Category: Family Names
By Antonia Malchik
I was sitting at the lunch table in fifth grade when I decided that if I ever had a daughter I’d name her something normal.
I grew up mainly in two different towns in Montana. In the first, all my friends had names I coveted: Katie, Stacy, Tiffany, Angie. Their names were pretty, and, importantly for an early 1980s childhood, normal. My name was not. I was named “Antonia” for Willa Cather’s novel My Ántonia, “Louise” after my maternal grandmother, and “Evgenia” after my father’s cousin who still lived in the Soviet Union where my father had grown up. All of which got shortened to the decidedly unmusical and definitely not normal “Nia.”
We have Penelope June and Malcolm Redding, and we’re expecting our third! My wonderful grandmother died a few days after I found out I was pregnant and we’d love to honor her if this baby is a girl. Her name was Bernice Vera.
My problems: our last name begins with an S and ends with a Z so I tend to steer very clear of first or middle names ending in S. Also, I like Bernice but I’m not sure that I love it.
What options do you see here? I know sometimes people honor relatives with a similar name. Do any stick out to you? Does Bernice S****z run together too much and sound muddy? Should we just put Vera as a middle name and call it good? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
The Name Sage replies:
By Laurie Scheuble
I have been working on marital naming research for 25 years. I study what names women choose when they marry and what surname they give their children.
Twenty-five years ago, I would have predicted that at least a quarter of women in the United States would keep their maiden name as their last name when they marry. I expected this because there was a tremendous amount of social change occurring and an expectation of equity in the treatment of women was becoming the social norm. On the contrary, the most recent data shows that only about 9% of women do keep their maiden names or hyphenate them with their husband’s last name when they marry.
Welcome to the thrilling and mysterious world of parenthood. And welcome too to the new and radically different world of baby names. In the interest of helping you make the best possible name choice for your child, here is your initiation guide to all that’s changed since every kid was named Jennifer and Jason.
My love for genealogy came from my interest in discovering names I had never heard before. There is something special about being able to connect yourself to a rare gem of a name, and being able to connect that name to your ancestor’s history.
In addition to individual names, there are also some interesting patterns I’ve noticed while researching the branches of my various family trees. Some eras favored word names while others preferred patriotic names. Some branches were filled with unique names, while others stuck with the more traditional. One trend I’ve noticed is that “sibset” naming wasn’t considered until the 20th century. There often seemed to be a wide variety of names among siblings, yet, it wasn’t strange to have two sons named Joseph or three daughters named Elizabeth.