Russian naming patterns for immigrants to the US?

+3 votes

I have noticed that on US records, wives are listed with their husbands' last names. However, twice now I have seen a photo of a gravestone that lists a wife's surname with the "ova" attached. Ex: Hibl, Hiblova. One instance is that the maiden name uses the "ova" (see below).

Which to use? The documents or the gravestone? Here is a pic from FindAGrave that shows the "ova' added: This one is of a woman having the "ova' attached to her maiden name.

in The Tree House by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
retagged by Maggie N.
It is my understanding that the feminine endings are basically just possessives: Hiblova means "Hibl's". That could be "Hibl's wife", but it could also be "Hibl's daughter".

As for what she used, that comes down to context. If the gravestone was in Czech, then all of the names (and dates and platitudes) were in Czech. If a death certificate (say) was in English, then the names on it were in English: Mrs. Rosalie Polensky. I don't know what they generally did with Slavic maiden names in English, but if she was born in a Czech-speaking context, then what she did with it in English is mostly irrelevant to WikiTree.

2 Answers

+4 votes
You'd have to coordinate with other documents to know for sure what she used while in the USA.  There certainly isn't a hard and fast rule once a woman immigrates.
From the marker itself, it looks like Polenskyho might also be what she used, -- that's the feminine for Polensky -- after marriage instead of her maiden name. This could be an old fashioned usage, there have been many different language/alphabet and name reforms in Slavic nations in the last 100 years. Normally the feminine ending of a -sky name would be -ska.

This also appears to be Czech, but I don't entirely know. I am most familiar with Bulgarian, Macedonian, Russian surnames.

To play it safe you can use the AKA field instead of current last name. Current last name can easily be altered as opposed to LNAB.
by Dina Grozev G2G6 Pilot (118k points)
Hi Dina! Yes, I’m working on Bohemian immigrants from Russia, so you pegged that one!

I have found no documentation in census records or SSDI for the unique spelling. Since we try to use the name that they were given (which I can’t tell... no records from Russia), I’m not sure if I am entering them correctly. It’s documents vrs. usage.
0 votes
Imagine an Italian census taker trying to spell Finnish names!

Russian names do have masculine and feminine endings. So did Lithuanian names, which were often misspelled when the immigrants arrived.  The census records present great problems.  I have aLithuanian family in which 3 brothers are buried with 3 different surnames.... Klimkevich, Klim, and Klem.   The feminine would be Klimkeviciute.    Lithuanian has roots in Sanskrit so it is somewhat different than Russian.
by Anne X G2G6 Mach 2 (28.0k points)
Just to clarify, Lithuanian is not a direct descendant (in language terms) of Sanskrit. It is an Indo-European (IE) language, so part of the same family that includes Sanskrit and also Russian and English, among many others. Lithuanian is famously conservative and therefore the cognates between it and the ancient IE languages are quite obvious, however, that should be confused with Lithuanian being directly descended from Sanskrit. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, from the Balto-Slavic branch of Indo-European (Russian is in the Slavic half of that branch). Sanskrit is from the Indo-Aryan subgroup of the Indo-European languages, so they might be understood as linguistic cousins.

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