U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Genealogy
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 11-11-2020, 02:10 PM
bjh bjh started this thread
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
38,880 posts, read 25,691,425 times
Reputation: 127252

Advertisements

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.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 11-11-2020, 03:25 PM
bjh bjh started this thread
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
38,880 posts, read 25,691,425 times
Reputation: 127252
Update: I just found his wife's middle name.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-11-2020, 07:57 PM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
9,610 posts, read 15,048,493 times
Reputation: 12603
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.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-11-2020, 09:50 PM
bjh bjh started this thread
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
38,880 posts, read 25,691,425 times
Reputation: 127252
Quote:
Some people didn't have a middle name
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*

I did find the wife's family after having looked before to know avail. So there's that.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-11-2020, 10:30 PM
 
Location: The High Desert
10,305 posts, read 5,523,009 times
Reputation: 19296
My dad, born 1915, had a single middle name on the official birth record but had three on the church baptism record. We don’t know where the official middle name came from but the other two were his gr-grandfather and his dad’s uncle. When an adult he always used his official initial.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-12-2020, 06:40 AM
Status: "Wishing all the best of health!" (set 12 days ago)
 
35,991 posts, read 36,244,058 times
Reputation: 16844
Although I don't use my middle name, it does appear on all official governmental records. My relatives that were born in the USA all have middle names and these names do appear in family trees. Quite often middle names are honoring a deceased relative but other times it is just a name that the parents picked that sounded good together with the child's first name.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-12-2020, 05:33 PM
Status: "Welcome back America!" (set 16 days ago)
 
Location: Mars City
6,780 posts, read 3,316,840 times
Reputation: 10388
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.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-12-2020, 06:57 PM
 
10,072 posts, read 6,171,164 times
Reputation: 26482
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.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-12-2020, 08:38 PM
 
1,966 posts, read 1,284,234 times
Reputation: 2983
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.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 11-12-2020, 09:01 PM
bjh bjh started this thread
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
38,880 posts, read 25,691,425 times
Reputation: 127252
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.
That can be a doorway to finding a maiden name, if it's not found elsewhere and the marriage record isn't available.

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. . . . .
I've seen this too, where they either downplayed or switched names. I wondered if it was a regional custom or just that family.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Genealogy
Similar Threads

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2021, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top