As Uncle Sammy and I delved deeper into the charts of descent at ImaginesMaiorum and our family tree we noticed over and over the recurrence of certain first names in our direct line and branch family lines. It turns out that during the time our ancestors lived very strong traditions existed in the selection of a name for a child. We note them in the next section and then examine how this tradition was at work for Uncle Sammy’s paternal line (Serrapede).
Traditional Naming Patterns in Italian Families of the Past
In the past Italian families followed a traditional pattern of naming their children as follows:
Who was named after paternal Grandparents:
**The first son in the family was named after his paternal Grandfather.
**The first daughter was named after her paternal Grandmother.
Who was named after the maternal Grandparents:
**The second son was named after his maternal Grandfather.
**The second daughter was named after her maternal Grandmother.
The Naming Patterns within Uncle Sammy’s branch of the Serrapede family
Names in bold show the recurrence of a name in Sammy’s direct line. The label “First Generation” is used for the earliest ancestors we have records for through ImaginesMaiorum.net
Ancestors: Luigi and Angela Maria Serrapede (Sammy’s Second Great Grandparents)
Children of Luigi and Angela Maria:
–Sabato (1834-1893) (Sammy’s Great Grandfather)
Ancestors: Sabato and Filomena Serrapede (Sammy’s Great Grandparents)
-Luigi (b. 1860)
-Angela Maria (b. 1861)
–Gennaro (b. 1867) (Sammy’s paternal Grandfather)
Ancestors: Gennaro and Emilia Serrapede (Sammy’s Grandparents)
–Sabato (1900-2002)(Sammy’s Father)
Ancestors: Sabato and Josie Serrapede (Sammy’s parents)
Emily Leatrice (Emilia Letizia)
Discussion with Uncle Sammy Sunday, 5/17/2015 11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Josie and Sam took a creative approach to naming their daughter. They combined the names of her paternal Grandmother (Emilia) and maternal Grandmother (Letizia). Thus in Italian her name was Emilia Letizia. Then Josie anglicized it to Emily Leatrice.
We do not recall middle names being used by the older generation but it was a common practice amongst the second generation to give the third generation Italian-American children a middle name. It was considered a way to distinguish a child if they were named after a relative and it was also a way to add more individuality to the child’s identity. Among many third generation Italian-American girls the middle name of Ann was very popular in the 1950s. You could meet many girls named Mary Ann (Marianna in Italian). Another popular middle name was Marie. You could have several Ann Maries in class(Anna Maria in Italian).
Uncle Sammy was baptized Sabbatino, which is a variation on his father’s name Sabato. Amongst the family he was called Junior until he was in his 30s and nicknamed Sammy by everyone else. These name patterns fell into disuse after the third generation of descendants began their own families. Succeeding generations of descendants of Italian immigrants to America chose names that they liked or felt expressed a unique quality they wanted for their child.
Italian Naming Traditions