JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Naming concepts #general

Jake Goldstein

At 03:53 AM 4/15/2007, David Kravitz wrote:

When I was born, I was to be called Philip David, after my great grandfather, the
David was not a family name. I was immediately nicknamed Little Philip with my
first cousin becoming Big Philip. My mother created a fuss and by my brit, I had
become David Philip. I later dumped the Philip altogether.

My late wife was named Pearl Marian, exactly the same as her first cousin and she
was always known as Marian but she did not reverse the names. This did cause her
problems at times.

What is important >from a genealogy standpoint are Hebrew names.
When a person has a double name, Polish records may use the names interchangeably.
For example, in birth records, a father's name could be Herszek Dawid, Dawid Hersz,
or even simply Dawid, or Herszko. With Yiddish names, the order seems to be
respected whenever the double name is used, but this order does not necessarily
reflect usage preferences. Yitzchak Wolf may be known simply as Velvel (a
diminutive of Wolf) by his parents and siblings. When only one (Hebrew/Yiddish)
name is passed to a descendant of a doubly-named person, it is most likely the name
that was used familiarly.

What is important >from a genealogy standpoint is how to locate and identify our
ancestors and their descendants. Hebrew and Yiddish names help in linking
generations but they are not key in locating records. I usually find myself saying
"Aha!" when I realize how a newfound ancestor's name is linked to his/her
descendants' names. On the other hand, cultural conventions specific to someone's
lifespan, place(s) where s/he lived, and social group(s) s/he was a part of are
fundamental to a genealogical search. For example, someone surnamed ZLOTYKAMIEN
may start calling himself GOLDSZTEJN (which means the same) when the influence of a
German speaking occupier starts making itself felt; or vice versa, when the need to
Polonize one's surname becomes important in the society one lives.

Jake Goldstein
Boston, Mass., USA

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