14 May 2013
Names and naming conventions – sometimes they seem to help us and sometimes they don’t! I once researched the name Hezekiah Farrow (sounds unique enough, right?) to find that apparently every branch of the family for several generations loved that name. So, where it “seemed” like a unique name, I ultimately found at least ½ a dozen who lived in a small area.
On the other hand, I have researched John Smith (sounds quite popular, right?) to find that only one Smith family lived not just in the county and in the adjacent counties.
How about that nice Scottish family who followed the convention of naming their children after family members – we gotta love them. What about the descendant who went on to name his children after historical figures – not so nearly as happy with him.
My parents used nice and conventional names of the time – Diane, Debbie and Christine – whereas the names of my children and their cousins are pretty unconventional names.
So, our understanding of names requires that we have some context, or try and develop some context to help us better understand what were they thinking as they named their children?!?! And, forget about spelling – it didn’t count, really!
A great place to get started is by reading Names -- A Blessing or a Curse (by Genealogy’s Star).
Is there additional guidance about “names” that you can share?
Some Upfront with NGS posts about names:
- Girlsʼ names change 7 times more than boysʼ since 1940 Census
- Ellis Island Name Change Rumors Persist
- Variant Names Project
- Baby Name Wizard -- Track Through Time Popular Names!
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