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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Literary Naming in 19th century America

Thanks to Mrs. Dionysius O'Gall for this very interesting article about 19th century census taking! The Bronte reference comes at the end, but the rest of the article is well worth the read on its own. This article deals with some of the practices of the census officers sent to take a census of Native Americans living on reserves:

American Indian children who attended school nearly always had an English name. George Gans, Horace Greeley, and Miles Standish are examples of names assigned to schoolboys.

In some years, depending often on the whims of the census-taker, every member of the tribe received an English name.

Big Rope's Mother became Martha Big Rope. Dinero became Dora Money. And for a literary touch, Cacje's Widow became Jane Eyre and Chis-chisla became Charles Dickens.


Anonymous said...

Actually, it was Dr. Dionysius O'Gall who came up with the article on the census rolls. Wish I could take credit for it but I can't!

Brontëana said...

My mistake! How sloppy of me not to check before I posted. Thanks for setting me right. :)