Why isn't there a separate field for women's married names?

This is more about genealogy in general than RootsMagic, though they’re not off the hook.

OK, I know that it’s the Genealogical Standard. It’s been this way for decades. But:

  1. It makes it more difficult to find a particular person in a list. It makes it harder to share your work with others, who are not expert genealogists. It does not accurately reflect the identity of the person named. Ironically, it’s sexist.
  2. Decades ago the people who established the standard likely did not have family trees with thousands of people in them, as is common now. It complicates merely finding a profile.
  3. Even with the advent of computers, computing power in 2022 can more than handle what would have choked a computer in 2000. Why not use some of that power to make the software more usable?

Also, it’s apparently the Genealogical Standard is to always use names at birth. Again, only if you never want to see them again. Funny story: my grandfather, Daniel Karlin was always Daniel Karlin. When he came to America in 1906 at age 6, the manifest said Daniel Karlin. I recently found his birth record in the Dnipro (Ukraine) Archives. His name in the record was Gedalya Karlin. Should he be listed by the name no one knew? I think not. Better use of the Alternate Name field I think.

Names at birth can be handled by ignoring the Standard. Married names though require a field of their own. Am I alone on this?

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How many fields were you contemplating? I have more than one woman who was married 3 times so would require 3 married name fields. It would probably also require another update to the GEDCOM standard and the last one took years. Nothing is impossible but it is not easy to change standards.

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I wouldn’t say you are alone in this, but I would venture a guess that you are in an extreme minority in regards to married names. I have yet to meet anyone that read my material that got confused because the report referred to a woman’s birth name instead of their married name. I think those folks that insist on entering an Alt Name for every marriage, are just downright silly. However, I think there can/should be a minor change to genealogy software. It would be something like a tick box on the marriage entry screen that asks if you wish to create an Alt Name for the spouse. This would just add the married name, with the type of married, to the database.

Something a little more complicated would be a report option to use married name instead of birth name.

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I do think one is enough. I would imagine one of the 3 names you mention would be of greater significance than the others. Alternate or AKA name fields can suffice for the others.

You make a good point about Gedcom.

I don’t know about extreme minority. Of the major online genealogy sites, the 2 800 pound gorillas are old school, but Geni/My Heritage (same ownership) do it my way. Actually, I rather like Geni’s database profile design, e.g. fields provided. Pity about the rest of it.

You can get pretty far with Alt names, if they’re searchable. I was rather horrified when, in preparation for writing this post, I went in RootsMagic and found I could not search for Given Names.

Thanks for your thoughts.

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The major genealogy sites are NOT genealogists. They exist to trade their data for our money.

As for not being able to search for given names, I am not certain what that has to do with boxes for marries name, which was your initial problem however you can indeed search for given names in both RM7 and RM8.

In RM8, click Find > Person Search - Advanced, choose ‘Given name(s)’ > equals and type in the given name. You can even tick the box to show alternate names.

In RM7, click the toolbar magnifying glass (Rootsmagic Explorer), click Find, choose ‘Given name(s)’ > equals and type in the given name. Of course the RM7 way is more annoying as you have to keep hitting Next to walk through the list, while RM8 shows you the whole list.


And you are going to guess which one had the greater significance for some woman in the 19th century?

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I want to address several posts in this thread-

I certainly don’t think it is silly to enter an Alt name of type “Married” for each of a woman’s marriages !
I also make sure that the date, or at least sort date of the alt name corresponds to the marriage date.

These names certainly are searchable. That’s why I enter them.

So, married names already have a field of their own.


As Richard and Phil said – the use of Alternate Names (type Married instead of AKA etc) – works for this purpose. I think it works well for my purposes. I suppose one could create a Custom fact but that would seem unnecessary

For a for-profit business to add a feature that isn’t the norm in their industry, they must think there is demand for it. Otherwise, why bother? I may be giving them too much credit, but I think they did market research and found a significant number of people wanted it.

Perhaps I should have saved the Given Name search thing for a different thread. My point was that things should be easily searchable. In People view I see an “Index” on my screen with a search box. Which does not work, except for surnames or Record Number. The same applies to the People List. If I leave People view and go to Search the options are robust. Why have a search box that does search all the info in the list? But you’re right, it’s veering off-topic.

Thanks for the lesson. I see now that I should spend less time in People and more time in Search.

Although, the visual appearance of the text entry box is that of Search (magnifying glass icon) it appears designed to merely perform as a Filter (funnel icon) for Surname,Given within entire People index -or- defined Groups. An icon change would seem called for.

I can’t speak for anyone in the 19th Century. I can say who has greater significance to me.
I’m the one using the program, and using the information.

The principle I think, is that the top-line primary name should be recognizable to the user.

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Thanks for your thoughts everyone.

My aunt Hilda Karlin, her cousin Hilda Karlin and her cousin Hilda Karlin all thank you too. :wink:

hey all,

i just joined here, yet i have a couple minor thoughts that should make beginners of genealogy and software like this work better…

so here is the deal…

i have found that instead of last name used for females… it should be Maiden name for Females only this would replace the last name but act as the same thing…

Then adding a Married name field for the correct married name would benefit… make this also a separate field AND NOT ALT FIELD!!! when someone searches they don’t think much about how to search a woman’s name… nor may then know all possible last names if married multiple times.

something i found out when talking to my younger sister about her mom (stepmom to me) my step mom was married 3x i dont know if she ever went back to her maiden name ever after being married the first time. it wasnt till my dad that she was with someone for over 10 years (yet in my early years as as kid) i saw a piece of mail with 1 of her married names from before my dad (i did not know this till more recently, because her maiden name was far different)

so this is where the Maiden name/lastname comes in as a real field AND MARRIED NAME

and with that the ALT Field then can be used for a nickname as a number of people and a lot of women tend to have those nicknames…

think about this
as someone builds their tree up some people researching may know the person by a nickname others not, but throw in the maiden name and its easier to do the searches even with a married name added

for genealogy this should have been the standard from the get go… everyone knew way back when women have a maiden birth name and then they would change their last name when they get married… and some have those nicknames… here we are 20 years later and still talking about an issue that has existed for HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO…

if the software and website genealogists and developers did this

i cant speak about women who get married more than 2 times but come on… its a straight forward fix and adjustment especially for software…

just my 2cents

Alt fields work just fine. If you know how to use your software, you can search for an Alt name just like you would for a maiden name. It doesn’t matter how many married names a woman has or whether she reverted to her maiden name in between marriage. All of the Alt names will appear in the index. This way, you can even find a woman if you only know her third married name of the top of your head, and can’t recall her maiden name.

You also haven’t addressed what happens in the case of multiple marriages. How many married name field would you like? And what if more than one of those married names was the same. I have a few great-aunts that married 5 times, I have another great-aunt that was married three times, in two of those instances she had the same surname because she married brothers…so do we need one married name field for two marriages, or do we need two fields?

“its a straight forward fix and adjustment especially for software…” - I am going to guess you are not a software developer by trade or training, because only people that aren’t make such silly statements.

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hey there,

Alt fields may work fine but they dont do service to what people want to or need to input… nhow many alt fields does there need to be before people get confused instead of a couple new standard fields… how many… 5 16 or 20 alt fields…

i kow the basics of dbase but not the full out programming of todays dbase inner workings… i have had a friend explain a little here and there but compared to say 20 years ago i am not as well versed as others…

but i know a dbase is tables and fields where data is stored ages ago i took a shot at a basic dbase class back in the 90s back about the time the internet went public and before the genealogy like ancestry and this went to big things… back when as i said before … all this history we know of took place

Max number of standard married names should be no more than 3 but 2 would be better… the rest can at that point be in alternative records field(s)

you and i maybe coming at this topic from opposite sides… you may know more about dbase structure and programming, where i am looking at this from the other side of what i know makes it easier for others… including my wife…

10 years ago my wife started her research and tree… and that is many many hours and money searching what is possible and trying to verify it…

yet BOTH OF US Come from divorced parents (btw there are no fields for stepmom or stepdad or step sister or step brother… or half brother or half sister… i have yet to find anything even on ancestry (AGAIN a 20 YEAR PROBLEM) had a few people thought then about these points then this issue would not be a bad TODAY… my wife’s dad divorced 3 times so she has many half siblings while my dad divorced 1 time and remarried 1 more time with a few more kids… mean while my mom and stepdad are married yet he has a son… (my step brother) now are you going to keep telling someone like me the alt fields are just fine??? my stepdad has 3 additional kids to my moms 1 (his son)

i know this much about websites and programming even some small dbase stuff… once you get something in place generally speaking it doesnt take so much time to add a few more fields to explained the dbase and then whatever needs to be done to the program itself…

when someone begins their genealogy, there is NO HOW TO or this is the Standard of how to insert people… i haven’t found any real universal agreed up one cross programming etc website that has a beginners guide to make their genealogy tree work with others… sure i am starting to find some now here and there

but 10 years ago when my wife started her tree… there were most likely none… and this goes back to what i said to make it easier for beginners… simple add the field or maiden/last name of the wife and upto 3 sub fields for married names or a female

just some more food for thought…


apart from the actual search functions, basic and advanced, under the magnifying glass icon, are you aware that you can also just try typing
, given name
in the find search on the people list view.
It can be reached from anywhere with Ctrl+F


Perhaps I’m being a bit obtuse here but isn’t it just a matter of personal choice which name you choose for your personal database, after all in most cases it is only you that will view your database on your computer.

When you have your database online it is a different matter. Other researchers that descend from a different spouse will be looking for their line - using the maiden name will allow them to find your online database (which is the point of having it publicly viewable). Incidentally if you upload your database with maiden names to Ancestry (for example) and use their search facility it will automatically add all ladies’ spouses surnames to their maiden name in the search box to look for record/site matches.

I think there’s some merit to having Alt Names for married surnames. If I find the name of a (married) woman in research such as a newspaper article or other record, yet it doesn’t list a maiden name, how am I to easily find out of this person is in or should be in my database? Using the People Index is super fast and easy. Creating an Advanced Person search with Married surname AND Given name is slow and cumbersome. Not to mention that you can’t save these advanced searches for quick reuse.

Yes, I am. I am doing so because you have apparently not spent much time learning what the software can do. For example, your stepbrother…I am assuming that this would be a case of where your parent married someone else that already had kids. IN that case, you would add your stepbrother to your mother and her new spouse ( I personally don’t enter stepsiblings at all outside of putting a note the father field stating the kids names and the fact that they were from a previously relationship). Once you have entered him, go to his edit screen and click the parent line. When you do this, you will be able to enter the parental relationship for both your mother and her new husband. Presumably, your mother’s husband would be shown as the birth father…then your mother’s relation can changed to Step. See picture below!

"once you get something in place generally speaking it doesnt take so much time to add a few more fields to explained the dbase "
Incorrect! Once, long ago in my early days of programming, I had a senior programmer tell me to plan well because for every thing you have to add later, you are likely to break two other things. That is especially true now that RM8 is full on production ready…or so the developers are trying to convince us.

“there is NO HOW TO or this is the Standard of how to insert people”
Again, incorrect. In our society, women are entered by their maiden names. The married name are eithered entered as an alt name or derived from the spouse’s name. There are certain matrilineal societies where this may be different and you have certain Scandinavian countries that may have some variation due to naming convention, but in those cases extra empty boxes aren’t going to be helpful either. Especially given that you think definitely 2 but maybe 3 boxes would be enough and Alt names are good for the rest. Each of those empty boxes are going to require extra processing to determine if there is content in the boxes and if so there is extra processing generating the query that writes the data to the database.