Anthropology and Genealogy: The case for doing it Latin style.

May 9, 2018

 So, I'm at the age where a lot of my friends are getting married or are married. Being a female, the question of "Should I change my last name?" always comes up. After doing a lot of research on different cultures and having to make a choice myself, I advocate for doing it Latin style, i.e., keeping your name and adding his last name.


The main reason I advocate for this is that by the time a lot of us get married we may have established ourselves, professionally or otherwise, and made a name for ourselves, and now you're asking us to build up social credit again. I already have a name, and some of us really like our name. I get compliments on my maiden name all the time. When people hear my full maiden name, they always say it sounds regal. My married name, on the other hand, most people can't even pronounce correctly.


 It's not just the personal identity crisis that goes along with changing your name, which some people do experience, why should I lose my birth name in the first place? I will gladly take your last name also, but my last name is a part of me, I had it since birth like my heart. Your last name is an accessory I had it since we got married, like my wedding band. If you ever leave, you'll want both back I'm sure. Beyond that, not many men ever consider taking their wife's last name and losing theirs. So let's talk about sexism. When my husband and I went on our honeymoon, I had booked it under my credit card. We got the honeymoon package; everything was inclusive. So the staff called us by our last name everywhere we went, but since it was under my credit card, they kept calling us by my maiden name; he was not amused, I loved it. He didn't like being called a different name... Oh, the irony. 


I like the hyphen or 2 last names not just because it allows you retain your identity while showing that you are also a part of this new family, but also because it makes my job easier as a genealogist. Hispanic and Latin family trees have an advantage in research because you already know everyone's mother's maiden name when you look at records because its a part of their name. By arranging names this way, you keep the father's name alive but the mothers as well. 


For the record: My husband is annoyed that I hyphenated my name, but he's Hispanic, so I used a cultural argument, and I had just read men explain things to me and became offended by how women are forgotten. Also, I get family drama, and why some people can't wait to change their name. But then you have people like me who love their name so much when I was asked about dropping my maiden name I quoted a line I heard from a gang documentary "blood in, blood out; I'm in it for life." Then they told me to stop trying to act gangster and get back in the kitchen and that's a story for a different day.


“It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to.” 
-W.C. Fields


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