Re: Using given names to find populations of common descent #names

Herb Weisberg

The Washington Post had an interesting article Friday July 1 by Andrew Van Dam on "How Amateur Genealogists Helped ShatterMyths about Immigrants."  Ran Abramitzky with Leah Boston analyzed US census data in which people and families could be traced across generations to look at how changes occur.  According to the article, their book "Streets of Gold" focuses particularly on economic change and adult success.  But near the end of the Washington Post article there are is an interesting discussion on first names:
"Given the limitations of census data, cultural assimilation is harder to measure. But Abramitzky, himself an immigrant from Israel, noticed something about his own family. When he was new to the United States, he gave his first son a typical Israeli name, Roee. Friends and teachers struggled to pronounce it. For each subsequent kid, Abramitzky and his spouse tried harder to find names that fit their culture but sounded more familiar to American ears — first Ido and, finally, Tom.

The economists found the same pattern in the census data. The longer they were here, the more likely immigrant parents were to pick less-foreign names for their children. That correlates closely with other measures of assimilation, such as intermarriage and proficiency in English.

By the time Ellis Island-era immigrants had been in the United States for 20 years, they already had closed half the “foreign name gap” with native residents. For today’s immigrants, birth records from California — one of the biggest modern name databases available — show an identical pattern."
Herb Weisberg


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