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Modifying Surname Tables for Adoptees and Patronymics

Once you have created a basic family chart, you may realize you need a modified surname table to reflect the complexities of real historical families.

How a Basic Surname Table Fails

A basic genealogy surname table is a cheat sheet for 62 direct line ancestral family names to your 4th great-parents. If you haven’t made one already, then visit this blog post and watch the tutorial.

However, few of us have simple family trees.

Heck, I don’t. My Grannie was adopted.

If you need to modify a surname table to reflect adoptions, illegitimacy, surname changes, or patronymics, then you need to watch this video.

Surname Tables: How to Show Name Changes, Adoptions, and Patronymics

Modifying a Surname Table is an Art

With adoptions, you’ll likely create either an entirely biological surname table or a combined biological/adoptive line family tree. To do that you’ll add more columns and repeat the process of creating a surname table.

If you need to show patronymics, you’ll add a paternal column (which isn’t needed in a basic surname table). Then you’ll use numbers or icons to connect the patronymic lines.

The more complex your tree, the more you’ll need to use reference marks. You can use letters, numbers, letters, and numbers, or emojis to help remember connections between individuals.

Just keep this piece of advice in mind. KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Don’t overload this modified surname table with visual clutter, or you lose the power of the tool. But do use your creativity to make it work for your needs.

surname table with text - Modified Surname Tables for adoption, surname changes, and patronymics
Let others know about surname tables on Pinterest.

Additional Ressources

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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