Tuesday, February 3, 2015

#NameCollecting: An Introduction

As with any human endeavor, genealogy is something that people do for a variety of reasons. While I try to bring some professional discipline and rigor to what I do, this is still a hobby for me - and hobbies are supposed to be Funtm. One thing that I still think is fun is Name Collecting.

This is on the less rigorous end of the genealogy spectrum, and sometimes I see it discussed somewhat dismissively, as if it has no value. True, if all you do is indulge in adding lists of names to your tree without verifying the relationships between them, you're probably not doing much of  great historic value - and you're probably going to have to do a lot of pruning when it comes time to apply for any sort of family society (like Sons of the America Revolution) or claim that throne from your family's homeland.

But there's no denying that looking through names of old and distant relatives has a certain entertainment value. I've certainly kept my teenaged daughter rolling on the floor just reading her a list of distant cousins before. And anything that can do that deserves a weekly blog post, don't you think?

Here are a few examples I've shared recently:

Lady Bane - found on Pinterest
I want to make this absolutely clear - I'm not mocking any of these people. I know that to their ears (or at least their parents') these names were not a source of amusement. But names do go out of fashion, become associated with the famous and infamous, or become popular with a particular generation and take on unintended associations.

A lot of the humor is just culture clash. To my modern ears, "Mildred" is a name I associate with my grandmother's generation; sweet old ladies bringing casseroles to potluck dinners, and cultivating lavender...which makes the rude phoneme that much more jarring. And, of course, I'll admit to being more coarse than the innocent folks who would not find anything about the name "Manerva Peniston" remotely amusing. Our modern culture is also to blame when the name "Arminta Bane" conjures the image of a female steampunk superhero in my mind. (But she's gorgeous and awesome, isn't she?)

So, consider this the inaugural post in a series I'm going to simply call "#NameCollecting". I want to get away from using judgmental descriptors - especially a word like "crazy", since that can be hurtful. I don't want to be THAT guy - the one constantly explaining why you shouldn't be offended because I used a word with baggage.

Instead, let's make this a celebration of the odd, wonderful, and ever-changing tapestry of human names. I won't always know a lot about the people attached to these names, but I'll share what I have, and we'll share the wonder!

Rock on, Arminta!

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