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Old 11-12-2020, 09:10 PM
 
2,059 posts, read 1,648,477 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjh View Post
I sometimes wonder what the point was of having middle names that were never recorded anywhere except as an initial. Not on any certificate, birth, marriage or death or anywhere else. It's just kind of funny. WW1 and WW2 draft records help a lot by recording full names, but that's only males and only their generations. Sometimes a marriage cert has revealed a middle name not recorded anywhere else.

I'm working on a great uncle whose middle name I can make a guess at based on naming patterns of relatives. I think it may be Edward, but there really is no telling. It could be Emmett or Edgar. Then I start to look at one of his wives and realize I don't know her middle name either. It's probably the same as her mother's because it's an unusual letter, but there doesn't appear to be a record of the name for either of them. Another relative I only found his middle name in his Civil War pension file. It is nowhere else.

For decades now we couldn't not report a full name, which will help future genealogists. Sometimes makes me wonder why more people in the past didn't report their middle names somewhere in their records.

Back centuries ago, I have reported on every different spelling and common nickname for each of my ancestors. Some had as many a ten different name spellings. It was common then, as now, to give each child a biblical first name. To do otherwise was to receive the wrath of the church. In the agrarian economy which necessitated large families, its no trick to group them all together using the early census reports.
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Old 11-12-2020, 09:39 PM
 
9,347 posts, read 4,102,089 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thoreau424 View Post
A lot of my ancestors in the 19th century used their middle name as the main name (instead of their first name). So they liked to downplay the first name and only use an initial for that. They went so long minimizing their first name (and only using the initial) that most records lost track of what the initial represented.

Also, it seems many in the 19th century minimized both first and middle name, and just used two initials and their last name. That was apparently enough information to distinguish one person from another.
It's very common in the South for people to use their middle names instead of their first names.

I am a good example of that. My first name was my grandmother's name and my middle name was a shortened version of my mothers name.

From the beginning they called me by my middle name not to confuse me with my still living grandmother and my mother.

It's a pain because for the early part of my life I had teachers and others calling me by a first name I didnt use. Then I insisted that businesses and employers change my records to my middle name/maiden name and married name.

Then 9/11 happened and Real ID act and in order to get ID's that allow me to fly and a drivers license I have to revert to my birth name according to state laws.

Now none of my governmental issued ID matches most of my financial accounts. At some point, I will have to cough up dollars to have my name legally changed to the one I use.
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Old 11-12-2020, 10:15 PM
 
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I believe it was a southern thing also to give a person no name at all, but to strictly use initials as their name. The military would often list such names as M. (only) B. (only) Jones. Sometimes the parentheses would be deleted and the person would end up referred to as Monly Bonly Jones. Similar to how John Smith, having no middle name, transitioned through John (nmn) Smith to John N.M.N. Smith.
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Old 11-13-2020, 08:31 AM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
9,611 posts, read 15,057,822 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjh View Post
Clearly.

Yeah, I'm talking about people who did have a middle name, hence "except as an initial". It's not really a request for explanation, more an observation. Maybe some other genealogists get the gist. Maybe not. Oh, well. Either way. *shrug*
My mistake, sorry for trying to help.
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Old 11-13-2020, 08:03 PM
bjh bjh started this thread
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
38,907 posts, read 25,701,316 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blondy View Post
. . . Then 9/11 happened and Real ID act and in order to get ID's that allow me to fly and a drivers license I have to revert to my birth name according to state laws.

Now none of my governmental issued ID matches most of my financial accounts. At some point, I will have to cough up dollars to have my name legally changed to the one I use.
I was gonna say, if you change your name legally you don't have to use a birth name. I understand you can save a lot by filing the papers yourself instead of hiring a lawyer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kokonutty View Post
I believe it was a southern thing also to give a person no name at all, but to strictly use initials as their name. The military would often list such names as M. (only) B. (only) Jones. Sometimes the parentheses would be deleted and the person would end up referred to as Monly Bonly Jones. Similar to how John Smith, having no middle name, transitioned through John (nmn) Smith to John N.M.N. Smith.
Except it's not just Southern. I believe it's more down to an era than a place. I see first initials used by men in the 1800s and into the mid 1900s. I see it in New England and old England too.
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Old 11-13-2020, 08:13 PM
 
10,087 posts, read 6,187,819 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjh View Post
I was gonna say, if you change your name legally you don't have to use a birth name. I understand you can save a lot by filing the papers yourself instead of hiring a lawyer.


Except it's not just Southern. I believe it's more down to an era than a place. I see first initials used by men in the 1800s and into the mid 1900s. I see it in New England and old England too.
Do you see the abbreviations of common male names that used to be widely used? Jo or Jn for John, Wm for William, Hy for Henry, Th for Thomas and so forth? Even some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence used those instead of their full names.
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Old 11-14-2020, 01:21 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
Do you see the abbreviations of common male names that used to be widely used? Jo or Jn for John, Wm for William, Hy for Henry, Th for Thomas and so forth? Even some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence used those instead of their full names.
I believe Jo was used for Joseph, not John.
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Old 11-14-2020, 06:09 AM
 
Location: NJ
15,502 posts, read 24,418,787 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PA2UK View Post
Some people didn't have a middle name. If you're not finding one recorded anywhere on any record, maybe it's because they didn't have one. In some cultures (I think German is one of the exceptions), middle names weren't very common before the late 18th century (I think around the 1780s/90s), but even after that point, you can find people who simply didn't have a middle name.

As for why it almost never got recorded and then there's one record where it is, it could be the middle name was only given to tell relatives with the same name apart within their family, so outside the family it wasn't really necessary to record. Sometimes, middle names were only given as tradition or to carry on a name/surname from a maternal line and it wasn't really necessary for identification purposes. Maybe some people just didn't like their middle name. And when it comes to women, I think the fact that women weren't recorded as much as men were to begin with plays a part in it. And even when they were recorded, it was often as "the widow of John Smith" or "Mrs. John Smith" or "daughter of John Smith", etc. If they often aren't even considered important enough to record in the first place, and when they are, it's sometimes not even by name but in how they relate to the men in their life, they are hardly going to be considered important enough to include a middle name when they actually do get recorded by name.

So there's probably a lot of possible reasons for this, I imagine it depends on the situation.
Neither of my parents have middle names. I guess they're not popular in Hungary.

My uncle (dad's brother) told me his birth name was V. 1st name, last name. He said the same for my dad and his father. He's not sure what the V. even means, he thinks it's similar to Mr.

My 2nd MIL born in Germany to Polish parents was not given a middle name at birth. Her 1st name was Klara. The German kids used to tease her for not having a German name, so her mother nick named her Heidi. After she to the US in 1947, she used Heidi Klara. It wasn't an issue until a few years ago, she had to go to court to legally change her 1st name to Heidi with Klara being her middle name because all of her legal documents had Heidi Klara, not Klara Heidi. It was easier and cheaper to legally change her name then to change all of her legal documents.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
One other idea--My mom was not given a middle name by her parents, but when she got married she adopted her maiden name as a middle name. Maybe some women did this "unofficially," and would write the initial of their maiden name in the middle name place but didn't have it officially recorded anywhere.

Of course this wouldn't apply to men or in some other situations that have been mentioned, but it's a possibility for some cases.
I think that's just how it was back then. My MIL born in the US in 1937 has a middle name Rose but when she married, her maiden name or initial of became her middle name. Her mother in law, Margaret Mary, "Peg", born in 1907 was known as Mrs. J.D. last name until she passed away in 2015, 6 days shy of her 108th birthday. Her address labels or envelopes always said Mrs. J.D. last name.

Back when I married my ex, I had asked MIL why gram went by Mrs. J.D. since her husband had been deceased 20 years at that point. She said that's what she preferred and to make sure that's how I addressed any mail to her so that I didn't disrespect her.

This was all new to me so it's not something my parents taught me, such as to send thank you cards for gifts. MIL taught me that too. It simply wasn't done in Hungary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fresnochili View Post
My dad was born in 1913....I've never seen his birth certificate.
But as far as I can remember he didn't have a middle name either.
You should order his birth certificate to see if he was given a middle name

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blondy View Post
It's very common in the South for people to use their middle names instead of their first names.

I am a good example of that. My first name was my grandmother's name and my middle name was a shortened version of my mothers name.

From the beginning they called me by my middle name not to confuse me with my still living grandmother and my mother.

It's a pain because for the early part of my life I had teachers and others calling me by a first name I didnt use. Then I insisted that businesses and employers change my records to my middle name/maiden name and married name.

Then 9/11 happened and Real ID act and in order to get ID's that allow me to fly and a drivers license I have to revert to my birth name according to state laws.

Now none of my governmental issued ID matches most of my financial accounts. At some point, I will have to cough up dollars to have my name legally changed to the one I use.
It may be easier and cheaper to legally change your middle name to your 1st.

Last edited by Roselvr; 11-14-2020 at 06:44 AM..
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Old 11-14-2020, 10:59 AM
 
10,087 posts, read 6,187,819 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kokonutty View Post
I believe Jo was used for Joseph, not John.
I misspoke. Jno was John, which does seem odd (why reverse the letters? Just Jn would make more sense).

Jos was Joseph, and I don't believe there was a Jo. It would be too ambiguous.
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Old 11-14-2020, 11:45 AM
 
Location: Las Vegas
843 posts, read 786,665 times
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My mother and father (born around 1913) both had middle names. They gave my older sister a middle name. They gave me a middle initial only. I never asked why. Maybe I did when I was young, but don't remember the answer.
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