Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Harrison Burwell

When [Dana] Burwell took her maiden name back after divorce, she also added her mother’s natal name as a middle name.

Her own mother “intentionally only gave me a first and last name. She kept the middle name blank, which [was unusual], and her hope was that someday I would hyphenate my name, my surname if I got married and hyphenate it to my new partner… That was her thinking; isn’t that weird?”

On marrying she began using her natal name, Burwell, as a middle name, while taking her husband’s as her surname. “I chose to be Rippe without hyphenating the Burwell and that was mostly because of a weak communication I was having at the time with my father — I wasn’t having a connection.” “If I had a career established I’m sure I would have kept my maiden name and hyphenated it. I think that was the trend at the time, for career women. It was much more common for women in journalism and writers to keep their maiden names for generations.” One friend, a writer and a dean, was “Dr. Konek” in public but “anything on paper was Carol Woolf,” her husband’s surname.

She says, “I think I would pass down to my girls to definitely consider maintaining some family name in your name when you move on instead of dropping it entirely. I think it’s important. And I don’t’ know, it doesn’t have to be [your natal name]–it can be any family name that you want to take on.”

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