I am using fake names for this question.

Jane Jones is the daughter of Julie ___ and Bob Smithers. Julie and Bob were not married. They lied, and Jane’s birth certificate says “Smith.” Jane later became known by her stepfather’s name, Jones.

With a source actually saying “Smith,” I wouldn’t want to ignore it, but would you put it in GEDCOM as a NAME (and if so, what TYPE), or would you put it as a NOTE on the BIRT or on the NAME /Smithers/? (Actually, I'd not put "Smithers" on her but it would certainly be on the biological father.)

I'm not aware of any living people with this issue, but my own grandmother did often get called by her step-father's name even though she was not officially adopted.

  • Is your person living, or born less than 100 years ago? Consider this related Q: genealogy.stackexchange.com/q/15847/1006 The answer might be different depending on whether you are talking about a living or recently-deceased person vs. someone farther back in time.
    – Jan Murphy
    Apr 4, 2021 at 1:52

1 Answer 1


I would use the physical record that you have and record her name as what was written on the Birth Certificate and use that as her NAME in the gedcom. Any other names that she was known as can be added as NAME TYPE AKA with appropriate sources. Additional information can always be added as a NOTE to any of your sources.

This is what the Gedcom 5.5.1 standard has to say:

NAME_TYPE:= {Size=5:30} [ aka | birth | immigrant | maiden | married | ] Indicates the name type, for example the name issued or assumed as an immigrant.

aka = also known as, alias, etc.

birth = name given on birth certificate.

immigrant = name assumed at the time of immigration.

maiden = maiden name, name before first marriage.

married = name was persons previous married name.

user_defined= other text name that defines the name type.

  • Ha! I didn’t know ‘maiden’ was there, though I’ve been using the others, except ‘birth’, since I took that as the default.
    – WGroleau
    Apr 4, 2021 at 6:18
  • Your answer (and any others that come along) could be improved by saying what the advantages or disadvantages are of the option you chose. Otherwise we'll just have a bunch of answers that are opinion-based.
    – Jan Murphy
    Apr 4, 2021 at 15:58
  • @JanMurphy Like anything in genealogy research, there is no right or wrong way to record your research so what we do is all opinion based.
    – Colin
    Apr 5, 2021 at 5:49
  • Yes, but we can make explicit the advantages and disadvantages of a particular method, which makes it easier for someone to choose one specific method over another.
    – Jan Murphy
    Apr 6, 2021 at 3:00

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