This woman is from a village in Kenya, East Africa. The intricately beaded necklace she is holding reminds me that many of us have been given our names for very complicates reasons.

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Man holding tattoo shop sign in Copenhagen, Denmark

Why would someone name their business “Wild Cat Piercing Tattoo?” I noticed this man while strolling along the Stroget, a pedestrian street in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Do You Know The Answer To These Questions?

  1. What does your name mean?
  2. Where did your name originate?
  3. What role does your name play in your family dynamics?
  4. Why was your name given to you?
  5. How does your name define you?

Names are an integral part of your identity. They usually reflect family dynamics and being able to answer these questions might help solve a family mystery.

Where Can You Find Information On Your Name?

Here are some popular websites to check out:

a).      b).       c).

d).       e).

Using An Authentic Ship Manifest To Name The Inheritance

The Inheritance is set in Calabria, southern Italy during the years 1897 to 1913. Selecting character names appropriate to this period helped create a historically accurate sense of time and place to make my story believable to the reader. I reviewed many resources in my search for relevant names and found Ship Manifests from this era very useful.

What Is A Ship Manifest?

This is a listing of all passengers confirmed for passage on a ship. The information recorded includes name, age, marital status, last residence and final destination. The inspectors at The Ellis Island Immigration Station referred to Ship Manifests when examining passengers who landed in New York between 1892 and 1954.

What Does A Ship Manifest Look Like?

Here’s an abbreviated version of a manifest I reviewed when searching for possible names for characters in The Inheritance.

For a complete image of a Ship Manifest and further information on The Ellis Island Immigration Station, please refer to the website:

I have also written a series entitled “Solving Your Family Mysteries With Genealogical Research” for this blog with several entries dedicated to Ellis Island.

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What does your name mean? What role did it play in family dynamics? Did learning about your name help solve a family mystery? I’d welcome your comments.

 Names can be mysterious and I hope you enjoy these photographs. Let me know what you think!

Mercato di Capo in Palermo, Sicily

This is the Mercato di Capo in Palermo, Sicily. Gianni Versace was born in Calabria and I wondered why this fellow was wearing a t-shirt bearing his name.

Stained glass stepping stone

Stained glass stepping stone

A stained glass stepping stone consists of individual sections that must be completed and assembled for the picture to emerge. If we understand the reasons why we have been given our name, perhaps we will come to see ourselves better.