Sunday, August 28, 2011

Italian naming patterns

I recently checked out The Family Tree Guide Book to Europe, by Erin Nevius and the editors of the Family Tree Magazine, from my local library. The book looks at 14 different countries across Europe and gives tips and ideas for researching your ancestors from those countries.

One thing that grabbed my attention is the naming patterns followed by southern Italian families. The pattern is one that I believe my husband's ancestors followed and I am hoping to follow the pattern to further trace back the maternal lines. Here is how it goes:

- First son named after father's father
- Second son named after mother's father
- Third son named after the father
- First daughter named after father's mother
- Second daughter named after mother's mother
- Third daughter named after mother

Names were also used again if a child were to die in order to maintain the naming pattern. In the case of the Pagano family the family names are as follows:
Salvatore and Mary Pagano deviated from the convention with their third son, named Guiseppe rather than Salvatore. It is possible that the Paganos had other children that I have yet to discover. In the case of my Pagano family, they did not continue the naming pattern once they arrived in America in the 1890s. I wonder if this was one way to seal their Americanism and separate from the old ways. I now plan to apply this naming pattern to other Italian lines and see if that can open up some new leads.


Leah said...

Thank you for posting this! My Italian grandmother's family has been a nightmare to trace, so hopefully this will help... I wonder if the pattern changes from region to region?

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Leah- I have done a bit of research and this naming pattern can be found across Italy, but it was not a hard and fast rule. Plus, they also named children after saints so they may have chosen a saint's name over Papa's. Try this pattern, though, and see if it helps. Good luck!