Issue 2305: Mary Isdale MacNab

Mary Isdale MacNab (Person)
Stephen Webb (SJW) – (copies requested)
Assigned to
Murrough Landon

Please correct Isdale to include an e throughout. There is plenty of evidence that her maiden name which was then kept when she married Allan MacNab to become Mary Isdale MacNab The error seems to have occurred when RSCDS published ‘Scottish Country Dance Book of Four Set Dances’ as Collected by Mrs Mary Isdal MacNab of Vancouver .... This was her first set of MacNab Dances the subsequent 8 sets of dances were all given her correct spelling eg ‘Four Traditional Scottish Dances 2nd Set’ Collected by Mary Isdale MacNab. Of course Mary was still living then and would have been sure to have the initial error remedied in these subsequent printings. For some unknown reason when RSCDS published Vols 1&2 of Scottish Dances in 1987 they said Collected by Mary Isdal MacNab but this wrong too. Look at Muriel Johnstone's Recordings of these Vols and you will see she correctly spells Isdale with an e. I have dances published by MIM’s niece all spelled Isdale. She too would know. As if further proof was necessary but Mary’s Will begins ‘This is the last will and testament of Mary Isdale MacNab, Dancing Teacher, of 2195 East Pender Street, in the City of Vancouver ...’ Many thanks

Previous Actions

  • Date  Feb. 25, 2021, 10:43 a.m.
  • User  Stephen Webb (SJW)

New issue submitted

  • Date  Feb. 26, 2021, 8:36 p.m.
  • User  Murrough Landon (murrough)

Assigned changed to »murrough« (previously »None«)
Disposition changed to »Needs help« (previously »New«)

Thanks. I agree that "Isdale" does seem correct. Though as you also point out there do seem to be a large number of published references to "Isdal", including on the title pages of RSCDS books. This may mean people searching are more likely to use that.

Its a pity that, at the moment, the database does not support the concept of a spelling alias for Person records.

Before changing the name I wonder if other editors have opinions on the best way to deal with this?

  • Date  Feb. 27, 2021, 4:16 a.m.
  • User  Anselm Lingnau (anselm)

Eric wrote in a reply to the notification e-mail (which goes to an address that only I receive):

Anselm already has code for aliases. Would it not be relatively easy for him to patch that into the "Persons" code?

I'm unhappy with how people and their names are handled in the database in the first place, and I don't want to compound this further. Arguably we should separate people and their names because people can go through a whole lot of names in their lifetime and having only one name per person is quite limiting (the “same as” hack is exactly that, a hack, and it breaks the Holy Writ of relational databases, namely normalisation. Alan Paterson must have had an off-day because that sort of thing is quite unlike him otherwise).

Once the big rewrite is through we can tackle this more comprehensively. This is not the time or place to go into details but there is a (tentative) plan. In the meantime we will have to live with documenting the issue in the “Extra Info” field. We've been able to cope for over a decade now, a few more weeks or months won't kill us.

  • Date  Feb. 28, 2021, 6:56 p.m.
  • User  Murrough Landon (murrough)

Disposition changed to »Fixed« (previously »Needs help«)

Name changed to "Isdale" and extra note added. Also a link to one Reel article. Doubtless there are many others...

New Action