Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present): - Header Forms -
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Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present)

Articles from Juliana de Luna and Lillia de Vaux

- Header Forms -

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March 2011 - Juliana de Luna Link to LoAR Cover Letter

This month, the issue of undated header forms has come up a couple of times. It's often true that header forms in important resources for naming are undated. One reason is that those books tend to focus on early citations of the name. Therefore, all is not lost if a header form is not dated. But at the same time, you have to demonstrate that the header form is compatible with period spellings (and at a time when the name was in use).

There are several ways to go about doing this. If it's a language that has dictionaries that deal with period forms, especially with the kinds of collections we see in English (the Middle English Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary) or in Spanish (CORDE), then you're in luck. Searching on the preferred spelling is likely to get you somewhere.

Google Books is probably your next best option. You must be careful here, because many books replace period forms with standard modern ones. What you're looking for is a source that includes your desired spelling as well as other spellings for the same name element, or at least a variety of spellings for very similar elements. You have to be careful, because some sources standardize only given names or only placenames. A strategy that I often use is to search on both the form I'm looking for (usually the standard modern form) and a spelling I know dates to period. Once you have found it, be sure that it's a dated form, and not one used only in comments about the document.

Finally, don't be afraid to ask the experts. It's often better to ask before a submission gets to Laurel, as it's easier to engage in a back and forth discussion with the submitter about spellings. But, if all else fails, send it up! There's no guarantee that we'll be able to find the header spelling, but if you don't ask, we won't know. Please, if you do this, be clear about what the submitter wants and what the submitter will accept in the Letter of Intent item. But don't forget: in some languages, commenters have been working miracles.

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