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The Importance of Women Keeping Their Maiden Name for History

May 10, 2018

Inspiration for women, women entrepreneurs and working women

My work day began with a beautiful note from a dedicated sponsor of my company Women TIES, Bonnie Rosen Rozen (no misspelling there!). She responded to yesterday’s weekly Wednesday Wisdom by sending a beautiful account of her personal background obtaining a flexible job so she could be available for her daughters while they grew. She also shared her mother’s incredible history of working as her father’s bookkeeper and advisor for his business so she could stay home with Bonnie and her two sisters. My story inspired her to recall her own.

Yesterday afternoon as I was enjoying lunch with my 84 year old aunt our conversation started focusing on her mother, my grandmother, especially as Mother’s Day Weekend was approaching. We discussed my grandmother’s quietness about talking about her background and family. My grandmother’s unwillingness to share her family history has left a hole in what we know about her side of the family and we don’t know why. We believe there was an American Indian link to the family since my grandmother, her brothers and my father look Native American but we don’t know that for sure. My aunt remembers seeing a photo of an Indian woman standing next to a soldier in a family photo.

As we dreamed about the generations of women we both would never know because that is how history happens, we wondered the great women we will never know were in our family. Could it be the sparkling blue eyes of my Aunt came from a distant female relative since no one else in her family has blue eyes? Could my feminist spirit sprung from another woman in our family that fought for equality in her lifetime? We have searched for more history on my grandmother’s background but simply can’t find it; we only have the photo with no dialogue or links to her past.

The conversation reminded me about the importance of women keeping their maiden names in their formal name so when future generations wonder about us they can discover who we are and what we did in our lives and careers. It is a reason I officially go by “Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham” because I don’t want to be lost in history if my great great granddaughters want to learn about my entrepreneurial and women focused career. Being Catholic, I was baptized with my other Aunt’s name and choose my mother’s maiden name as my confirmation name so I am really “Tracy Elaine Lauri Chamberlain Higginbotham” My name is saturated with a generation of wonderful women I respect, love and cherish and I am proud of that every day.

This Mother’s Day instead of giving your mother a gift of flowers or a dinner certificate, think about using your maiden, middle or confirmation name more often especially if it gives tribute to a favorite female in your history. Anyone can formally change their name so if you feel strongly about not being lost in history, give yourself and future generations a gift by adding your maiden name to your formal name.

Another idea is to buy a journal and sit down with generational women you care about this weekend jotting down personal stories and memories of the women (and men if you want) in their lives for a keepsake. I gleaned some new historical lessons yesterday that I already shared with my siblings so they won’t be lost and I have written them down. Why not honor the women in your family by asking them for personal stories to cherish forever.

P.S. Bonnie Rozen Rosen got lucky and married someone with a similar last name but different spelling. Lucky her.

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