Showing posts with label names. Show all posts
Showing posts with label names. Show all posts

10 July 2013

Ellis Island -- Names were NOT changed! A very persistent myth perpetuated in our genealogical world ...


There are always persistent stories about names being changed at Ellis Island

These are mostly just that, stories.  The New York Public Library did a great post called Why Your Family Name Was Not Changed at Ellis Island (and One That Was) which goes into great detail about the process at Ellis Island.  Essentially, documentation about the naming of emigrants was NOT created at Ellis Island, it was create in the embarkation port or on board ship.  The article also goes into great detail about “1” person whose name was changed.

That said, many emigrants DID change their name shortly after arriving!  My own paternal family arrived as Kujanpää (pronounced Gui ump a) and within a year they were Acey (pronounced Ace ee) – maybe they thought the new surname was easier??!?!  That falls into the number one question I would ask my great-great grandfather – why did you change the name from Kujanpää to Acey – a not very common, often misspelled and mispronounced surname?

Read more about this very common myth:




Editor’s Note: Previous Upfront with NGS article on this topic, Ellis Island Name Change Rumors Persist.



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14 May 2013

Names -- A Blessing or a Curse



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:



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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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Want to learn more about interacting with the blog, please read Hyperlinks, Subscribing and Comments -- How to Interact with Upfront with NGS Blog posts!
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
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Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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27 August 2012

Girlsʼ names change 7 times more than boysʼ since 1940 Census

Source -- Social Security Administration (link in article)

I don’t come cross too many “young” Diane’s and I’m always pleasantly surprised when I come across anyone who share’s my name!  

My test of a forename’s popularity is whether you find it “printed” on merchandise when on vacation!  Fortunately or unfortunately for my children, we never find their names printed on anything.  Maybe I was a little too successful in giving them unique names!

This comes to mind because last month findmypast.com published a piece talking about baby names and their popularity as found in the 1940 census and today! Here is an abbreviated excerpt.

The most popular baby names for American girls at the time of the 1940 U.S. Census have changed since then seven times more than the top names for boys the same year, reveals a study by genealogy website, findmypast.com...

Findmypast.com researchers analyzed the records of the U.S. Social Security Administration, which has recorded American baby names since 1879... 

None of the top 10 girls' names in 1940 even make today's top 100, while seven of the top 10 boys' names do so and three (James, David, William) make the top 20.

"Baby names are like period pieces", says Josh Taylor, genealogist for findmypast.com. "Some recall a particular era, which can make them clues when researching family history."

Read the full PR piece.


Back to my name – Diane.  I visited the Social Security Administration (Baby Name Data) website to learn more about names and their popularity!  In the year I was born, my name was 19th in popularity and the list includes my husband’s name, my sister’s name, her husband’s name, etc.  So, we definitely seem to be a product of “our generation!”


And, how far my name has fallen!  For 2011, the name Diane is NOT in the top 1000 names, though the variant Diana is found in the 203rd spot!  I guess I’m more unique than I thought ....





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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.

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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
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Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
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23 February 2012

Variant Names Project

The purpose of this project is to create a comprehensive database of name variants that should be searched whenever a particular name is searched. As anyone who has done research knows, sometimes every document you find “spells” a surname and/or forename spelled differently?  Eventually your list of name variants can get pretty long!  When you are starting out, it can be hard to “know” what are all the different spellings that you need to be searching on are!  This project will help with that!

As stated on the project page ...

Currently, providers of genealogical records use algorithms like Soundex, or home-grown solutions to the problem of returning records with names that are spelled similarly and are likely matches for the searched-for name. A large part of genealogical expertise involves learning alternate spellings for the surnames in your tree. Why not share this knowledge with others?

The goal is to create a free resource that all genealogy websites use, so that genealogy searches are consistent across the Web.

Ancestry.com and WeRelate worked together to create an advanced algorithm for determining the level of similarity between two names. That algorithm was used to create the starting point for this database. The algorithm was used to find similarly-spelled names for the 200,000 most-frequent surnames and 70,000 most-frequent given names in Ancestry's database. This includes every name that appears more than once every 5,000,000 names in Ancestry's database. On average, 26 variants were found for each surname, and 32 variants were found for each given name...

In addition, BehindTheName.com has donated their excellent list of given name variants ... To the BehindTheName and Ancestry list of names ... additional variants from the WeRelate community, The New American Dictionary of Baby Names, and A Dictionary of Surnames [were included].

You can help! Review the database and provide your input!


Here is an example of what’s currently included for the surname FOUNTAIN, a name found in my family?


Were you able to add a name variant?  Or, were you helped by learning of one you hadn’t previously come across?  As always, please share with us!




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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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18 July 2011

Get Creative With Name Spellings -- Kimberly Powell, About.com

This article was originally published 7 July 2011 by Kimberly Powell, About.com Guide.  We are sharing an excerpt here of her article with a link to the full article since names and their spelling is so important to anyone’s genealogy research!

Our ancestors did it. The census takers did it. The transcribers did it. So we have to as well. It's a rare thing to find an ancestor whose name appears in historical records year after year spelled exactly the same way each time. Even a seemingly simple name such as Owens, will often appear as Owen, Owins, Owings or even Owns.

There are many creative ways to find alternate surname variations, but I also wanted to share an online tool that I find handy for this purpose. British Origins, one of the sites I use in my English research, employs a name search technology known as NameX. Created by Image Partners, NameX is based on a Last name thesaurus containing 75 million entries for 1.5 million distinct last names and a First name thesaurus containing over 3 million entries for 260,000 distinct first names. This generally results in fewer, more accurate name variants than Soundex…”






~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
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Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to UpfrontNGS@mosaicrpm.com.


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