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Old 11-14-2020, 11:47 AM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
I misspoke. Jno was John, which does seem odd (why reverse the letters? Just Jn would make more sense).
Probably because Jon was for Jonathan. I've always wondered whether shortening a name by one letter is even really worth it anyway.
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Old 11-14-2020, 12:58 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in America
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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.
Huh? My middle name IS on my birth certificate, marriage license, certificate of marriage, social security card, driver's license, and many other documents. My middle initial is even on most of my credit cards. I don't sign my name with my middle initial anymore. I used to them I got married and my name became very long so I changed my signature drastically.
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Old 11-14-2020, 01:07 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ss20ts View Post
Huh? My middle name IS on my birth certificate, marriage license, certificate of marriage, social security card, driver's license, and many other documents. My middle initial is even on most of my credit cards. I don't sign my name with my middle initial anymore. I used to them I got married and my name became very long so I changed my signature drastically.
The OP is mainly referring to people born in the 19th and early 20th centuries or earlier, when records could be sketchy.

My grandmother was born in 1896 and went by Helen. She didn't use a middle name, and she had dropped her maiden name completely. Her Social Security card and other ID documents read just "Helen [married surname]."

After she died we found her baptism and confirmation certificates, handwritten in German. Her original name was actually Minna Helene Alfrieda [maiden surname]. We would never have known.
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Old 11-14-2020, 01:12 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in America
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
The OP is mainly referring to people born in the 19th and early 20th centuries or earlier, when records could be sketchy. Not people born since the formation of the Social Security Administration and modern birth certificates.

My grandmother was born in 1896 and went by Helen. She didn't use a middle name, and she had dropped her maiden name completely. Her Social Security card and other ID documents read just "Helen [married surname]."

After she died we found her baptism and confirmation certificates, handwritten in German. Her original name was actually Minna Helene Alfrieda [maiden surname]. We would never have known.
While that may be true for some people, it is not true for everyone. My husband has birth certificates and full names are on them. The difference may be where they were born. Not just the country, but the state and city. Regulations weren't the same across the US back in the day. The parents may have also wanted things a specific way.

My great grandmother was born in 1899 and had to have proof of who she was for the Social Security Administration. She had to bring them a great deal of paperwork of the years.
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Old 11-14-2020, 02:13 PM
 
10,090 posts, read 6,198,505 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ss20ts View Post
My great grandmother was born in 1899 and had to have proof of who she was for the Social Security Administration. She had to bring them a great deal of paperwork of the years.
When did she apply? The Social Security administration was started in 1935. At that time, my grandmother was a working single mother, so she applied. Many women didn't apply then, because they were not employed.

And it's likely that the required paperwork was not as stringent as it later became. If you peruse the section of the Social Security website that collects the most popular names for each birth year, you can see that in the early years, many people applied with their nickname instead of their full first name: Jim, Ed, Tom.

Yes, I know it's possible for someone to have been officially named Jim, Ed or Tom. However, if you compare studies on popular names which have been made from official birth records, such nicknames are not anywhere near as common as they are in the Social Security records. In other words, applicants must not have been required to present a birth certificate that matched the same name they were applying under.

Last edited by saibot; 11-14-2020 at 02:30 PM..
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Old 11-14-2020, 02:26 PM
 
Location: Southwest Washington State
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Interesting discussion. I believe my father told me that his father thought every child had to legally have a middle name. My grandpa was a simple farmer.
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Old 11-14-2020, 04:16 PM
 
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My third great grandfather was named James Henry, and I believe they called him James Henry, because death certificates of his kids and his death certificate list him as James Henry Lastname.
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Old 11-14-2020, 05:43 PM
bjh bjh started this thread
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kokonutty View Post
I believe Jo was used for Joseph, not John.
Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
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.
I've not seen a Jo either. I've seen

-Jos for Joseph.
-Jno for John, my understanding is the letters are reversed because
-Jon is for Jonathan.
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Old 11-14-2020, 05:51 PM
bjh bjh started this thread
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
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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.
Yes, I've heard of those. I've always thought they were pretty cool. Here are they are with some more:

Andr for Andrew
Benj for Benjamin
Chas for Charles
Edw for Edward
Fredk for Frederick
Geo for George
Hy or Hny for Henry
Jas for James
Jno for John
Jon for Jonathan
Jos for Joseph
Patk for Patrick
Richd for Richard
Robt for Robert
Sml for Samuel
Thos for Thomas
Wm for William
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Old 11-14-2020, 07:21 PM
 
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I have some ancestors who had middle initials with no documentation of what they stood for, but a middle name is widely accepted as the actual name. This makes me wonder if the name was someone's guess and then was widely copied, and if it could be wrong. For example, "James C. ____" is said to be "James Christopher ____" but there is no proof. There is nobody named Christopher in the family.

There are lots of examples of "presidential" or historic names, my ancestor "Benjamin F. ___" was assumed to be "Benjamin Franklin _____". But I have known of other instances where similar names were proven wrong, where "George W. ____" was assumed to be "George Washington _____" but later turned out to be "George Wilfred _____".
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