“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!



Christian, Lover of History, Aspiring Teacher

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Historical Finds, Thoughts from Other Historians

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow Reckless Historians on WordPress.com
%d bloggers like this: