Looking for information to help find when a name changed spelling.

@kaysue4 (951)
United States
May 9, 2008 7:25pm CST
Ok, like all of you I am doing my family tree and there was a point in the 1890s or so when the name changed the way it was spelled, but not sure who change how the name was changed. I found an article about one of my grandfather's sister's passed away and the spelling was changed in the news article, but all of the other kids have the spelling that we have now. How can I find out this information? I have tried the name change and without the name change and I am stuck and can't find any information past my great, great grandfather. How can I find this out. Thanks SO much in advance. I do this as a hobby and my grandmother is 86 and I try to get information when I can from her, memory is getting fuzzy on some issues now.
3 people like this
6 responses
@winterose (39918)
• Canada
10 May 08
have you gone to the government archives and looked up the births and deaths of your ancestry for as far back as they appear?
1 person likes this
@kaysue4 (951)
• United States
10 May 08
I used a couple different sources. I can't find anything. I have been looking on and off for almost 10 years or so.
1 person likes this
@lilaclady (28240)
• Australia
10 May 08
I had this problem when I was doing my family tree, I was told that because a lot of people could not read or write very good in those days when they had give out their name to someone else in authority or whatever it depended on how that person picked up on the name to how it was spelt, like the name I had problems with was Thorbourn, sometimes spelt, Thorburn or Thorbourne..I just had to look under every spelling I could think of in the library archives...I also had the problem of so many of mt relatives preferred their second given name so went through life using that...Good luck with your research...
@kaysue4 (951)
• United States
10 May 08
Good tip. I never really thought about it, but the generation I am on, was from that area for a long time. Moffitt, Maffitt, Maffit, Moffat, ect.
1 person likes this
• United States
10 May 08
Lots of us have name-spelling issues. Mostly it stems from coming into America and the customs officers who wrote what they heard, or what they felt was "better" or "easier". Another problem is spelling that changed due to where a family resided - such as: My family was originally from Scotland. When they lived there, they spellled their name "MacDonald" or "MacDonwald"... or if you really want to get technical it's "MacDonbfuid"! Some spell it Donnal, some add the Mac. When the family moved to Ireland, they opted for the Irish feel name, "McDonald". Rediculous. You best bet is to ignore the name spelling and just go for broke. Follow every lead until you find a solid line back to you.
@jer31558 (3683)
• United States
12 May 08
You may want to check with other relatives that may have that information. Also, is there a chance that in the article, the name was mis-spelled and not changed?
• United States
9 Jul 11
Go to http://www.archives.gov/research/census/soundex.html and read about the Soundex system. Soundex helps you group similar names with diverse spellings together. Many of the censuses have been indexed using Soundex and this may help you find your "lost" ancestor. Also, if you are using one of the subscription sites like HeritageQuest or Ancestry, try some searches without the surname if you have some other data to use in narrowing the search, such as birth year and/or location, place of residence, etc.
• United States
4 Jun 08
This is probably one of the toughest things to deal with in genealogy. I've also got a spelling change in my family, and while my mom knows approximately which generation changed the spelling, it's not done consistently. It usually takes a few generations before all of the family members are on the same page, so to speak. Unless you find a document somewhere where the family legally changed the spelling (pretty unlikely unless this was a VERY recent change), it's always going to be a matter of speculation. Sometimes I wish family members would have thought about the impact this would have on future generations of genealogists, though! :)