Naming Methodology on the Mielec Family Tree
Due to the many, many ways that people spelled names over the years, I use a method where anyone born before WWII (and sometimes after) is recorded with their “standard/most common Hebrew names”. It makes it a LOT easier to match people whose names could be spelled many different ways.
So what do I mean by “standard/most common Hebrew names”? For the most part, I use the reference guides by Dr. Alexander Beider:
- For given names, I generally use Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants (Avotaynu, 2009)
- For family names, I generally use A Dictionary Of Jewish Surnames From Galicia (Avotaynu, 2004)
However I have taken some liberties in modifying the listings in Beider’s books based on 20+ years of researching Jews from Mielec.
For given names, I put what Beider generally considers the standard Hebrew name first, then followed by all spellings found in parentheses. For example, if a person’s name was “Anna”, I record this as “Chana (Anna)” because “Chana” is the standard Hebrew name for Anna. If the standard Hebrew name is not clear, I will put a question mark like this: “Esther? (Etel)”. I do not do this generally for people born after 1945 .
For family names, I always list the family name from birth, and use the most common spelling found in the Mielec powiat. If the family spelled it differently, I put it in an “Alias/AKA” category. For example, the family name “FISCH” is used for all names with similar spellings such as “FISH”, “FISCHMAN”, “FISHER”. “FISCHER”, etc…
Sometimes I am wrong and have grouped names together that are different. It is not a perfect science. And it is quite possible that you will disagree with what I use for “standard/most common Hebrew names”. I can only say that this is only used to manage a massive 15,000+ person family tree and not to disrespect any particular spelling of a family’s name.
Maternal vs Paternal Naming
Many Jews from Mielec carried their mother’s surname as opposed to the common Western standard of carrying their father’s name. The reason for this that the local (P0lish) government did not recognize Jewish weddings. In order for a marriage to be “official” in Poland, Jews had to go to a local office and pay fees. Many Jews chose not to do this.
In other cases the local (Polish) government would use Latin designations for maternal vs paternal given names: false (f) for a child born from an unregistered marriage, and recte (r) for a child born from a registered marriage.
“Aba Isak HELLER f NUSSBAUM” and his wife “Blima Reizel OFFEN” are recorded in the Mielec Birth Register as having a son on August 25, 1901 named “Szymon Hersch NUSSBAUM”.
I enter this information in the tree as follows:
- Mother: Given names are standardized; surname is kept as it is the usual spelling.
- Blima’s Tree Entry ➡ Bilha Roza (Blima Reizel) OFFEN.
- Father: Given names are standardized. Surname “HELLER f NUSSBAUM” contains connector “f”. The order of the names is usually “father f mother” but not always true and hence cannot be assumed. “HELLER” is not the normal spelling so it is changed to “HALLER” with the original spelling “HELLER” entered under alias. Hence Aba’s father is entered as “HELLER or NUSSBAUM”, Aba’s mother is entered as “NUSSBAUM or HELLER”.
- Aba’s Tree Entry ➡ Abraham Isaac (Aba Isak) HALLER f NUSSBAUM; HELLER in alias/aka
- Aba’s Father Tree Entry ➡ [unknown given name] HALLER or NUSSBAUM. HELLER in alias/aka
- Aba’s Mother Tree Entry ➡ [unknown given name] NUSSBAUM or HALLER. HELLER in alias/aka
- Son: Given names “Szymon” is standardized; other given name “Hirsch” and surname NUSSBAUM are kept because they are already standardized.
- Szymon’s Tree Entry: Simon (Szymon) Hirsch NUSSBAUM.