In my life, I have never been known by my birth name, only by my step name. In my marriage, both birth and step names are recorded, my children are recorded in my step name. I want to start a family tree I belive you must start with you birth name but would it be acceptable to start with my step name and use 'formally' or even 'né' for my birth? Or any other suggestions would be helpfull. I have the following software RootsMagic, Family Historian

1 Answer 1


While the conventional practice is for the primary name to be the birth name, many people accept that if someone has (almost?) never been known by that name, then it is appropriate to use the later name as the primary name. The Family Search naming standard specifically accepts this. (Sorry, I'm not in a position to provide the URL right now)

Software such as Family Historian has the concept of a Primary Name (your Step-Name, eg) plus one or more secondary or alternative names, depending on what you and the software want to call them - eg your birth name. Each should be completed independently, with no "formerly", "aka", "ne" or whatever inside the name.

You can explain the situation further in a note somewhere in your own details - feel free to write lots of notes to explain anything and everything

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    Thank-you for your great answer, I will now enter my step-name as primery name makes things a lot easier. Was able to customize RootsMagic to record the root person to read (Step-Name) born (Birth Name) on Date, Place) So when you enter a spouse or child it leads with (Step-Name) I'm a happy man. Commented Dec 9, 2023 at 19:17

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