Monday, September 13, 2010

Family Memoirs: What's in a Name?

In my last post, I talked about personal migration patterns.  I emailed that to some family members to encourage them to accept the challenge of writing their history.  In the response I got from my Uncle Bob, he referred to me as Maid Marian.

My Uncle Bob has always referred to me as Maid Marian.  He is the only one who does.  It's a term of endearment, which, from him, I absolutely love.

It got me thinking about names. There is the name that is visible on official family records and then there is the name that family members actually call us.  I know that in certain Spanish or French cultures where Marie/Maria or Jean is used as the first name, the second name is actually the name that is used with family or friends.

In my family, my name is the only one that is not a diminutive or nick name.  My name is Marian and that's what people call me.  But my two brothers are very different.  They each have nicknames/family names that are fairly different from their formal names.  Both of the nicknames were whims of my mother.  I'm not sure why she didn't come up with one for me! Many families have names that are used only by family members while the more formal names are used by less intimate associates or sometimes not at all.

What names are used in your family? Have you ever given thought to the fact that your descendants will not be aware of these names?  They will know you by the names you leave behind in official records.  If you want your descendants to know you by your family name, write it down.  Take a moment to write a few paragraphs about your siblings, parents, children, etc.  Leave a breadcrumb for your descendants to know you better.

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