Insert Middle Name Here
Place item was collected
Point of Discovery/Informant Bio
My informant is Mirelle DeSpain. We met, originally, in September 2017, and we have been friends since. She is studying electrical engineering with a minor in computer science at Utah State University, she is a sophomore in terms of years being at Utah State. Her family is from Meridian, Idaho.
This is a tradition in Mirelle’s family that affects, in no major way, the females in her family. Her great grandmother had a very long first, middle, maiden, and last name which inconvenienced her when she had to type, print, or sign her full legal name; there often was not enough room on the paper (form) for her whole name, so she started a tradition starting with her daughter, that continued down the line to my friend Mirelle, of the girls not having middle names as they would have their maiden name become their middle name when they got married. I got this in a telephone interview with Mirelle, as we didn’t have time to meet in person. The story is short, simple, and to the point. I would consider Mirelle a passive-bearer when it comes to transmitting folklore. I had never heard of this custom before Mirelle brought it to my attention. As the story revolved around her family, and I have a respect for privacy, I would not share this personally, outside this undergraduate research paper (which as proven in the release form I have permission to share with no restrictions).
My great grandmother had a very long first, middle, maiden, and last name. So, whenever she had to write her full name out, there was never enough space. So, it became tradition for the girls to not have a middle name, as their maiden name would become their middle name when they got married.
She told the story very calmly; however it’s hard to interpret emotion from pitch alone. She seemed influenced by the story to the point of continuing this tradition, if she has girls when she gets married. Her family stands by this custom, as far as I could tell from a brief interaction with her parents while they were in town to see her. This tradition may continue or it may die off in her family; it, of course, would end if the family line had no girls who would continue the tradition. She wasn’t overly enthusiastic or down on telling this story, so I can, safely, assume she doesn’t think about this story a lot, or have a strong emotional attachment to it; however, she brought it up when I mentioned having discussed family customs in my folklore class. She seemed rather detached from this story, but she is not known, at least to me, for showing emotional attachment, so it may have just been her personality mixed with the impersonal interview process that portrayed it that way to me. She had mentioned it to me before, but I asked her to repeat it when I had my recorder to be able to do a proper write up, so it may have also just been a dispassionate retelling.
Introduction to folklore
Prof Lynne McNeill
Semester and year
G1: Rites of Passage
Turner, Jake, "Insert Middle Name Here" (2018). USU Student Folklore Fieldwork. Paper 454.