Different spellings of name on same record

Anyone who does research on Italian immigrants to the U.S., especially those who didn't read or write, is used to seeing variant spellings of surnames--doubled consonants where the name has one, an "o" at the end instead of an "i." If a document has Caffarelli, Cafarella, or Caparelli instead of Cafarelli, I transcribe what I see in the citation. But is there a convention for writing a reference note for a vital record with two spellings of the subject's name where one is another step removed from the correct spelling based on the child's Italian birth record?

I'm attaching a digital image of a photocopy I ordered from the New York City Municipal Archives several years ago. The document is a baby's 1893 Certificate and Record of Death. The deceased's name is written in two places--on the Certificate form at the top and the section for record details that is laid out at 90 degrees across the bottom. The surname on the certificate is written "Camparelli," while the record detail has "Caparelli." This strikes me as enough of a difference to warrant including both in the citation to aid others in finding it, and if so, what's the best way to do that?

The child's actual surname was Cafarelli, and it's also possible that what looks to me like a lower-case "p" is meant to be an "f," but I haven't been able to determine that yet by comparing other records in the same hand. 

Thanks for your help!

Lesley K. Cafarelli

Submitted byEEon Sat, 11/26/2022 - 09:49

Hello, Lesley, I'm assuming you've seen the general advice on misspelled names at EE 2.16 and 13.32, covering somewhat different situations.  As indicated there, EE's citation would copy a misspelled name exactly as it appears on the document or exactly as the "official office" has spelled it. That exactness is needed for retrieval. But after copying the name exactly as it appears, EE would then add the "correct" spelling in square editorial brackets. In a case such as this in which a death certificate uses two different spellings, EE would use the spelling from the first line, then add a sentence to the basic citation—a discursive note—to mention/explain the second spelling later in the document.

Submitted byLKCon Thu, 12/01/2022 - 15:44

Thanks, EE. Yes, I always use the name as written but wondered if there might be a "shorthand" for a situation like this, such as the use of brackets or a slash. Adding a note about the second spelling was my backup plan, and that's what I'll do.

I'm grateful for this wonderful resource.


Thanks for the kind words, Leslie. Re the use of "shorthand" in situations like this, many researchers adopt their own "shorthand." The issue is whether others who use the citations correctly understand what the shorthand represents.  Evidence Style citations lean toward completeness, so there will be no misunderstanding.