When re-coding to RDA we are supposed to re-evaluate the AAP from scratch, so now would be the time to make any changes, such as the birth date.


RDA gives a lot of guidance, as well as a lot of exceptions on preferred name selection.


See for guidance on spelling variations.



variant spellings of a person’s name are found


these variations are not the result of different transliterations


choose the form of name found in the first manifestation received.

For spelling differences resulting from different transliterations, see

Variant names. Record another spelling of the name as a variant name for person (see



I guess the main question is whether the difference between M’ and Mc is merely a spelling variation or whether it is more of an earlier form vs a later form, in which case the rule to choose either the later form of name or the form the person is best known by would apply.




From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Chris Baer
Sent: Monday, July 17, 2017 9:43 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Question about orthography in personal names


I recently had to review a pamphlet co-authored by Joseph McIlvaine, a Whig politician in early 19th century Pennsylvania and secretary to the Board of Canal Commissioners, which in turn led me to check nr92033232 “M’Ilvaine, Joseph, 1799 or 1800-1838.”  The either/or birthdate was arrived at by extrapolating from his age at death.  In fact, he was definitely born in 1800, from several sources, plus the fact that his brother’s tombstone has a birth date of 1799. 


If it is worth correcting the birth date, what about the changing orthography whereby a lower case “c” replaced an apostrophe as the way of rendering “Mc”?  The family is generally known as “McIlvaine.”  The NAR for his father, Senator Joseph McIlvaine  (nr93035678) and brother Bishop Charles Pettit McIlvaine (n 86838935) both have the AAP as “McIlvaine.”  In the case of the senator, the AAP was taken from the Congressional biographical directory, although the signature on the 1824 work was the older “M’Ilvaine.”  The bishop clearly lived into the period when “Mc” was the normal spelling.


What, if anything should be changed here?  If “almost” is “good enough to retrieve a work,” then probably nothing.  The signatures of father and son will most likely be found only buried in government documents.  They are more “talked about” in the press and contemporary political letters than authors of works.  If the rule to copy what you see in the work is ironclad, then the senator’s name might be changed to “M’Ilvaine.”  If, as in genealogy and family history, family has a coherence apart from individual members, does consistency in surname matter?   In the larger sense, what does one do with obsolete orthography?


Chris Baer

Hagley Museum and Library