“Identity: What’s in a Surname?”

Going through Uncommonplace Book, Liz Covart talks about the plethora of and lack of information that surname gives to people researching the past.  Here is an excerpt of her post. . .

With nearly 7,000 data points entered, I have come to realize that I will be able to glean much more information than I thought I wanted. I will be able to determine ratios of male and female children, how many children carry the name of a parent or godparent, the number of slaves, free blacks, and Native Americans the church baptized, and the relative number of intermarriages between the Albany Dutch and the English, Scots, Irish, Welsh, French, & German newcomers.

 

United Kingdom Coat of Arms

 

The thought of obtaining concrete demographics for the ethnic makeup of colonial, revolutionary, & Early Republic Albany has me both giddy and perplexed. Surnames yield so much and yet so little information. The record keepers of the Dutch Church sometimes converted English surnames into Dutch surnames: Yates became Jaets or Jeets. Long-time families like the Gansevoorts, Van Zandts, and Pruyns identified as Albany Dutch even when their forefathers came from Germany, Portugal, & France (respectively). 

Read the rest of the article here!

-Phil

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About

Christian, Lover of History, Aspiring Teacher

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Posted in Historical Finds, Thoughts from Other Historians

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