)
Because of the individual tracking and careful sourcing, it's easy for me to look at her page and tell you all this, without relying on my memory.
Also Known As
I save the AKA fact for names that don't exist as official names in records. I don't mean standard nicknames. If my example above were ever in, say, a newspaper article as Flo Goldberg, I'd have recorded it as a name. I mean more like her first husband.
- AKA Biggie
- AKA Mad Marshall
How much you can do will depend on your software. If you use Ancestry.com's online trees, for example, you get one main name and then a bunch of also known as's. If you have a serious program though, you'll get to choose.