Working on the Traces through Time project has meant spending many months staring at long lists of names. So much so that I feel I know many of the people who served in the First World War, especially those appearing in our Admiralty and AIR series.
Traces through Time is all about linking people’s records together, and the more unusual someone’s name is the more confident we are that two records containing that name are referring to the same person. So, wonderful names like Sylveanus Jinkins Orford and Fawcett Hagbert Bugge seem as unique as a set of fingerprints, at least for a generation or two. However, names don’t necessarily need to be unusual to make them unique; some people just have a lot of them, like Albert Edward Christian George Andrew Patrick David Wright. Of course rare names don’t necessarily signify uniqueness – of the 13 Spreadboroughs who served in the Royal Navy during WWI, two were called Bertie and a third was called Herbert. Without taking into consideration other information, we could easily fall into the trap of thinking they are one and the same. Continue reading »