Welcome to the BillionGraves Community! An amazing community of users from every corner of the globe here to help you in your BillionGraves endeavors! Join the movement and connect with others to create the world's largest GPS cemetery database!
Welcome to BillionGraves Q&A, where you can ask questions, receive support, and look at answers from other members of the BillionGraves community.

3,164 questions

4,100 answers


2,724 users

Husband and wife are listed and wife has own last name, do I record that family name for her?

0 like 0 dislike
I've been searching for a definitive answer but haven't seen one spelled out yet.

Many graves I have seen are listed like so:


John Smith          Jane Doe

1900-2000           1920-2005

Based on the instruction to enter exactly as shown I would put in an entry for John as the given name and Smith as the family name and then another entry for Jane as the given name and Doe as the family name.

Is this correct or should I be putting Smith as Jane's last name and Doe as her maiden name? Some graves specifically say Nee, then I know to put that name as the maiden name but if it doesn't that is technically their name?

I understand that it would probably be more beneficial to have both her names so she can be found in a search.

I want to make sure I am doing things correctly. I saw a duplicate translation for a grave I did and it comes up as Jane Doe Smith. Not sure if that means they put Doe and Smith in the Family name field or if that's how it shows if you add it to the maiden name field.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

asked Oct 6, 2017 in Other by julie.i.cassidy BG Beginner (130 points)

1 Answer

1 like 0 dislike
There is not an easy answer to your question as the topic of a woman's name maiden or married is not always obvious. And, it can be variable depending on culture and local and family custom.

In most of the areas of the US that were settled by UK immigrants, the wifes maiden name may be on the stone, as in your example, but she was known by her husband's surname at time of death. Alas, you can not assume that a "surname" in the second position is a maiden family name. It might also be a familial surname but given to her as a second or middle name at her birth.  An example would be a woman whose mother or  grandmother's maiden name was Stewart, and she was given the name of Mary Stewart Powers at birth. She later married a Mr. Martin. Her stone might read Mary Stewart, wife of James Martin, or it might read Mary S Powers, wife of James Martin. You would not be able to know which of those was her maiden name.

However, if you can do a little research (as in Ancestry) very often you can find another sources that will tell you if that is a familial honor name, a maiden name, or a previous marriage name.

All that being said, some users will transcribe what you have described as Doe in her maiden name field, and Smith in the Family name field, with the understanding that the search engines will find here regardless of where the Doe is placed.

I also think we need to be more careful with recent and very modern graves, as there are now examples of same-*** couples and those in which the wife keeps her maiden name as her also legal name. .

I really wish BG would give us several surname fields, as in Maiden, 1st Marriage, 2nd Marriage, 3rd Marriage,

Hope this helps. If you have to "interpret" try to educate yourself on the local name customs as best you can.

answered Oct 7, 2017 by dswright BG Master (34,390 points)