Thursday, July 13, 2006

Feminism Circa 1920

In honor of the Relay for Life (an event that honors cancer victims and survivors), my family had the opportunity to decorate luminarias in honor of two of my great-grandmothers, both of whom passed away from cancer.

This mean delving into that great unknown that is the family album. Luckily, I have a fairly well organized one that I created when I had a *slight* obession with scrapbooking.

We did find a great picture of my great-grandmother lifting my dad as a toddler up to to get an apple from a tree.

But I also found something else.

I found permission.

I have my great-grandmother's social security card. And the card lists her first, middle and last names, but there is something else. There is an initial between her middle and last names, and I know what the initial stands for...her maiden name.

My great-grandmother got married in 1920, at the ripe old age of 14. She lived in the deep south and had little education. One would assume that she would shed her maiden name and fully adopt her husbands name, but she didn't.

I knew that her maiden name was important, as my grandmother used it as my father's middle name, but I didn't realize how important.

Now, 86 years later, the fact that my great-grandmother kept both her middle and maiden names gives me permission to do the same. I am no where near close to getting married, but in the last couple of years, I've thought a lot about what I would do with my name when that time does come. I have wanted to keep it in some way but didn't want it to replace my middle name.

I can see now that it wouldn't be quite so new for me to keep my name, and if I have the opportunity, I'd like to give my great-grandmother's maiden name in some form to one of my children, after all, it's clearly important!

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