I am working on a history of pioneering tradeswomen in which several women's last names change during the two-decade time period. What is the best way to deal with this? Should I include both names at the outset? Explain the new last name when first referring to the woman after the marriage? Use both last names following the marriage? The fact of these marriages is not part of the story told in the book.

I.e., Patty Wong was hired as one of the first electrical tradeswomen in 1974. Ten years later, she re-enters the story, but her name is now Patty Eng.

  • 1
    Perhaps you should look at genealogy sites and see how they do it.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 22:15

1 Answer 1


Ach! That's a pain, to do gracefully, isn't it?

I think, for clarity, and to avoid making a 'thing' of it, I'd say 'Patty Wong (who later became Patty Eng)' in your earlier passages.

And in the later ones, put: Patty Eng (neé Wong) near the start of each passage about her.

You could, in the earlier passages shorten it, to 'Patty Wong (later, Patty Eng) or (later known as Patty Eng) or even (AKA Patty Eng).


  • née is only to show a woman's unmarried name. Someone can americanize their name and it would not be née.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 22:16
  • @Lambie In that case just change née to formerly. e.g. Patty Eng (formerly Wong). The latter covers both maiden surnames, as well as any previous names held for whatever reason.
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 22:27
  • @WS2 Indeed, I agree.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 23:50

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