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KarenJones



Joined: 24 May 2019
Replies: 13
Location: Alaska, United States

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Post Posted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:21 am      Post subject: A different question about Given names
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I am trying to account for differences in given names on records. There is another post here that I read with same topic and I read the responses. I have a little bit different question: In the US it is "normal" to use what we would call "nicknames" or an English version of a name (Franciszek/Frank), etc. HOWEVER, is it common or normal to use, what we would call a "middle" name instead of the given name for any reason? I have seen my GGF as Jan/John, but use Paul as his name on MOST all records. In this case might Jan be his given (Jan) name and (Paul) be his middle name possibly? I just cannot account for it. [BTW, his surname is Skrzypecki]. ALSO, for my 2nd GGF, I see some people stating his name as August Paul, but I have two death certificates from two siblings with the name of Herman Paul. I cannot account for these name differences with other records right now because I am at a brick wall. So, I am asking just in general if people always used their birth given name, or was it common to use another name, such as a "middle" name.
Thank you for any insight to this.
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Sophia



Joined: 05 Oct 2014
Replies: 557

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Post Posted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:26 pm      Post subject: Re: A different question about Given names
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KarenJones wrote:
I am trying to account for differences in given names on records. There is another post here that I read with same topic and I read the responses. I have a little bit different question: In the US it is "normal" to use what we would call "nicknames" or an English version of a name (Franciszek/Frank), etc. HOWEVER, is it common or normal to use, what we would call a "middle" name instead of the given name for any reason? I have seen my GGF as Jan/John, but use Paul as his name on MOST all records. In this case might Jan be his given (Jan) name and (Paul) be his middle name possibly? I just cannot account for it. [BTW, his surname is Skrzypecki]. ALSO, for my 2nd GGF, I see some people stating his name as August Paul, but I have two death certificates from two siblings with the name of Herman Paul. I cannot account for these name differences with other records right now because I am at a brick wall. So, I am asking just in general if people always used their birth given name, or was it common to use another name, such as a "middle" name.
Thank you for any insight to this.


Hi,
There are several reasons why someone's name might not be what you expect.
In a family where a child is given the same name as a parent, the subsequent confusion in daily life can lead the child to use their middle name instead. On official documents, however, they may still use their true given name.
Sometimes, a person just does not like the name they are given. Take the case of the writer Henry David Thoreau. His actual name was David Henry, but he switched his usage to Henry David in his twenties.
In some German names, you need to be aware of the idea of a "Rufname" (loosely, "call name"). A child will be given two or more "forenames" but only one will be the one which they are actually called. The Rufname may be underlined in documents (but only if a genealogist is lucky). Take a look sometime at Johann Sebastian Bach's family tree, and see how many of his siblings had Johann as their first name!
You have to keep an open mind when you are looking at documents, and create a sort of hierarchy of which documents you believe more than others. If a name is on a birth certificate, that's a very strong case. If a name is written by a census taker, take the spelling with several grains of salt. If a name is given on a death certificate as the deceased's parent, know that this information was given by someone in a time of stress who did not have to produce any document to prove what they were saying that name was.
Then again, sometimes you have to look at the documents that you are sure are the same person, and ask yourself if there is any possibility that they are two different people.
Hope this helps.
Sophia
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KarenJones



Joined: 24 May 2019
Replies: 13
Location: Alaska, United States

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Post Posted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:36 am      Post subject:
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Thank you for the response. Karen
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Sophia



Joined: 05 Oct 2014
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Post Posted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 11:31 am      Post subject:
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Hi Karen,
I'm not sure to what extent my input was helpful to you. Perhaps getting more specific would be useful? If you want to, you can post images here of some of the documents that you are looking at and members of the forum may be able to help.
I think some people find what is available through online search engines and don't know how to progress beyond that into source records. Also, if you are relying on what others have posted online, such as family trees on Ancestry.com, (your comment, "I see some people stating his name as August Paul" makes me wonder if that is the case) then you may be stuck because of someone else's error(s).
Best of luck in your search,
Sophia
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KarenJones



Joined: 24 May 2019
Replies: 13
Location: Alaska, United States

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Post Posted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:29 pm      Post subject:
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Sophia,
I think you basically validated my own thinking. In this case, I think I am about the only person doing any real research. Two of us who have done some research have "informants" that would seem to know who the parent was on the death record. However, on other trees, it seems to be the typical copying without verifying or lack of records. However, as you know, someone may actually have a record that they don't attach to tree and that person may actually have some information. I was looking at it from a different perspective...what were the "customs" for that country or that area where my ancestors lived. We obviously can't use our "American" way of thinking and apply it everywhere. Sometimes the lack of the cultural issues or what is customary is unknown to us, so I like to ask. I just have to keep searching for the birth records and hope I locate that village. I know I am getting closer with every piece of information, and through the help of people on various forums like yourself. I will "keep on searchin'". Karen
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KarenJones



Joined: 24 May 2019
Replies: 13
Location: Alaska, United States

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Post Posted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:29 pm      Post subject:
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Sophia,
I think you basically validated my own thinking. In this case, I think I am about the only person doing any real research. Two of us who have done some research have "informants" that would seem to know who the parent was on the death record. However, on other trees, it seems to be the typical copying without verifying or lack of records. However, as you know, someone may actually have a record that they don't attach to tree and that person may actually have some information. I was looking at it from a different perspective...what were the "customs" for that country or that area where my ancestors lived. We obviously can't use our "American" way of thinking and apply it everywhere. Sometimes the lack of the cultural issues or what is customary is unknown to us, so I like to ask. I just have to keep searching for the birth records and hope I locate that village. I know I am getting closer with every piece of information, and through the help of people on various forums like yourself. I will "keep on searchin'". Karen
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