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22 November 2011

Never Use Grandma

When writing any genealogical note, commentary, etc. avoid the use of relationship terms without the name of the person attached to it.

"Grandma gave me this picture."

"My Uncle told me where Grandpa was born."

What Grandma? What Uncle? What Grandpa?

You may know to whom you are referring--will someone else?

If you indicate in the first paragraph that you are talking about "Grandma Matilda Johnson," it's not necessary to refer to her using that complete phrase in every sentence that follows. That makes your prose bulky. However, otherwise you should be clear about exactly to whom you are referring.

This is especially true in families where names are used more than once. My mother has three Aunt Ruths. One was always referred to with her last name, one was Ruth, and one was Ruthie.

The point is what is clear to you might not be clear to someone in fifty years.


  1. I have posted one blog (http://frustratedgenealogist.blogspot.com/) showing some tableware belonging to a relative. The focus of the blog is the tea set and the woman who owned it. Other people in the blog are named by relationship only.

    I did this in this manner because I wished to focus on this woman only. Now I wonder: is this going to be confusing to other family members (cousins I don't yet know of who may be following my blog)?

    Do you care to comment on my comment?


  2. Oh dear, what wise advise! I now own an item inherited by my gr-grandmother(I know which one)from her grandmother. My mother left a note saying my gr-grandmother indicated her grandmother owned the item but didn't say which one. Could be G1(1757-1792) or G2(1769-1861). I wish I knew, to better research the item and know its provenance.