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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cherish the Oddballs

Mary Penner's column today covers one of my favorite tricks for tracing families: following the weird names.

Most family trees are over-populated with Johns, Elizabeths, Henrys and Marias. It's the unusual given names that send up a caution flag. Honing in on peculiar names can help with our research.

Even though today's parents tend to create unusual names for their kids by randomly selecting eight or nine Scrabble tiles, our ancestors usually latched onto oddball names because someone near and dear already had that curious name. [Link]
When searching for a family in succeeding censuses, I always look for the strangest name first. There were many John Smiths, but only one Merodach-baladen Smith (named after this guy).

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