24    Nov 201310 comments

Nicknames: Family history research tips

Ever faced an obstacle in your family research as you look for an ancestors’ name?

When viewing census records, for example, it’s not uncommon to find a relative listed with their formal birth name in one record, and then listed under a nickname in another.

Nicknames are usually familiar or humorous and used as an appropriate replacement or addition to a given name. They can be a form of endearment, refer to a personal character trait or just be a shortened version.

When you stumble upon these new listings, you might think your family research has hit a brick wall. Searching for records can be difficult if you don’t have all the information, but don’t despair, here are some tips below to help in your family history research. Continue reading "Nicknames: Family history research tips" »

11    Sep 20135 comments

Poll: Would you change your name?

Names - surname and given - are essential to family history research.

A surname passes through many generations connecting family members with that common surname. Many people are also named after deceased relatives to honor those individuals.

Names can be rare or even banned. For some, even a stranger’s opinion influences the name of a newborn.

Generally, names are given to us, but people are beginning to adopt new names, both given and surnames.

What does this mean for family history?

Will it be more difficult to trace name changes and links to ancestors, or will it make research more exciting?

What do you think? If you could change your name easily, would you?


3    Aug 20131 comment

What’s in a name?: Strangers pick a baby’s name

For many expecting parents, it can be difficult to think of the perfect name for an unborn baby.

Many people turn to baby name books or choose an ancestor's name, but one US couple decided to take their name search to a vote, at their local Starbucks.

The New Haven, Connecticut couple asked customers to vote for two names: Logan and Jackson. With over 1,800 votes and many other name suggestions, they decided to combine the two names and will call their son, due in September, Logan Jackson.

Some might say the controversial idea of  asking strangers to name a  baby lacks that personal element of naming a child after a relative. Others may find this a relief and a unique way to choose a name.

We recently wrote about names banned in New Zealand and have asked about rare names in your family tree.

What do you think of crowd sourcing for baby names? Do you have a similar story in your family where relatives were named by strangers? Would you ask others to choose your child's name?

Let us know your stories and thoughts in the comments below, on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.

22    Jul 20136 comments

Congratulations: A new Royal is born

Congratulations to Will and Kate on the arrival of their prince, a new addition to the Royal family tree.

The royal baby was born today at Lindo wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in London, where his father Prince William and his uncle, Prince Harry were also born.

The baby will be known officially as the Prince of Cambridge. Although not the only Prince in the royal family tree, he is now third in line to the throne. It is also the first time in more than a century when the next three generations of monarchy will be alive at the same time.

Amid all the excitement of the new royal arrival, people are anxiously waiting to find out what the little royal Prince will be named. Continue reading "Congratulations: A new Royal is born" »

1    Jun 201315 comments

New Zealand: Banned names

What’s in a name? Well, in New Zealand, your's could be a problem.

In early May, New Zealand’s Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages released an updated list of banned baby names.

Do you have a Lucifer, Queen V, King, V8, Prime Minister or Justice in your family tree? Those are all (as well as others) on the list  that are unacceptable.

The banned list is not static, and grows over time. According to the registrar, acceptable names may not cause offense, be unreasonably long or resemble any official title and rank.

Continue reading "New Zealand: Banned names" »

4    Apr 20130 comments

Surname of the week: ANDERSEN

On April 2, we celebrated Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday and International Children’s Book Day.

In honor of the Danish author and poet, we look at the surname ANDERSEN this week.

It is a patronymic surname from the personal name Anders, a vernacular form of Andreas. From the New Testament, the Greek name Andreas derives from andreios, meaning “manly” and aner, meaning, “man” or “male.”

Andreas was the first of Christ’s disciples. Various forms for this personal name throughout Europe are André (France) and Andrea (Italy).

It also gave rise to the northern Middle English name Andrew, which was absorbed in the surname ANDERSON. St. Andrew was also the patron saint of Scotland, making the surname popular in Scotland, under the spelling ANDERSON.

Continue reading "Surname of the week: ANDERSEN" »

13    Mar 20131 comment

Surname of the Week: Dennis

Welcome back to our weekly edition of the history of English surnames.

Today we look at DENNIS, in honor of the debut of the "Dennis the Menace" comic strip on March 12, 1951.

DENNIS comes from the medieval personal name Den(n)is (Latin Dionysius, Greek Dionysios’  - follower) in reference to an early Eastern god believed to be the protector of the vine.

St. Denis, the 3rd-century martyred Bishop of Paris, was one of the first mentions. However, the modern popularity of the name in England came in the 12th-century, via a French influence. The first recording of the name was believed to be Walter Denys in 1272. Throughout the centuries, the surname developed with DENNIS being a variant.

Continue reading "Surname of the Week: Dennis" »

27    Feb 20133 comments

New section: Surname of the week

MyHeritage welcomes you to a new weekly blog post, "Surname of the week." We'll discuss the origin, history and other information of one surname in each post.

Surnames first appeared in the Middle Ages as a way to record and document people and for tax purposes. Details included given names, nicknames, parents’ names, occupation and residence. This personal information later became an important part of the history of surnames.

English surnames, as we know them today, began in England as early as the 11th century. However, it was not until the late-17th-century that many families adopted permanent surnames.

Generally speaking, family names fall into the following categories with some examples given:

  • Occupation: Smith, Taylor or Miller
  • Personal characteristics: Young, Black or White
  • Geographic or locations: Hamilton, Bush, Hill,  Windsor or Murray
  • Patronymics, Matronymics or Ancestral:  Stephenson, Richardson or Harris

In honor of American-British Actress Elizabeth Taylor's birthday, we look at TAYLOR this week:

Continue reading "New section: Surname of the week" »

28    Jan 20130 comments

Poll: Who were you named after?

Choosing a name for a child is certainly not easy.

Some families have names that recur every other generation, passing from grandparent to child.

Others parents choose to use an original name, or one that has a special meaning.

Do you know where your name comes from? Let us know in the poll below:


24    Apr 20122 comments

Names: Choosing one for your child

Recently we posted about interesting birth stories. As a follow-up, we've been thinking about our children's names and how we choose them.

There are several reasons why parents select a particular name for a child. Some choose to name after a deceased relative, or to honor a living person. Some simply like a certain name or its meaning.

Other factors are important when selecting a name. What will the child's initials spell? Would a name result in an embarrassing nickname?

Some countries prohibit using certain names and won't allow the registration of such names. Parents may want to avoid names that might get them in trouble with the law!

Many families use recurring names in each generation, as they name children after those in the previous one. This is very helpful in tracing some families, as an unusual given name can provide clues if the surname is common. Of course, in some families, it can offer another challenge as some given names are used so commonly that researchers may have trouble separating each generation from another.

How did your parents select your first name? Who were you named after? Do you have a story about your name? Share your story in the comments below.

About us  |  Contact us  |  Privacy  |  Tell a friend  |  Support  |  Site map
Copyright © 2014 MyHeritage Ltd., All rights reserved