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Old 05-01-2013, 06:11 AM
 
22,770 posts, read 25,230,013 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PA2UK View Post
If you're basing this off of census records
i'm not, i assume census records were taken orally.

when i say they were illiterate, i'm referring specifically to my experience reading revolutionary war pension applications. these would often mention the literacy of the veteran in question, and the variations in spelling.
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:13 PM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
21,566 posts, read 26,190,928 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by le roi View Post
i'm not, i assume census records were taken orally.

when i say they were illiterate, i'm referring specifically to my experience reading revolutionary war pension applications. these would often mention the literacy of the veteran in question, and the variations in spelling.
The point is that literacy has nothing to do with the spelling of names. Even literate people might spell their own names differently at different times. Consider the spellings in wills and estate records, where the person recording the document was obviously literate but simple names are not spelled the way we would expect them to be. The use of the character that looks like an f for the first s in a double s caused me considerable difficulty in one of my searches until I discovered someone transcribing a marriage record mistook a z for that symbol. In that era, you might say spelling did not count. It just did not matter how you or someone else spelled your name.

In fact, it was Noah Webster who led the charge to standardize American English spelling.

The American Spelling Book, by Noah Webster (1800?)

Webster was abetted by Benjamin Franklin, who not only wanted to reform spelling but to change the alphabet:

The Case for Spelling Reform, by Benjamin Franklin - Essays on the English Language
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:29 PM
 
Location: NYC
1,033 posts, read 1,352,660 times
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going to have to check these out later on.
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Old 05-02-2013, 02:08 PM
 
11,911 posts, read 9,650,978 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shiphead View Post
Awesome site but.... I bet most Americans have their last name because their guberment told them to change it to something more... "American." Only reason I know what my real last name is because my grandfather kept his immigration papers. Thankfully they kept it on that at least.
Oftentimes, if people didn't choose to change their last names for integration purposes, the officials at Ellis Island or whatever other checkpoint immigrants came through couldn't understand what people were saying when they would say their name. So it would be written down wrong (spelled differently usually), and from then on their last name was changed. A lot of name changing was due to language barriers, as well.
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Old 05-02-2013, 02:32 PM
bjh bjh started this thread
Status: "That's a discovery, is it?" (set 23 hours ago)
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
26,263 posts, read 22,820,621 times
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Clerks anywhere at any time wrote their interpretation of what was being said. Standardization is a state of mind.
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