by Delia

While assisting customers here in The Genealogy Center, I have run across yet another "name" problem. Oh, we all know about names being mis-spelled (I grew up having to correct the spelling and pronunciation of both my first and last names on a regular basis), and Melissa recently discussed nicknames, but only once before had I run into the transposing of first and last names until the last month or so when I've seen it several times

This is primarily an indexing error, and occurs when someone has a first name that may have been a last name at one time, or a last name that is used commonly as a first name. You may be searching for "Moses Thomas," but the indexer has it as "Moses, Thomas." Or you may run across a "Beverly James" in your research who might be indexed as "Beverly, James." Of course, "Beverly James" could be a man or a woman, too. I have also seen this error with names that are totally unfamiliar to the culture of the person doing the indexing, for example, in more unusual Hispanic names.

So if you are searching for an unusual name, or a name consisting of names which could be first names or surnames, try transposing them. You may know your ancestor's name, but the indexer may not.