Sunday, August 8, 2010

What's in a Surname?

I love it when you're having a simple conversation and mention that you do genealogy research. And the response is, "how far have you traced back?" For a moment, I'm a bit bewildered. Of course I realize they're asking about MY personal last name, as though that's the only name I research. I normally offer up something like, "well, my father's last name traces back to the 1850s from Germany" and leave it at that.

But if I'm feeling frisky and a bit combative, I laugh and say, "which name?" Leaving them equally bewildered and not sure how to respond.

If I left my research to only my given last name, it'd be short. Really short. Granted, I find lil notes and tidbits here and there, more filling in the gaps of the historical story of my Three generations in America. And I suppose I could start researching beyond, in Germany, hiring someone to do some research for me or finding a way to stumble around German websites (to begin with).

But how many researchers really leave it at only their given surname?
Isn't that a bit insulting to your mothers surname, which is Equally important to putting You on this earth?
And then come the grandparents, again, wouldn't be here without Them. So on and so forth.

Even when I mention something to my family, and the "story" or the "line" comes from a female line, it's as if the brain shuts off a bit. As though the female lines aren't as important. As though the only lines that matter are the male lines - Who gave birth to the Females! Can we say... oh, a bit of gender inequality here?

Sunday randomness.