What Name Do You Use and Why?

Do you use your “real” name? Or do you use a diminutive based upon your first or middle name? Do you use a nickname?

In the notes section of your genealogy software indicate why you used the name you did. Future genealogists and relatives might like to know why you used it.

I have always used Michael, never “Mike.” This is largely because my family always called me Michael and mother always said “if I had wanted him called ‘Mike’ I would have named him ‘Mike.'”. And I always thought Mike Neill sounded too short to be an actual name–at least to my ears–probably the result of being half German where every name needs to be somewhat long and have a lot of consonant sounds.

I started using my middle name because when I started my job, there was another guy in town named “Mike Neal” who was always getting arrested for one various thing or another. That was a way of distinguishing myself.

I know my great-grandmother Neill never used her “real” name of Francis–she used Fannie on everything, Francis appears ONLY on her birth record.

But jot this sort of thing down in your genealogy notes. Someone in a hundred years may want to know and you won’t be around to tell them.


3 thoughts on “What Name Do You Use and Why?

  1. I’ve never had a true nickname or anything aside from my given name, though a friend lovingly called me B-Bon. My brothers’ names were all long-edition too though as adults I think some go by their shortened versions even though any family member always uses the full name.

    Is the spelling of your grandmother’s name in error? Typically Frances (as in hEr) is the spelling for females, and Francis (as in hIm) is the spelling for males. That is how I learned to differentiate the two spellings – E as in her, I as in him; I was always mistaking one for the other 🙂

    • It should have been Frances. There are only maybe two or three records where that name is used and, now that I look, it’s Frances in those documents. I always get them mixed up as well 😉

  2. Kim Elizabeth says:

    Good idea! I never liked my first name, and once I struck out on my own, started using my middle name as my first name. This was fine for everyday things, but my paycheck, and anything official had my first name. People used to say they had to use the name on my birth certificate. But my middle name WAS on my birth certificate! Ugh. Finally, many years ago, I changed my name so that my middle name became my first name. I added a middle name that was a family name in several generations of my mom’s family, and it was similar to my first name at birth. Mom was happy! My dad’s parents were from Italy and both Anglicized their Italian names. My dads two brothers both used their middle names as first names. When meeting new people, I always call them by what they tell me their name is. If you tell me your name is Michael, I’ll call you that. If you tell me your name is Mike, I’ll call you Mike. It drives me crazy when people do otherwise. I used to have a coworker named Deborah. She referred to herself as such, and everyone called her that for the most part. Occasionally, someone would ask for Debbie, and I never knew who they were talking about!

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