Sometimes in doing genealogy research it helps to know what you’re looking for in a family line. Names, and the patterns in naming for one.
In some societies there were rather strict rules as to how one named one’s children.
Some of these were drastically different than what you find in America today.
Knowing about these can be a great help in identifying who matches who, but can also be confusing, like when siblings name their children after each other. If you have 8 children having 8 children, that’s 9 people in one three-generation family with the same name!
I’ve gathered together some links from other places on different groups and their naming conventions. Click the links for more details.
Mostly today in the US you find First name, Middle Name (maybe two) and Surname-meaning the last name of your father. Sometimes a Mother’s surname hyphenated with a father’s. But in days gone by, things were different in different places.
In Germany, there would be sometimes 3-4 middle names, many times the first name for all of the sons would be the same and they would call them by one of their middle names.
18th Century PA German Naming Customs
18th Century PA German Nicknames
In Mexico, frequently people went by both the mother’s and father’s surnames, but it’s complicated. While most present-day names are taken from the parents’ surnames, historically the surnames might have been those of a more notable family member, or even grandparents. See this link for more details.
The Scottish, especially those in America, would use the wife’s maiden name, or her mother’s maiden name as a child’s middle name, which can be a great help if you can recognize it.
Traditional Irish Naming Patterns
The Laws of Jewish Names
Russian Naming (PDF)
Native American Tribes
Please bear in mind “Native American” is not one thing, not one tribe or culture, but MANY. So each tribe may have specific naming traditions.
Navajo & Sioux
If I didn’t cover it here, you can pretty much just Google _____ naming conventions .