Sunday, March 04, 2007

Spelling Doesn't Count
"Prior to Samuel Johnson publishing the first Dictionary of the English Language in 1755, there were no spelling rules.
Even today there really are no rules for spelling names. You can spell your name any way you want. With modern records, once you have a social security card (now issued at birth), a birth certificate and a driver's license or passport, it is usually too much trouble to vary the spelling. Records are computerized, can easily be crosschecked and if everything doesn't match exactly, you don't exist! While a person is pretty much committed to the parents' way of spelling the surname, it is easy to see there are even fewer rules nowadays for spelling first names. Sherry may be Sherree, Sheri or even Shayree. Laurie could be Lori, Laurey, Lauree, Laury, Lory, Lorie, Loree, etc."

Name Assumptions Can Lead to Lost Ancestors

When interviewing family members, ask them how to spell the name of your ancestors. I had been looking for my great-great-great-grandfather Powell Lawson for years without success. One evening, while talking with my grandfather, I asked him to spell the name for me. When he said he thought it was Pal, I thought, "Poor man can't spell very well." Imagine my surprise when I found a marriage record for Palestine Lawson to Sarah Manis. Just because I had never heard the name I would have overlooked the record if my grandfather hadn't spelled it out for me.
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