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Thursday, November 19, 2009

What's in a Name?

With Thanksgiving only a week away, family is on everyone’s minds, and I’m no exception. It seems that nearly every project I’ve worked on over the past week can be linked to the subject of family in one way or another. A project I’ve been working on since my second day on staff here isn’t explicitly about family, but family is one of the aspects of the project I’ve found most interesting. I’m creating a finding aid of all the state legislators for Mississippi. Basically, this entails combing through old copies of Mississippi government documents and recording who served what counties when. Riveting stuff. One of the most interesting aspects of it all is trying to determine who’s related to whom. It’s not part of the my assignment, but it’s a little game I like to play. I’m not about to give you a detailed listing of related names, but no worries – I have another list of names for you.

Many of the names I’ve encountered during this project have initials instead of spelled out first names, which was, and still is, a fairly common practice. The full names for some of these initials remain abbreviated in every document I consult, but others are eventually spelled in at least some of the later documents. Here are a few of the interesting and unconventional first names I’ve found:

Electious (It’s catchy for a politician)
Greek Lent

Some of the names don’t seem so unusual at first glance. In fact, many of them wouldn’t be out of the ordinary as last names. Then, I remember that these were first names. I’m not sure I could fathom calling someone Bland, Flake, or Greek Lent on a daily basis. Initials definitely make a lot of sense when you think about it like that. I’m not done with this project, yet, so if I run into any more interesting names, I’ll be sure to pass them along.


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