Aareck to Zsaneka: African American Names in an Urban Community, 1945-1980
Jerrilyn M. McGregory
Robert L. Harris, Jr.
Thesis DT 3.5 1985 M4785
ix, 168 leaves; 28 cm.
The purpose of this study is to address the assumption that African Americans traditionally have possessed some very unusual names. African American names, however, have always fallen within the range of conventional Anglo-American names in the United States. African Americans use a wider variety of names and generally use unique names at a higher rate than their counterparts, but the majority of their names concur with the Anglo-American naming system. Nonetheless, the volume of unique names among African Americans, as observed in this study, has risen in recent years. This increase in unique names can be attributed to important historical influences that vastly changed the names of African American children especially after 1970. In no way should this new trend in African American naming patterns be labeled as pathological. In fact, they signify the birth of a vibrant form of cultural expression.
This thesis is a case study of African American naming patterns in Gary, Indiana based on an analysis of birth records at five year intervals from 1945 to 1980. A total of 6, 993 birth records form the data base for this study. The age, birthplace, and level of education of the parents represent the types of variables analyzed for determining the naming patterns of African Americans in the community of Gary, Indiana. In addition, the examination of kin names offers keen insight into African American culture. Finally, this thesis traces the evolution of middle names from moderate usage to the point of becoming an integral part of the African American naming process.