My new favorite example for why we should NOT use Given Names to deduce a person’s gender.
Famous (male) writer of Western novels Zane Grey was born Pearl Zane Gray. And Zane is a gender-neutral family Surname.
In many cultures the parents of a child want a continuation of family names, they then give one of their children, usually the first born child, the names of a grandparent or parent, whether the child be male or female, so you often find that male children are given names that are normally associated with the female gender, and vice versa. Therefor a gender cannot be deduced from given names.
Mary and Carol are common 'female' names often given to males in some cultures. Others are a matter of misspelling or just not realizing that one is the female version and the other is the male version like Francis and Frances.
In indexing it is just better and more accurate to not assume gender without it being overtly declared.
Great example. I made the mistake of assuming gender when I started.
However, this works for baptisms. What about Marriage records, do you assume genders when not specified or mark it as BLANK?
For example, you have a record that says John and Anna but doesn't say Bachelor or anything like that. Do you leave it as blank as FamilySearch suggests or assume the gender?, given that in old records the name of the male always comes first
When FamilySearch has instructions they are not really suggestions. That is the contract that was signed between FamilySearch and the people who own the records. We would not want owners of records to refuse to allow us access because of indexers not following the instructions in the contract. If the instructions say to not assume then please do not assume. Some will let you assume under certain conditions but you have to read the instructions to know which guideline your batch follows.
We appreciate the work you all do! What a blessing to researchers to be able to more easily find family records because of the work you have done!
@annewandering Thanks for the answer.
John, I like your "new favorite example"! I didn't know that Pearl was his first name!
I hadn’t either, Lisa. The first experience I recall with feminine-sounding (to my “modern” ear) male names was learning as a young person that John Wayne’s birth first name was Marion, as in Marion Michael Morrison.