We all grew up calling folks in our circle by a nick name. As youngsters, we often didn’t realize that they actually had another name. Uncle Bill was actually uncle William. Aunt Mandy was actually Amanda. In my case, Uncle Bus was actually Robert.
I’m not sure how many names I’ve answered to during my life. During my youth, most of my friends called me by my last name. As soon as I started attending middle school, the teachers always called me “Mike’ for some reason. My name wasn’t listed that way on the roll. When I asked one of them why he always called me ‘Mike’ he gave me a blank stare and then said, “Isn’t that your name?” “Great!”. “I hope this Mike fellow gets good grades since the teachers has no idea what my name really is!”
As a test, I signed all my tests as “Mike” and turned in my home work with ‘Mike’ on the top of the page. All of them were graded and attributed to my record, which of course affirmed my obvious forgetability.
It wasn’t’ until I started high school that a teacher finally said, “Hey, why are you taking typing again this year?” After proving my name wasn’t Mike and that I really was in his class with this new identity but apparently the same face did I finally find the truth.
There was another red-headed fellow in the school system a year older than me named “Mike”. The teacher said I was his doppelganger, whatever that was. I wasn’t part of some gang but figured a college graduate knew what the word meant.
The story ends well. Mike was a terrific student. He went to college on a full ride scholarship after high school. His good grades and impression on the teachers always served me well once for the rest of my high school education. Mike and I even became friends after I sought him out and introduced myself as his younger twin. Neither of us could see the resemblance, so perhaps it was more based on our body language, voice and photographic memories.
As we engage in genealogy research, we frequently encounter nicknames. Do you always know their fully distinguished original name? I thought I knew most of them until I started researching in a little village in way out Massachusetts. The folks living there the early 1800’s were serial nicknamers. I think they held contests to come up with the most ‘unlike its original name’ as possible. That started my quest to gather huge lists of nicknames. Why folks use them with such regularity still stymies me at times. The spelling of many nicknames is as ling as the original name, so economy of letters isn’t the answer.
I’m still in the dark about the logic used in to create nicknames in many cases, but know there is no reason to not embrace them. They have meaning to someone, somewhere as do all of our original first names.
I’ve posted my own lists of nicknames over the years here on this blog. The FamilySearch Wiki has a much more complete list. You should bookmark it because it is a great resource.
The wiki article explains what names qualify for the list.
It openly invites the community to add more nicknames to the list if they aren’t already there. Although it is easy to edit a wiki page and this list, the article includes step-by-step instructions about how to add to the list.
The list is straight forward, easy to read and understand as seen in the clip below:
Take a look at the page today. Add to it. Share your knowledge with the rest of the wiki user community.