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22 January 2009

Do You Have the Right Name?

One of my "spare time" activities is finding well-known individuals in United States census records. There are several potential difficulties I face when trying to locate any of these individuals. One of the most common: the "right" name.

While most of us are not searching for celebrities in the census, it still pays to have the correct name. If grandfather was an immigrant, are we searching for both his birth name and his Anglicized name? Was there another name he took after he immigrated, perhaps one that was easier to spell or pronounce?

And is the name we have for Grandma actually her middle name? Is she enumerated under her first name in 1900, a name that perhaps we do not know?

And there is always the chance that our ancestor changed his name a little bit to escape the law, a creditor, or a former wife.

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