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15-Minute Family History: What's in a Name?

Posted by Renee Thursday, October 29, 2009

This has been a pivotal week for our family (and our family history) - my oldest daughter gave birth to her first child, making Scott and I grandparents for the first time, and in the 50-some hours since baby Kyah Renee (the middle name is for me!) arrived, I’ve spent a lot of time holding her and feeling very blessed. These have been blissful, thoughtful moments, and I feel the generations past so very near, looking over my shoulder with great love and affection.

I’ve also had some time to think on less weightier, but nevertheless critical issues – like what I’d like my grandkids to call me. Now, I realize that there’s a better than even chance that at some point, a child, (maybe even this one) may hang an unexpected moniker on me, like Gigi or Mima or Gramma Buttons, but until that time, I don’t want to just be “the nice lady with the long hair who’s always calling us on Skype and sending weird little presents…yeah, Mommy’s mom.” I need a Gramma Name.

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Family names – that is to say, the names that we call one another within our own families – are an important (and often overlooked) piece of family history. Some are passed from generation to generation. Others come about from childish mispronunciations, or have a special story attached to them. Often they reflect ethnicity, heritage, or culture: in our family, for example, my son-in-law is Armenian, and so Kyah, blessed to live in a trilingual home, will call her Armenian grandparents “Papik” and “Tatik.”

Which brings me to this week’s 15-Minute Family History Assignment:
As family historians, we take great pains to accurately record each individual’s name, but do we take time to record their family names? Was your father “Dad” or “Pop?” Did your brother have a nickname? Did you? What did you call your grandparents? My maternal grandparents weren’t only Lester Alfred and Edna Fern – to me, they were and will always be “Poppy” and “Ma.” Take a few minutes to record those special family names, as well as any stories that go with them.

Family Photoloom Bonus:
Nicknames and universal family names (as in, everyone calls him “Buster”) can be recorded in Picture Notes on the individual’s icon picture, or in an Individual Record as part of their name (e.g., Carl “Buster” Bridgmon).

Two-generation family names (parent/child) are easy to record in the Relationship View. Simply drag an individual into the relationship setter and click on any other individual for whom a relationship has been set. Then record the Family Name in the space provided at the top of the screen. For example, when I put my mother in the center of the Relationship Setter and click on her father, I can record that “Lester is a “Pop” to Clella Mae” in the relationship information that appears at the top of the page.

Grandparent and other multi-generational family names can be recorded in Picture Notes, or in an Individual Record.

P.S. I’m staying traditional for now, and going with “Grammi.”

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1 Responses to 15-Minute Family History: What's in a Name?

  1. Congratulations Renee and Scott on your new grandbaby!!