onomastics place names
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This is a website of the American Name Society
This site was created as one of the ways to celebrate the 50th anniversary (December 29, 2001) of the American Name Society. Alan Rayburn has coordinated the production of the essays, and Michael McGoff has created this site. The scholars are listed alphabetically. The authors of the individual sections have been noted in italics at the end of each piece. To read a piece simply click on the scholar's name. (Please see the bottom of this site to learn how you can contribute a biography or a correction.)
George Philip Vernon Akrigg (1913-2001)
Philip and Helen Akrigg devoted almost forty years to the study of the placenames of British Columbia, and published six books on the province’s toponymy.
Philip was born in Calgary, Alberta on August 13, 1913, the elder son of Royal North West Mounted Police officer George Straker Akrigg and Rose Norton Akrigg. In 1934 Philip registered as a student at the University of British Columbia, earned a B.A. in History and English three years later, and an M.A. in 1940. In 1944 he received a Ph.D. in English ifrom the University of California at Berkeley. In that same year he married Helen Manning.
Philip - he always identified himself as G.P.V. Akrigg on the covers of his books - returned to the UBC’s English Department, where, for over 60 years, he taught Shakespeare with considerable love and awe.
Helen received an Honours B.A. in history at UBC. Her graduating essay in 1943 was devoted to the names of the Cariboo region between Kamloops and Prince George. In 1969, Philip and Helen established Discovery Press as their own publisher, and produced 1001 British Columbia Place Names, in alphabetical format. A second revised edition was published the following year, and the third edition followed in 1973.
Although they relied on good primary and secondary sources, Philip strongly believed that the grammatical rules of the English language should be reflected in geographical names. For example, he recast the official municipal name Gibsons as Gibson’s Landing. Apparently he was unaware that local businessmen petitioned in 1948 to have the name spelled without the apostrophe. In the three editions, the Strait of Georgia was identified as the Gulf of Georgia, the original name given by Captain George Vancouver in 1792. In 1858 Captain George Richards replaced “Gulf” with “Strait.” That was adopted by the Geographic Board in 1900, but the Akrigg team chose to ignore the essential facts.
In 1986, the Akriggs set up the Sono Nis Press, and published British Columbia Place Names, in which over 2,300 names were presented in dictionary style. The Strait of Georgia appeared correctly under that name, but Gibson’s was inserted in brackets after Gibsons. A second edition was produced two years later. Over 29,000 copies of the book were sold between 1986 and 1999, when it was reprinted.
Philip Akrigg died in Vancouver on February 8, 2001. The name Akrigg will be forever attached to the toponymy of British Columbia.
Madison S. Beeler (1910–1989)
Madison Beeler was born in Seattle; he received both his B.A. and his Ph.D. (in Comparative Philology, 1936) at Harvard. In 1941 he joined the Department of German at the University of California, Berkeley; on that campus he taught comparative Germanic and Indo-European linguistics, along with the theory and method of historical linguistics, until his retirement in 1977.
Through his philological training, Beeler had become interested in onomastics; and in 1953, in the first issue of the journal Names, he published an article on the etymology of the placename "America." Around the same time, stimulated by his contact with Berkeley faculty and students who were doing fieldwork on California Indian languages, he began research on California placenames of Native American origin. This in turn led to Beeler’s doing fieldwork with the last speaker of the Barbareño Chumash language, who was then living in Southern California. Over the years he published several articles on California Indian linguistics, including several on toponymy; most important of these, perhaps, is his methodological paper "On etymologizing Indian place-names" (Names 5:236–40, 1957). In 1974 he completed a survey article on American Indian toponymy for the Smithsonian Institution’s Handbook of North American Indians; after his death, it was published in the Linguistics volume of that series (HNAI 17:185–99, 1996).
When the journal Names was founded on the Berkeley campus in 1953, under the editorship of E. G. Gudde of the German Department, Beeler was a member of the Editorial Board. In 1957, succeeding Gudde, Beeler became the second editor of the journal, serving through 1959. During this period and afterward, he did much to stimulate interest in onomastics among Berkeley students of California Indian languages; and some half-dozen resulting articles were published in Names. After his retirement, a festschrift, American Indian and Indoeuropean studies: Papers in honor of Madison S. Beeler, was edited by some of his students (The Hague: Mouton, 1980); and a biographical sketch, with a list of Beeler’s publications, was included. An obituary note, published in the SSILA Newsletter 8:1.3–4 (Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of America Newsletter, 1989), paid him tribute in these words: "A man of impeccable erudition and formidable mien, Madison Beeler was not an easy person to know well. But those who had this privilege discovered a man of intense loyalty both to individuals and to institutions, deep sensitivity to the beauty of nature, and unbounded generosity."
William Bright (1928-2006)
William Bright was born in Oxnard, California. He received his B.A. in linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1949 and his Ph. D., also in linguistics and also from Berkeley, in 1955. He taught at UCLA from 1959 until his retirement in 1988. He was the recipient of Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, and NEH Fellowships. At the time of his death he was Professor Adjoint of Linguistics at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
As a young man, Bright had many interests and aspirations. He entered the University of California in 1945 as a premed student, changed his major to Spanish, and then to linguistics, in which he became interested after an exposure to Nahuatl during summer school in Mexico City in 1947. The range of his analytical work is astonishing: In addition to Spanish and Nahuatl, he worked with languages as widely distributed and as typologically diverse as Karuk, Kannada, Kaqchikel, Tamil, Tulu, Luisena, Ute, and Yurok. In addition, at various times he taught Hindi, Urdu, and French.
Bright’s main interests were divided between linguistics proper and names. In linguistics he is perhaps best known for his work with the Karok (who made him the first honorary member of the tribe) and for his editorship of Language, from 1965 until 1987. Among his major linguistic publications are Sociolinguistics (1966), the four-volume International Encyclopedia of Linguistics (1992), and The World’s Writing Systems (1992).
Bright’s first onomastic essay, “Some Place Names on the Klamath River” (1952), was published while he was a graduate student. This was followed by “Karok Names” in 1958.
After he retired from teaching Bright began to devote more of his time to toponymy, particularly native placenames of the Americas. He edited a special issue of Names: A Journal of Onomastics on North American Geographic Names (1996); from 1998 he wrote “The Placename Department” for the SSILA (Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas) Newsletter; he revised and expanded George Eichler’s Colorado Place Names (1993) and E. G. Gudde’s California Place Names (1998). From this volume he drew 1500 California Place Names (1998). Bright’s most significant contribution to onomastics is Native American Placenames of the United States (2004), a comprehensive placename dictionary summarizing to that time what was known about the origins and distribution of U. S. placenames derived from native sources..
Margaret M. Bryant (1900-1993)
Margaret Bryant was born to John and Hattie Bryant in Edgefield County, South Carolina, 3 December 1900. She died on 15 July 1993. On her tombstone she is described simply as "Educator," but her career, after a B.A. at Winthrop College (1921), a master's degree (1925) and a doctorate (1931) at Columbia University, included much more.
Margaret was one of the founding faculty of Brooklyn College (where she taught for 40 years), a founding member in 1951 of the American Name Society (and twice its president), president of the American Society of Geolinguistics, a leader in many other scholarly organizations (including Phi Beta Kappa, the American Association of University Women, and the International Linguistic Association, the American Dialect Society, and more), an honored lecturer at major universities in Europe, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, China (where she escaped on the last boat out before World War II began) and Japan (where her autobiography was published)
Allen Walker Read summarized her work in her festschrift in Names 22: 3 (September 1974), from English in the Law Courts (1930, reprinted 1962) to such works as Functional English Grammar, Modern English and Its Heritage, and Current American Usage (1962). Her interests went beyond grammar and syntax to onomastics, lexicography, proverbs and folklore. "Can any other scholar match her life-long devotion to sound scholarship in language?," asked Professor Read at a luncheon in Prof. Bryant's honor held on April 24, 1971, and he added: "I do not know who he or she could be." She authored 11 books and over 100 articles (including the history of the first 25 years of ANS) and was the chairman of the English Department at Brooklyn College before chairperson came into use. Indeed, at one time she and Louise Pound were the only two female members of a certain important linguistic association.
She was forever recruiting, in the Modern Language Association, at conferences in the U.S. and abroad, anywhere she could, new members for any of "her" scholarly organizations. She mentored and inspired many. In her obituary in Names 41: 2 (June 1993), reference is made to her hiring Leonard Ashley at Brooklyn College, and persuading him to join various societies, many of which he was elected president or secretary. Several scholars worldwide gratefully acknowledge that they owe to Margaret Bryant their introduction to the study of names.
Leonard R. N. Ashley
Meredith Frederic ("Pete") Burrill (1902-1997)
In the field of geographic names, there are few persons whose achievements and contributions can match those of Meredith Burrill, known commonly as Pete. Born in Maine, he studied history and government at Bates College, graduating in 1925. He then entered the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University, where he received a PhD in 1930. His professional career started with teaching at the University of Oklahoma.
Ten years later, Burrill joined the General Land Office of the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. In 1943, he became the chief of the newly formed Office of Geography and the Executive Secretary of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. It was recognized that the Board had the potential during World War II to provide accurate names that were lacking on maps of foreign areas, and it was expanded from a staff of four to an organization with approximately 175 geographers, cartographers, linguists, and librarians.
In 1955, Burrill and a few individuals from other countries persuaded the United Nations to develop programs to foster names standardization on a global basis. The First UN Conference on Geographical Names took place in Geneva in 1967, with Burrill serving as its president. That meeting generated a number of resolutions concerning methods for countries to develop consistent names. He was an active participant in UN programs until his retirement in 1973, yet still served as the principal U.S. delegate at the Fifth Conference in 1977.
Burrill initiated a monumental survey of generic terms on U.S. Geological Survey quadrangles, and demonstrated their geographic and linguistic distributions. He wrote approximately thirty articles and some thirty reviews about climate, geographic names, gazetteers, land-use practices, and related geographic topics.
Respected by colleagues in geography, Burrill was the president of the Association of American Geographers in 1966. After his death in 1997, the AAG created an endowment in his name to encourage students and researchers to engage in various fields of that discipline, including names. He received honors from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Defense for his work on placenames.
The December 1984 issue of Names was dedicated to him. An In Memoriam reflected on his life and career in the March 1998 issue of Names.
Without question, Burrill made major contributions to the field of geographic names, and through his professionalism, persuaded many others to pursue applied and academic aspects of that field.
Richard R. Randall
Frederic Gomes (“Fred”) Cassidy (1907-2000)
Fred Cassidy is best known as General Editor of DARE, the Dictionary of American Regional English, the 5-volume work begun in the 1960s to treat (in theory at least) all the words in American English with regional distributions. In addition to lexicography, Fred was a world class scholar in onomastics, historical linguistics, and regional and social dialects. He died in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 14, 2000, as the result of a stroke he suffered several weeks before.
Cassidy was born in 1907 in Kingston, Jamaica; his first language was Jamaican Creole, about which he published two major works, Jamaica Talk (1961) and, with Robert LePage, The Dictionary of Jamaican English (1967).
Cassidy’s family moved to Ohio in 1918. He received his B.A. (1930) and M.A. (1932) from Oberlin College. His Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Michigan (1938) was on the history of English pronouns. He then migrated to Madison, Wisconsin and never left. In 1999 the University of Wisconsin proudly recognized a 60-year association with him.
Although he was not present at the founding of the American Name Society, he joined in its early years and for nearly a half century was one of its staunchest supporters. He was on the ANS governing board for a number of years and served as ANS president in 1980. It is appropriate that his first contribution to the journal NAMES appeared in volume 1: "A review of Orkney Farm-Names;" forty years later, his last, "A Note on Names and Censors," appeared in volume 41. He was an active placename scholar to the end of his life and at least one essay, "Some French Place Names in Wisconsin," appeared posthumously in 2000. His best known onomastic work is The Place-Names of Dane County, Wisconsin, publication number 7 of the American Dialect Society, originally published in 1947. The monograph, known simply as "Cassidy's Dane County," is probably the most influential study of placenames to have been published in the United States. Its methodology, sources, analysis, form and style have informed the last half century of placename research. The introductory material especially is as relevant today as it was in 1947. He wrote another monograph, The Place Names of Brown County, Wisconsin, which has not been published, even though it was completed some years ago.
Cassidy’s library of onomastics, which he had collected over six decades, is now in the Lurline Coltharp Collection at the University of Texas, El Paso.
Lurline Hughes Coltharp (1913 - 1998)
Cruising down the Rhine she thought about her name, Lurline, meaning Siren, women whose singing lured unwary sailors onto rocks; these were the kind of insights into naming that intrigued her. She loved to travel and was always on the lookout for a good story on the names of places. Coltharp means "cold village," and yet she was one of the warmest people you could hope to meet.
Born on May 13, 1913, in Bridgeport, Texas to Frank Hughes and Mary (Fisher) Hughes, her family moved to El Paso just 14 days later. She attended El Paso High School and the College of Mines (now the University of Texas at El Paso - UTEP) for two years and the University of Texas (Austin), where she received her B.A. degree in history in 1935. She married Edwin Douglas, a mining engineer and they had two children, Mary Lasky, now a division manager at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics laboratory, and Robert Douglas, presently a director at Martin Marietta in Orlando, Florida. She returned to El Paso in 1954, where she began teaching English and English as a Second Language at the UTEP, taking off a year in 1964 to complete her doctorate. In 1963, she married Robert Coltharp, a professor at UTEP, who shared her love of travel. She died on August 1, 1998.
At a meeting of the Modern Language Association in Chicago, Margaret Bryant introduced Coltharp to the field of onomastics. Dr. Coltharp then introduced her students to the study of names. They documented the history of street names in Smeltertown, whose streets in southwest El Paso had been named after World War II casualties.
Coltharp served on the editorial board of the American Dialect Society, 1984-87, was president of the American Name Society, 1978, and was a director of the International Congress on Onomastic Sciences, 1978-84. She retired as professor emerita of English and Linguistics from UTEP in 1981. In 1993 she hosted the Western States Geographic Names Conference and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names in El Paso.
In 1991, she set up an endowment for the Lurline H. Coltharp Collection of Onomastics, now containing over 1700 items. The collection has been recognized by the Place Name Survey of the United States as a toponymic national research center. Two of her own books are also in the collection, Names in a Pawn Shop: A Study of Navajo Names (1966) and Bilingual Onomastics: A Case Study (1973).
Robert Douglas (1881-1930)
Robert Douglas was appointed the second secretary of the Geographic Board of Canada on December 7, 1916, succeeding Arthur Henry Whitcher. An accomplished writer, he compiled the Board’s decisions in the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th reports of the Board during his 15-year career at the Board. The 18th Report recorded all the decisions of the Board from 1898 to 1924.
Douglas wrote Meaning of Canadian City Names (1922), Place Names of the Magdalen Islands (1922), and in French in the Bulletin de la Société de géographie du Québec (1925), Place Names of Prince Edward Island, with Meanings (1925), Place Names of Alberta (1928), and Place Names of Manitoba (1933). He also wrote several articles for the Department of Interior’s journal Natural Resources. Douglas’s name did not appear on the cover pages of the Alberta and Manitoba publications, so that subsequent publications on the geographic names of those provinces did not credit Douglas’s pioneering efforts. In fact, the current four-volume series on Alberta’s names, published between 1991 and 1996, do not mention the 1928 book in each "Introduction," although it is cited among the references.
A native of Scotland, Douglas graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an M.A. degree. He was a journalist for the Reynolds newspaper in London, England and for the Globe in Toronto, before accepting his appointment with the Geographic Board in Ottawa in 1916.
Shortly before his death on November 3, 1930, he had accepted an invitation from the editor of the Canadian Geographical Journal to contribute a monthly column on Canadian place names. His obituary in the Ottawa Citizen observed that "he was always very studious and was known throughout Canada for his research work in libraries. During his career his works were accepted by a number of universities in Canada, and he was also well-known in the United States as a writer." Although Douglas spent only 15 years at the Board, he exerted considerable influence on its future direction. He left a large book collection, but the Board was unable to buy it from his widow because of severe financial constraints following the sudden collapse of the world’s market economies.
Douglas was buried in Pinecrest Cemetery in Nepean, Ontario, not far from his home in Britannia Heights, then a suburb of Ottawa, but now part of the city. He had been married to the former Mary Catherine Quinn of Brockville, Ontario. They had adopted two children, Constance, who died in November, 1929, and Hope.
Jean-Paul Drolet (1918-2001)
Jean-Paul Drolet was the 14th Chair of Canada’s national naming authority, presiding over the Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names ( CPCGN) from 1964 to 1988. As the longest serving Chair, he provided stalwart leadership and never missed the Committee’s annual meeting.
Born in Québec July 15, 1918, Drolet studied at Université Laval, where he earned a B.A. and a B.Sc. in mining engineering, and at Columbia University for an M.Sc. in mining engineering and mineral economics. This field of endeavor became his life-long pursuit and passion; his achievements were later recognized by honorary doctorates from McGill and Laurentian universities. His career advanced from mineral prospecting in Québec to management of the Québec Cartier Mining Company. In 1964 he was appointed an Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) in the federal Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. By the time of his retirement in 1983, Drolet was Senior Assistant Deputy Minister (International Minerals). He died in Ottawa on August 14, 2001.
In accordance with the Order in Council of the CPCGN at the time, Jean-Paul Drolet took on the position of Chair of the Committee shortly after his federal appointment. He lead the Committee during three decades and in many significant activities. For example, during this time all provinces and territories took responsibility for toponymy within their jurisdictions, several CPCGN advisory committees were established, field collection of names was important, the journal Canoma was initiated, both the cultural and the technical aspects of toponymy were brought to the fore, policies on English-French names use were developed, Aboriginal names issues were addressed, and the sweeping advances in computer technology led to the development of geographical names data bases and increased dissemination possibilities.
Jean-Paul Drolet’s personal interest in naming was clear from his contributions to the Committee, his use of historical sources in the naming of streets in the new town of Port-Cartier, and his authorship of All about Mineralochoronymy (1982).
One of Dr. Drolet’s principal legacies to the Committee’s work was his contribution to international activities. He led the Canadian delegation to the first four United Nations Conferences on the Standardization of Geographical Names. In 1987, Drolet invited the Fifth Conference to Montréal and took on the role of President of the Conference.
As CPCGN Chair, Dr. Drolet contributed substantially to the work and prestige of Canada’s national names authority, through his strong sense of purpose for the Committee and his awareness of the significant cultural and technical duality of toponymy.
Edward Charles [Ed] Ehrensperger (1895-1984)
Edward Ehrensperger was born in Indianapolis, May 23, 1895. He graduated from Harvard in 1916 "with highest honors in English." He earned an A.M. at Harvard in 1918, and then completed a Ph.D. in 1921. He taught at Northwestern in Illinois and Wellesley in Massachusetts before moving in 1932 to the University of South Dakota as chair of the English Department, a position he held until 1962. Upon retirement from USD in 1964, he chaired the English Department at Yankton College, finally retiring again in 1972.
A strong interest in language and names led him to the American Dialect Society, and he was appointed to head its placename committee. In 1951, he was present at the organizing of the American Name Society, and for a number of years coordinated the placename activities between ANS and ADS. He began an annual summary of research activity in placenames, which has continued as The Ehrensperger Report.
Ehrensperger’s involvement with placename study began in the 1930s under the influence of Louise Pound and Robert L. Ramsay. Using Ramsay’s model of having graduate students research placenames, he directed sixteen M.A. theses devoted to the study of names in South Dakota counties. In 1939 he invited out-of-work writers to research names in the state, and within six months they produced six pamphlets explaining the origins of over six thousand names. These pamphlets provided the basis for South Dakota Place Names (1941). He and his colleagues knew the book had deficiencies. Then, in 1973 a Sioux Falls company, without informing anyone connected with the original work, printed a revised version of the 1941 book under the title South Dakota Geographic Names, listing as editor Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, a Lakota author. Minor changes were made, but fewer than ten new names were added. The awkward feature-type organization was retained and errors were uncorrected. Ehrensperger, understandably disappointed, knew that there would be no market for a new book. Now, nearly thirty years later, the 1973 book, which is really Ehrensperger’s, is still the only source listing name origins statewide.
Ehrensperger served as president of the ANS in 1968, and regularly attended the annual meetings into his mid-eighties. Even though he never finished the work on South Dakota names, he continued his annual ANS report until shortly before his death on April 18, 1984. With his wife, Helen (who died in 1980), he had two sons, Charles and Donald. An In Memoriam is in Names 33:1-5 (1985).
Thomas Parry [Tom] Field (1914-1990)
As a professor of geography at the University of Kentucky from 1948 to 1981, Tom Field focused on a variety of topics, including population, settlement, cartography, culture, education, and toponymy, with special interests in Kentucky and the South Pacific.
Field was born on June 6, 1914 in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, southwest of Pittsburgh, and was raised in Johnson City, Tennessee. In 1934 he earned a B.S. from Eastern Tennessee State University in Johnson City, and received an M.A. in 1940 from George Peabody College in Nashville. With a long fascination with flying, he trained in 1942-43 at the Naval Aviation Ground School at Grosse Isle, Michigan. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1943, and was stationed in Perth, Australia, where he took part in PBY Long Range Reconnaissance until the end of World War II. He met Nancie Emerson Davis in Perth, and they were married there on July 29, 1944. On his return to the United States, he enrolled in the graduate geography program at the University of North Carolina, and received a Ph.D. in 1948.
In the early 1950s, Field undertook the production of several gazetteers for the Army Map Service. The idea of compiling a gazetteer of Kentucky’s names grew out of that experience, and in 1961 his Guide to Kentucky Place Names, with nearly 40,000 entries, was published. Thirty years later a second revised edition was published. He served on the Kentucky Advisory Committee on Names to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, and contributed articles on Indian and religious place names to the journal Names.
In 1965, Field completed the compilation of the map of “Kentucky and the Southwest Territory.” The following year he prepared a 50-page gazetteer for the map, and it was published with the map as Kentucky Study Series Number 7.
Field took delight in analyzing man’s identification of his landscape and in investigating the philosophical, psychological, social and cultural aspects in the naming of physical and cultural features. Although he was known for his calm and gentle demeanor, he could easily get into a rant about the imbecility of some of the early landscape namers, such as Dr. Thomas Walker, who named Cumberland Gap in 1850 after the notorious Butcher of Culloden in Scotland, April 16, 1746.
After his retirement in 1982, Tom Field restored his fascination with flying by enjoying engine-powered model airplanes. He died in Lexington on November 13, 1990.
William A. Withington
Allen [Bob] Fowkes
Fowkes was born in Harrison, New York. He received his B.A. in 1934 from
New York University (NYU), with majors in both German and Latin, and his M.A.
from NYU a year later. He held a
fellowship at the University of Bonn (1936-37). He received his Ph.D. in 1947
from Columbia University. Fowkes
began teaching at NYU in 1938 as an instructor in German.
He later became head of the German Department (1957-1968).
He retired from NYU in 1978, but continued as professor emeritus to
lecture on Avestan, Old Irish, Gothic, Hittite, and other languages at NYU.
He also held a Guggenheim Fellowship in Welsh. During World War II
he supervised technical research in German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian,
French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Japanese.
Later, at NYU he taught Yiddish, Gothic, Old Saxon, Frisian, Old Norse,
Scandinavian, Sanskrit as well as German. He
was visiting professor of Celtic languages at Columbia University in 1947.
major book was Gothic Etymological Studies (1947), and his articles appeared in
Word, Language, Germanic Review, Armenian Digest, and many
foreign journals. He was equally knowledgeable about Arabic, Breton,
linguistic geography, ancient and modern philology. Whether in an expert
article in a professional journal or in an informal talk to the Names Institute
he was always entertaining as well as highly informative.
of the American Name Society (ANS) have been aware that Fowkes was president of
the Linguistics Circle of New York (later called the International Linguistic
Association). He was a member of
the advisory board of American Speech. He
wrote "Welsh Naming Practices, with a Comparative Look at the Cornish"
in the journal Names in 1981.
principal contribution to ANS was to present learned papers at Names Institute
meetings that familiarized members with interesting aspects of foreign
languages. At the time of his death
(he was struck by a car while crossing the street in Yonkers, New York) he was
still working on a 30-year project to compile the first-ever etymological
dictionary of Welsh. Bob Fowkes was
given a Festschrift by Word (April 1980).
On October 14, 1978, ILA organized a colloquium in his honor, and on
April 25, 1999 NYU held a celebration in his memory attended by his family.
He was a beloved husband and father, grandfather and great-grandfather of
ANS remembers him as our own charming and wise druid, a man who demonstrated in his life and his teaching that language, poetic or prosaic, is the most magical of human powers.
R. N. Ashley
Henry Gannett (1846-1914)
Henry Gannett was one of the great pioneering geographers, topographers and toponymists in the United States. Many consider him as a man who did more than any other nineteenth century person to systematize the science of geography in its practical application and to develop modern American topographic mapping. Born August 24, 1846 in Bath, Maine, he earned a civil engineering degree at Harvard in 1869 and a mining engineering degree at Hooper Mining School.
Gannett was briefly an assistant at the Harvard Observatory and then, in 1872, joined the U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, under the direction of Ferdinand Hayden. As a topographer for the western division of the Hayden Survey, he mapped a number of features in the western United States, where he developed an interest in geographic naming. When the “Great Western Surveys” were merged in 1879 to form the U.S. Geological Survey, he was appointed the geographer with the 1880 census. In 1882 he became the Chief Geographer in charge of topographic mapping of the United States. He was assigned as the geographer to the 1890 and 1900 U.S. censuses, and to the Cuba and Puerto Rico censuses of 1899, the Philippines census of 1902, and the Cuba census again in 1906.
As Chief Geographer of the U.S. Geological Survey, Gannett was a member of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names from its inception in 1890 and served as its chairman from 1894 until his death in 1914. He played a major role in developing its organization, principles, policies and procedures, most of which are still in force.
He was the author of a number of articles and books on geographic names and the Board, including The Origin Of Certain Place Names in the United States, published by the Survey in 1902. He also was responsible for the compilation of a series of state gazetteers between 1894 and 1904 published by the Survey.
Gannett Peak, the highest peak in Wyoming, and Mount Gannett in Alaska were named for Henry Gannett, who died in Washington, D.C. on November 5, 1914.
The best accounts of Gannett’s life and work are Robert H. Block’s “Henry Gannett, 1846-1914,” in Geographers: Bibliographic Studies, V. 8, 1894, 45-9, and Thomas G. Manning’s Government in Science: the U.S. Geological Survey, 1867-1894, published in 1967. Obituaries can be found in National Geographic magazine, V. 26, 1914, 609-13, and in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, V. 7, 1917, 68-70.
Donald J. Orth
Francis Ganong (1864-1941)
Ganong was a brilliant Canadian natural scientist who bridged the 19th and 20th
centuries. Professionally, he was a
botany professor at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, from 1894 to
1932, but his scientific interests were far-ranging, including zoology,
biogeography, physiography, meteorology, climatology, surveying, historical
cartography, historical geography, history, and toponymy.
During his life, he accumulated 10 years in scientific land and water
journeys through New Brunswick, studying and writing about everything he
Ganong was a brilliant Canadian natural scientist who bridged the 19th and 20th
centuries. Professionally, he was a
botany professor at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, from 1894 to
1932, but his scientific interests were far-ranging, including zoology,
biogeography, physiography, meteorology, climatology, surveying, historical
cartography, historical geography, history, and toponymy.
During his life, he accumulated 10 years in scientific land and water
journeys through New Brunswick, studying and writing about everything he
was born on February 19, 1864 in Carleton (now Saint John West in the city of
Saint John). In the 1870s, his
father and an uncle founded Ganong Brothers, the well-known candy industry in
the border town of St. Stephen, where it still flourishes.
Ganong received a B.A. from the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton)
in 1884, an A.B. from Harvard in 1887, and an M.A. from U.N.B. the following
year. The same university awarded him a Ph.D. in 1898, four years
after he had earned a Ph.D. from the University of Munich.
1896, Ganong published a major monograph on the geographical names of New
Brunswick in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, and
followed it ten years later with a shorter monograph with corrections and
additions. “An Essay Towards an
Understanding of the Principles of Nomenclature” in the 1896 monograph is
reproduced in Alan Rayburn’s Geographical Names of New Brunswick
acquired a basic knowledge of the Maliseet and Mi’kmaq languages.
With that knowledge and extensive consultation with linguists and native
historians, he undertook the scientific investigation of aboriginal place names
in the three Maritime Provinces, and published six articles in the Transactions
between 1911 and 1928.
1929 and 1937, Ganong published nine articles in the Transactions on the
crucial maps in the early cartography and place-nomenclature of the Atlantic
coast of Canada. With this title, the articles were drawn together in a book,
and published by the University of Toronto Press in 1964.
named several geographical features in central and northern New Brunswick,
including the highest summit, Mount Carleton (after Lieutenant-Governor Thomas
Carleton). Another mountain to the
north of it was named after Ganong in 1901 by naturalist Mauran Furbish, who
traveled with him that year.
died in Saint John on September 7, 1941. William
Ganong Hall, on the campus of the University of New Brunswick - Saint John, was
named in his honor in 1968.
Demetrius John (“Mimis”) Georgacas (1908-1990)
Demetrius Georgacas was born on January 30, 1908 in Siderokastron, in the Greek Peloponnesus. Having finished his doctoral studies in 1932 at the University of Athens, he started working as an editor of Modern Greek and historical Greek dictionaries. In 1938, he went to Germany, where he worked on the third volume of the Griechische Grammatik, which contains the index to the two preceding volumes on phonology, morphology, and syntax.
Although lexicography and lexicology remained the main areas of Georgacas’s efforts, he also produced important onomastic works, such as a detailed study in Greek of the name and history of the Balkan tribe of Sarakatsanians (1949). With William A. McDonald, he wrote Place Names of South West Peloponnesus (University of Minnesota 1967), a detailed study of the historical and modern toponymy of that area of Greece. The Name ‘Asia’ for the Continent: Its History and Origin (1969) and The Names for the Asia Minor Peninsula and a Register of Anatolian Pre-Turkish Place-Names (1971) complement each other.
Georgacas did post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago in 1946-47, and taught classics at the University of Utah, 1951-53. He then transferred to the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and remained there until his retirement in 1978. The university supported his work on a Greek-English dictionary, which traced the transformation of colloquial language into modern Greek idiom. Toward the end of his life, Georgacas had collected over 2,000,000 slips with illustrative contexts. Some 7,000 typed pages of the dictionary’s edited text into the letter “B” were sent to the Dumbarton Oaks Byzantological Library, Washington, D.C., the Academy of Athens, and the National Endowment for Humanities, the main sponsor of the project.
Georgacas’s The Ichthyological Terms for ‘Sturgeon’ and the International Terms for Botargo, Caviar, Anchovy, and Congeners, published in 1978 by the Academy in Athens, is a classic. In more than 300 pages, the reader will learn practically everything that is known about all the pertinent words in many languages, mainly Greek and the present internationally important European languages.
Georgacas was twice a Guggenheim fellow. A charter member of the American Name Society, he was its President in 1965, and the Editor of Names, 1960-61. Demetrius Georgacas was assisted in his scholarly pursuits by Barbara Williams Georgacas, associate professor of Greek at USD. They had been married in 1948. He died in Grand Forks on February 7, 1990. Obituaries were published in Dictionaries 12 (1990) and Names 39.1 (March 1991).
Byrd Howell Granger (1912-1991)
Byrd Howell was born on Long Island, New York, on October 18, 1912, and added Granger to her name in 1940. After graduating in 1934 with a B.A. in biology from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, she operated a public relations firm in New York and was an advisor to the 1939 New York World’s Fair. After World War II, she moved to Tucson, Arizona, and became director of public relations for the Tucson United Community Campaign.
Granger joined the faculty of the University of Arizona in 1951 as a creative writing teacher. During her 27-year career at the university, she had been voted three times the Most Outstanding Professor by the students. She completed an M.A. in English at the University of Arizona in 1955 and earned a doctorate in English from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1961, with emphasis on folklore and western history.
In 1969, Granger was appointed by the American Name Society to organize and direct the National Place-Name Survey (PLANSUS). She designed a meticulous color-coded card system, and urged ANS members to implement her system of collecting place-name information in their respective states. When she was elected President of the Society in 1974, she stepped down as the director of PLANSUS.
In 1984, Granger was given the Sharlot Hall Award of Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame, the first time that it was not given posthumously. The annual award honors an Arizona woman who has made significant contributions to the understanding of the state’s history.
Byrd Granger, author of eight books, is best remembered for Arizona Names: X Marks the Place, published in 1983. In a review of the book, Meredith Burrill (Names, 1984, 453-4) observed: “A prodigious amount of scholarly work and care went into the compilation and editing. It is an obvious labor of love on the part of the author and those who helped her.” Her earlier works include Arizona Place Names (1960), an update of Will C. Barnes’s 1935 work, Grand Canyon Place Names (1960) and Early Mormon Place Names in Arizona.
Prior to her death on June 27, 1991 at her home in Carefree, AZ, Granger completed On Final Approach, an account of the WASPs (Women’s Air Force Service Pilots). In California she had commanded a squadron of the female pilots who had ferried fighter and light-bomber aircraft to various bases during World War II.
Erwin G. Gudde (1889-1969)
E. G. Gudde was born in Germany, but as a young man he immigrated to California. (His surname was pronounced [gÚdә] in German, usually [gÚdi] in English.) He received his doctorate in German literature in 1922 at the University of California, Berkeley, and he taught in the German Department at Berkeley until his retirement in 1956.
As early as 1927, Gudde’s interests turned to California history; and this topic, along with California toponymy, came to dominate his research. In 1943, the University of California Press published his 1000 California Place Names, and in 1949 his more comprehensive California Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. Second and third editions of both books were prepared during his lifetime; and fourth editions of both, revised and updated by the author of this note, appeared in 1998.
In 1951, Gudde was a founding member of the American Name Society, and he was the founding editor of the journal Names from 1953 through 1956. When he was eighty, the journal published a special issue in his honor; it contained an autobiographical memoir, "Vita nostra brevis est," which he had written ten years earlier, with a bibliography through 1959 (Names 7:1-16, 1969). In spite of the title of his memoir, he lived to be eighty, and an "In Memoriam" was published in the journal (7:293, 1969). In 1970, a five-mile stretch of wooded mountainside near Oakland, California, was officially named Gudde Ridge.
Gudde's orientation to toponymy was in terms of history, not of etymology. He was not always able to do justice to names of American Indian origins, and he was criticized for this by some linguists. However, Gudde's books on California placenames were in general highly successful, both with the public and with scholars. His Berkeley colleagues, unfortunately, were not willing to accord full recognition to his achievements; at his retirement from teaching, he held the rank of Associate Professor. Nevertheless, his magnum opus, California Place Names, became recognized in his lifetime as a model for state placename dictionaries, combining deep historical erudition with meticulous lexicographic acumen. The book has even been published in a Chinese translation, Chia chou ti ming tzu tien (Taipei, 1989). Gudde also deserves great praise for his role in launching the journal Names - which he hoped (as he put it) would be his " most lasting contribution to the realm of American letters."
Frank Rodway Hamlin (1935-2000)
Frank Hamlin taught for nearly thirty years in the Department of French at the University of British Columbia and was a tireless contributor to onomastic studies in Canada and abroad. Born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England in 1935, he studied at nearby Birmingham University and later at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he obtained his doctorate. He accepted his position at UBC in 1963.
Professor Hamlin's chief academic interest was in the placenames of the department of l'Hérault, the area surrounding the ancient Mediterranean cities of Montpellier and Béziers. This part of what is now France has been invaded or settled over the centuries by wave after wave of peoples speaking vastly different languages and the resulting toponymy is extremely complicated. Hamlin, with a collaborator, André Cabrol, devoted many years to unraveling the puzzles of this linguistic palimpsest, and published his findings in dictionary form as Les Noms de lieux du département de l'Hérault in 1983. This work, not only a major contribution to onomastics, but also to Provençal philology, earned for Hamlin the Prix Albert Dauzat of the Societé française d'onomastique. In 1998, he was made a Chevalier in the Ordre des arts et des lettres of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.
Although Hamlin was best known for his work on French placenames, and published in the Revue internationale d'onomastique, Nouvelle revue d'onomastique, Revue des langues romanes, Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie, Romance Notes and Names, he was also interested in the names of his adopted country, and frequently contributed articles, notes and reviews to Onomastica Canadiana.
When Hamlin was editor of Onomastica Canadiana, from 1988 to 1994, his scholarly eminence attracted first-rate contributions from all over the world. He was a painstaking editor but also one who knew how to suggest improvements without giving offense. Under his leadership the journal was not only meticulously edited, but invariably interesting.
After taking early retirement, Hamlin continued to work on onomastic studies out of a small room in the home he shared with his wife Muna and two sons in Richmond, British Columbia. There he finished a new edition of his magisterial volume of the department of l'Hérault, published in France in August 2000. At the time of his death six months before, he was working on a similar dictionary of placenames for the department of Aveyron. In memoria appeared in Names: A Journal of Onomastics 48.1 (March 2000) and Onomastica Canadiana 82.1 (June 2000).
Donald Max Lance (1931-2002)
Don Lance was born on July 10, 1931 in Gainesville, Texas and grew up in Mission, Texas near the Mexican border. He received his B.A. (1952) in English education, his M.A. (1962) in English and Spanish, both at Texas A&M, and his Ph.D. (1968) in English language and linguistics from the University of Texas-Austin. He joined the English Department at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1969 and was a professor of linguistics there until his retirement in 1994. He died on October 23, 2002 at his home in Columbia.
Growing up in Mission stimulated Lance’s interest in Spanish and recognition of English as a second language. Among his major interests were pronunciation, local dialects especially the pronunciation of Missouri —‘Missour-uh’ vs. ‘Missour-ee’ in and outside the state — and geographic names in general. He became such an expert on dialects that he could quickly identify a speaker’s geographic origin. Once he helped the Columbia police to determine the Pennsylvania city of an amnesiac. Among the various linguistics topics he studied were: Ozark English, Texas Spanish, the speech of Missouri Germans, bilingualism, and Black English.
The pronunciation of Missouri led Lance to study the original maps of the early French explorers, Indian languages, and pronunciation patterns of Americans. In 2001, he collaborated with a former student, Isam M. Kayed (then at Saudi Arabia’s Um-al-Qura University) to publish Personal Names in Palestine and Jordan, 1850-1996. His somewhat unique investigation of “Biblical Names in the Toponymy of Missouri” is to appear in the 2003 volume of These are the Names, to be published by the Bar-Ilan Press in Israel.
Lance contributed extensively to the Missouri Folklore Society, the Missouri Board on Geographic Names, the Missouri Academy of Science, the American Dialect Society, and the American Name Society. He served on the ANS Board of Managers from 1987 to 1989, and contributed substantially to the rewriting of the Society’s bylaws. He hosted the 2000 annual meeting of the Council of Geographic Names Authorities in St. Louis.
Colleague Aaron Kessler, in recalling Lance’s life story, observed that friends said that he “had a humble integrity that came through reverence for language ... and loved what connected [people and things]: words.” Longtime friend Roger Payne reflected on “his accomplishments in linguistics and dialectology, [and] in applied toponymy, [which] greatly benefited the nation and the people of Missouri....” He added that Lance was instrumental in coordinating the extensive compilation of Missouri’s names for the National Geographic Names Data Program.
Edwin D. Lawson
Breandán Seosamh Mac Aodha (1934–2001)
Breandán Mac Aodha was an Irish friend of the American Name Society, who contributed articles and reviews to Names: A Journal of Onomastics, and filed annual updates for the "Ehrensperger Report."
Mac Aodha was born on January 4, 1934 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 1956 he obtained an Honours B.A. in Geography at Queen’s University, followed by an M.A. in 1958. While much influenced by Sir Estyn Evans’s study of historical geography through customs and folklore, Mac Aodha supplemented this with a linguistic/literary approach. For him, the study of placenames was essential for the understanding of geography.
In 1958 he became Head of the Geography Department in St. Patrick’s Teacher Training College, Dublin. In 1967, at the age of 33, he was appointed Foundation Professor of Geography in University College, Galway. Over the next 32 years he built up a highly esteemed, bilingual department.
Mac Aodha was a member of the Irish Government’s Place-names Commission, which issued Guidelines for Street-names (1962); and of the Committee on Terminology which produced Geographical Vocabulary (1972) and Geography and Planning (1981). With Austin Currie he published Ireland: A Systematic and Regional Geography in 1968. The following year he completed his monumental Galway Gaeltacht Survey. He also was a founder of Studia Hibernica, and editor of Hereditas (1975), Topothesia (1982), and Street-names of Ireland (1998).
In 1989 Mac Aodha contributed two articles to Names: A Journal of Onomastics, one on minerals named after places and another on Irish street names. He also wrote complimentary reviews in Names about books on the placenames of Limerick and Down, and on the surnames of Ulster. Other examples of his place-name publications in English are : “Place-name Research in Ireland” (Anglo-Irish Studies, 1975); “Some Major Elements in Spanish Place-names” (Geography, 1979); “Some Penal Era Place-names in North-West Ireland” (Folklife, 1988); and “Execution and Irish Place-names” (Nomina, 1996).
A widely traveled lover of literature, he took a course in Arabic studies before visiting Egypt, and became fluent in Spanish and Portuguese during sabbaticals in the Iberian Peninsula. He wrote critical analyses of the life and work of Lorca, Becquer, and Machado, and translated some of their poems into Irish. He also edited Cnuasach 1 and Cnuasach 2, anthologies of poems and short stories by contemporary Irish authors.
Uaimheolaíocht, a collection of his own poetry, was published shortly before his death in Galway on July 21, 2001. His wife Ide predeceased him, and he is survived by four sons and three daughters.
Martin F. McHugh (Breándan Mac Aodha’s brother and a colleague at National University of Ireland, Galway)
Lewis Ankeny [Tam] McArthur (1883-1951)
Lewis A. McArthur was born in The Dalles, Oregon on April 27, 1883. The son of Lewis Linn and Harriet Nesmith McArthur, he had an early association with Oregon history through both grandfathers. William P. McArthur made the earliest government survey of the northern Pacific Coast in 1850. James W. Nesmith, Harriet’s father, came to Oregon in the emigration of 1843 and was long active on the political scene.
McArthur attended the Portland Academy and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1908. During his college years he worked for the Oregonian when Harvey Scott was editor, and, after graduation, he spent two years with the Oregon Electric Railway under Guy W. Talbot. In 1910 Talbot founded the Pacific Power & Light Co. and McArthur joined it then. He was its vice-president and general manager from 1923 to 1936, and continued with the company until 1946.
Governor Oswald West appointed McArthur to the Oregon Geographic Board in 1914. He became its secretary in 1916, a position he occupied until illness forced him to resign in 1949. Harvey Scott had once remarked that the subject of geographic names would make an interesting book. Between the two world wars McArthur produced the first edition of Oregon Geographic Names in 1928. His research led to reading the oldest journals of Northwest explorers, traders, trappers, naturalists and military men, and conversing with many pioneers who had been on the ground when some of Oregon's early history was made. He never passed up an opportunity to question anyone who might add to his knowledge of local history. Subsequently he brought out a second edition of Oregon Geographic Names in 1944, and finally a third in 1952. His first wife, Mary Lawrence Hewett, died in 1943 and in 1946 he married Nellie Pipes, the long-time librarian of the Oregon Historical Society.
In 1950 McArthur's health began to fail rapidly and he died in Portland on November 8, 1951. However, he had completed all the text for the third edition, which was put in final form by Nellie P. McArthur. In 1954, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved the name "Tam McArthur Rim" for a prominent high escarpment in the central Cascade Range. A man of diverse interests, McArthur was an advisor to government topographic mapping and surveying agencies. He was an avid stamp and book collector, and for many years was a director and president of the Oregon Historical Society.
Lewis L. McArthur
Edwin Wallace (“Mac”) McMullen (1915-2002)
Wallace McMullen (known as Mac among his close friends) was born in Quincy, Florida (northwest of Tallahassee) on December 8, 1915. He received a B.A. from the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1936. At Columbia University he earned his M.A. (1939) and his Ph.D. (1950). His doctoral dissertation was on the English topographical terminology in Florida from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth century. The University of Florida Press published his dissertation in 1953 with the title English Topographical Terms in Florida, 1563-1874. He taught at the University of Iowa and Lehigh University before joining the English Department of Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey in 1961. He was a Professor Emeritus when he died in Madison on July 27, 2002.
McMullen’s most important contribution to names study was the founding of The Names Institute in 1962 at FDU. His wife of 56 years, the former Marian Hoper, was his constant companion at the meetings. Since 1988, the Institute has been continued at Baruch College of The City University of New York by Wayne Finke. The 40th anniversary of the Institute was celebrated in 2002 by publishing its proceedings as A Garland of Names, and was dedicated to McMullen’s memory.
McMullen inspired the creation of other regional meetings: the Conference on Literary Onomastics at Brockport, New York; the Connecticut Onomastic Symposium at Willimantic, Connecticut; the North Central Name Society at Sugar Grove, Illinois, later at DeKalb; the South Central Names Institute at Commerce, Texas; the Blue Ridge Onomastic Symposium at Roanoke, Virginia, later at Greensboro, North Carolina; and the Northeast Names Institute at Saranac Lake, New York. All of them have unfortunately perished, although some had produced printed proceedings.
The Names Institute, however, has survived and flourished. In Names: A Journal of Onomastics 50: 4 (December 2002), I said that “I hope it will continue to honor his [McMullen’s] memory. Every single person who attended any of these regional meetings owes some debt to his foresight and inspiration.” It celebrates his enthusiasm for everything from character names in Gilbert & Sullivan to placenames in New Jersey, the names of pubs and people, names in their many varieties.
In 1980, Wallace selected a number of papers presented at the Institute and published them under the title of Pubs, Place-Names and Patronymics. A second set of presentations was published as Names New and Old in 1993. The first volume was republished by Mellen Press in 2001, and the second in 2003.
Leonard R. N. Ashley
Claude Henry Neuffer (1911-1984)
Claude Neuffer (correctly "mispronounced" knifer) was born in Abbeville, S. C., and earned a B.A. degree from Clemson and an M.A. degree from the University of South Carolina. After service in World War II, he returned to the University of South Carolina to teach in the English Department, continuing there as a professor until his retirement in 1977.
Neuffer was the founder and editor of Names in South Carolina (NISC), a collection of lore and scholarship, published annually from 1954 until 1983, about the placenames of South Carolina. With heavy support from Havilah Babcock, department chair and well-known South Carolina writer, Neuffer started NISC with a five-page mimeographed bulletin, published twice in 1954. From 1955 on, NISC came out once a year; by the time he decided to cease publication in 1983, NISC had become a fifty-page journal. Throughout these thirty years, his wife Irene LaBorde Neuffer was a co-editor and writer of many of the articles that appeared in NISC.
NISC was aimed at a popular audience, but contributions ranged from collections of name lore to serious scholarly articles, all focusing on South Carolina. With this journal, much history and knowledge about names and places have been preserved that otherwise might have been lost.
Claude and Irene Neuffer published two books based on the material collected for NISC: The Name Game: From Oyster Point to Keowee (1972) and Correct Mispronunciations of Some South Carolina Names (1983).
In 1978 the American Name Society honored Claude Neuffer by dedicating to him an issue of Names. The issue, edited by Raven I. McDavid and Raymond K. O'Cain, included a brief biographical sketch by Edward F. Nolan (Names 26.1 [Mar. 1978]: 1-2. A longer sketch of his life appeared as an In Memoriam by John Stanley Rich, Names 33.3 (Sept. 1985): 169-72. In 1992, the University of South Carolina created an endowment in Claude Henry Neuffer's honor. The original issues of NISC are hard to find, but many libraries, especially in the South, have either complete sets or the reprinted versions which appeared after Neuffer's death. These are now out of print.
Thomas J. Gasque
Thomas Matthews [Matt] Pearce (1902-1986)
One wonders whether T. M. [Matt] Pearce sensed which of his many scholarly contributions would most widely be remembered. The hindsight of 16 years since his death in 1986 allows us to answer: it was his work with geographic names.
Pearce, born in Kentucky in 1902, moved at age 10 with his family to Missoula, Montana. Following undergraduate work in English at the University of Montana, he received his M.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1925, his Ph.D. in 1930. He joined the University of New Mexico (UNM) English Department in 1927, chaired it from 1929 until 1951, and retired in 1964.
His academic activities included books and scholarly articles about his three specializations: Early English, Literature of the Southwest, and Folklore. He initiated the American Studies program at UNM, and helped organize the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association. He also wrote poetry and became acquainted with other New Mexico writers such as Mary Austin and D. H. Lawrence.
If it's true with such odd passions as toponymy, that we don't find them so much as they find us, then names found Pearce in 1931 when he and four other scholars founded the New Mexico Folklore Society. From 1936 to 1940 (in the depths of the Depression), Federal Writers Project researchers roamed New Mexico recording local history — including placenames. Pearce knew of their work and its value, so he agreed when in 1948 Folklore Society president Ina Sizer Cassidy appointed him editor of the literally thousands of card-file histories of New Mexico placenames. Three mimeographed Collections appeared from 1949 to1951.
In 1951 Pearce was among the scholars who organized the American Name Society. He contributed articles to Names and served as the society's president in 1960. His commitment to names was underscored in 1962 when UNM named him Annual Research Lecturer, the university's highest faculty honor; he chose, among all his possible lecture topics, "The lure of names."
Then in 1965, UNM Press published Place Names of New Mexico: a Geographical Dictionary. Cassidy, who had begun the project in 1948, continued to assist Pearce, as did Pearce's wife, Helen, a well-known southwestern artist. The book was the first widely available source of New Mexico names information. With it, Pearce's installation as New Mexico's placenames authority was complete. It was a role he honored, with toponymic correspondence and research, until late in his long life. A four-page In Memoriam is in Names 35:3 & 4, 1987.
When names chose T. M. Pearce, they chose well.
Louise Pound (1872-1958)
Enigmatic, energetic and eclectic best describe Louise Pound, a woman far ahead of her time in education, scholarship and athletics. Her crowning achievement in sports came in 1955, when she became the first woman elected to the Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame.
Pound was reared in a close, loving, and supportive Quaker family. Home schooled, she was reading by the age of three. She lived her entire life in Lincoln, Nebraska, and from the age of ten, in the same house. Never married, it would seem that she lived a celibate, albeit cheerful, complex, and unconventional life for a woman of that era.
In 1899 Pound went to the University of Heidelberg, Germany, where she earned a doctorate in linguistics in 1900. Her dissertation on the comparison of adjectives in English in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was published in 1901. Engaged as an instructor at the University of Nebraska in 1894, she became a full professor in 1912, and continued to teach until 1945.
In 1926, Pound established the premier journal of linguistic usage, American Speech. She contributed to it articles on American indefinite names, Podunk, and "gag" towns. The 1925 issue of the university’s Studies in Language, Literature, and Criticism is devoted to Nebraska placenames. She also reviewed several onomastic publications, including the first edition (1945) of George R. Stewart's now classic Names on the Land.
Pound joined the American Dialect Society in 1901 and was appointed to head its placename committee. She served as co-vice president of ADS from 1922-37 and as president from 1938-41. In 1951, she was present in Chicago at the organizing of the American Name Society and served on its Board of Managers from 1952 to 1956, regretfully refusing the nomination as president in 1956. In the early 1950s, Pound coordinated the names activities of the ADS with the ANS. Subsequently Edward Ehrensperger coordinated the annual summary of the ANS names research, and this activity has been continued as "The Ehrensperger Report." In 1955, at the age of 82, Pound was elected the sixty-fifth and first woman president of the Modern Language Association.
The majority of Louise Pound's personal and professional papers are housed at the Nebraska State Historical Society. A smaller collection resides at the Love Library Archives at the University of Nebraska. Her papers will hopefully entice scholars as there are currently no doctoral dissertations about Louise Pound, who is a model for scholars in all disciplines and especially for those who are toiling in onomastics.
Lynn C. Hattendorf Westney
Joseph Thomas [Tom] Pyles (1905-1980)
Thomas Pyles (who never used his first name professionally and was Tom to his friends) was born in Frederick, Maryland, on June 5, 1905, and remained essentially a Marylander, with a strong sense of place, for the rest of his life. He earned a B.A. and an M.A. at the University of Maryland and taught there while he continued his Ph.D. studies at Johns Hopkins under Kemp Malone.
In 1929, he married Becky Yort, and during the Great Depression, while he continued as a graduate student and instructor, they had a son, Thomas III. Awarded the Ph.D. in 1938, Tom taught English simultaneously at Maryland and Johns Hopkins. He was a friend of both Kemp Malone and H. L. Mencken, whose interest in American English and onomastics influenced Tom.
In 1944, the Pyleses moved to Oklahoma and in 1948 to the University of Florida, in Gainesville. He was Fulbright Professor at the University of Göttingen in 1956-57 and visiting Professor at New York University in the summer of 1965. In 1965, the Pyleses went from Florida to Northwestern University, Illinois, where Tom retired in 1971. They then returned to their house in Gainesville, which they had kept during their six years in Illinois, and remained there until Tom died nine years later.
Tom Pyles was Secretary (1952-56), Vice President (1958-59) and President (1960-61) of the American Dialect Society. He was on the Board of Managers (1960-63) of the American Name Society. His two major books were Words and Ways of American English (1952) and The Origins and Development of the English Language (1964, 1971, revised by John Algeo 1982, 1993). A collection of essays in his honor was published in a double issue (spring-summer 1977) of American Speech, the journal founded by Tom’s admired friend H. L. Mencken.
In 1979 the University Presses of Florida published a collection of his writings, Thomas Pyles: Selected Essays in English Usage, edited by Algeo. It contains, among other articles, four essays on onomastics, an abiding interest of Tom’s. They are "Dan Chaucer" (1942), "British Titles of Nobility and Honor in American English" (1953), "Onomastic Individualism in Oklahoma" (1947), and the cream of the crop, "Bible Belt Onomastics; or, Some Curiosities of Antipedobaptist Nomenclature" (1959), originally published in Names 7:84-100. Collectively, they show something of the range of his onomastic interests: Middle English, British-American contacts and conflicts, titles, regional patterns, given names, and the influence of social customs on naming.
Robert Lee Ramsay (1880-1953)
Robert Ramsay was born in Sumter, South Carolina, on December 14, 1880. He was a professor of English at the University of Missouri in Columbia from 1907 to 1952. With an A.B. from Fredericksburg College in Virginia in 1899 and a Ph.D. in English from Johns Hopkins University in 1905, he taught a variety of courses and published articles and books on literature, pedagogy, and placename research.
Ramsay developed a plan for a dictionary of Missouri placenames in the mid-1920s, and established a set of procedures for collecting, classifying and describing the names of Missouri's towns, counties, and natural features. In collaboration with Allen Walker Read and Esther Gladys Leech, he compiled the Introduction to a Survey of Missouri Place-Names, and it was published in 1934 as 9.1 of the University of Missouri Studies. Between 1928 and 1950 he directed seventeen M.A. theses and a preliminary doctoral study of placenames in the 114 Missouri counties, and an M.A. thesis on the pronunciation of Missouri placenames. He also published monographs on the names in Boone and Franklin Counties, the first as a publication of the American Dialect Society 18 (1952), and the second as a monograph of the University of Missouri Studies 26:3 (1954). In 1953, the University of Missouri published his Our Storehouse of Missouri Place Names, and it was republished in 1973.
Ramsay was not only a founding member of the American Name Society in 1951, he had worked for several years with George R. Stewart and others in creating the society and in setting out its goals and activities. He served on its first Board of Managers.
In his In Memoriam (Names, 2:1, March 1954), E. H. Criswell drew attention to Ramsay’s many articles in Missouri newspapers, resulting in "Thanks to him, people-at-large of Missouri [becoming] probably more conscious of the interest and importance of their names than those of any other state in the Union."
In 1945-47, Ramsay prepared in quadruplicate 4x6 card files, which are now located in the U.S. Geological Survey offices in Reston, Virginia, the Missouri State Archives in Jefferson City, the Western Historical Manuscripts Collection in Columbia, and the State Historical Society of Missouri in Columbia. His correspondence and manuscripts are also deposited in the Western Historical Manuscripts Collection in Columbia.
Ramsay died on December 14, 1953, while sitting on his front porch working with his card file.
Donald M. Lance
William Alexander Read (1869-1962)
William Read had a brilliant 28-year career as an English professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he devoted much of his professional activities to the study of placenames.
Read was born on November 17,1869 in Bristol, Virginia. He studied English, linguistics and philology at A.D. King College in Kingsport, Tennessee and at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He pursued graduate studies in Germany, first at the University of Göttingen, and then at the University of Heidelberg, where he earned a PhD in 1897.
After returning to the United States, he taught at the University of Arkansas until 1912, when he transferred to LSU. He retired in June 1940, when Studies for William A. Read was published by LSU. In 1962, the university published the Bibliography of William A. Read.
In 1912, Read produced a pamphlet titled Some Variant Pronunciations in the New South. His “Some Phases of American Pronunciation” was published in 1923 in The Journal of English and Germanic Philology.
Read’s “Indian Place Names in Louisiana” appeared in 1928 in the Louisiana Historical Quarterly. Louisiana Place Names of Indian Origin was produced in 1927. This was followed in 1934 by his Florida Placenames of Indian Origin and Seminole Personal Names. With co-author James B. McMillan, their Indian Place Names in Alabama was published in 1937. Read submitted “Indian Stream Names in Georgia” to the International Journal of American Linguistics in 1949.
In 1938, Read represented the United States at the First International Congress of Place Names and Anthropogeography in Paris.
Many at LSU who studied with Read looked upon him as a sort of ‘deity,’ implying great admiration for both Read and his publications. Former Read students would immediately sing his praises as soon as they learned of my interest in placenames. Some, when they learned that I was a librarian, gave me his publications with strict instructions for their preservation. Read’s students and second generation devotees never looked at Louisiana and Gulf/South placenames in exactly the same way again.
William Alexander Read died on July 31, 1962 in Miami, Florida.
Allen Walker Read (1906- 2002)
A scholar who climbed real mountains and mountains of knowledge. A playful prospector of the American tongue. A distinguished etymologist. A prominent onomastician. A generous supporter of the American Name Society (ANS).
Born on June 1, 1906 in Winnebago, Minnesota, Allen Walker Read was raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where his father taught at Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa). He graduated with a B.A. from the college in 1925, and took an M.A. from the University of Iowa the following year, his thesis was on the study of the state’s placenames. A Rhodes scholar, he received a B. Litt. from Oxford University in 1933, and D. Litt. in 1988. He taught at the University of Missouri and the University of Chicago before moving to Columbia University in 1945, where he taught until 1974. In 1953 he married Charlotte Schuchardt, then the director of the Institute of General Semantics in Brooklyn. They were constant companions at many meetings. Charlotte died in July, 2002, and he died four months later on October 16.
Read gained national notoriety in 1941 when he determined that the earliest published use of O.K. (for “oll korrect”) was in an 1839 Boston newspaper. It was reinforced when President Martin Van Buren, of Kinderhook, New York, sought a second term in 1840 as the Democratic O.K. (“Old Kinderhook”) candidate. Read was just as proud of the hundreds of other etymologies that he divined throughout the twentieth century. In 1938 he started work on the Dictionary of Briticisms, which was turned over to John Algeo in 1987 for completion.
One of the founders of ANS in 1952, Read served as its president in 1969. In an article in Names (18, 1970, 201-207), he proposed a placename survey of the United States, which subsequently became PLANSUS, and is now TIG (Toponymy Interest Group). During many years he was a mainstay on the programs of the many regional names institutes that had evolved. The September-December 1988 double issue of Names was dedicated to Read’s career. Kelsie Harder wrote a four-page praiseworthy review of that career.
Many of Read’s friends were awestruck when they listened to him deliver a presentation at a meeting, but were startled to observe that he was smoothly stitching together a selection of slips of paper. Leonard Ashley has drawn together 24 of those talks, and had them published as America—Naming the Country and its People (Edwin Mellen Press, 2002).
Jaroslav Bohdan [J.B., J.B.R.] Rudnyckyj (1910-1995)
J.B. Rudnyckyj was born on November 28, 1910 in Peremysl, Western Ukraine, and died in Montreal, Québec on October 19, 1995. He was considered a pillar in world onomastic development and the one scholar who fully developed Ukrainian onomastics.
He received his M.A. (1934) and Ph.D. (1937) from the University of Lviv, his dissertation being the geographical names of Boikovia. Shortly thereafter he accepted a position at the University of Berlin (1938-41), followed by Charles University in Prague (1943-45) and the Ukrainian Free University (1945-47). In 1949, he founded the Department of Slavic Studies at the University of Manitoba and was its chair until his retirement in 1977. Under his sponsorship the first Canadian theses on onomastic topics were supervised.
Over his lifetime Rudnyckyj produced a distinguished body of work in onomatology, linguistics, lexicology, bibliography, education and public service. His contribution of nearly 3,000 publications was presented in Repertorium Bibliographicum, 1933-1983, in its Addendum 1984-1995; J.B. Rudnyckyj and the Growth of Ukrainian Onomastics: An Onomastic Bibliography, 1935-1995, and in twelve issues of Rudnyckyiana (1985-1995). His major scholastic endeavor was The Etymological Dictionary of the Ukrainian Language (1962-82), which fully developed his Etymological Formula in Onomastics (1967). His adding and dating of surnames to the definitions of words gave historical foundation to the Ukrainian language and impacted its linguistic legitimacy. Among his important works in toponymy were Manitoba Mosaic of Place Names and Mosaic of Winnipeg Street Names.
In 1937, Rudnyckyj attended the First International Conference on Onomastic Sciences in Paris. In 1952, he was designated as permanent delegate of Canada and Ukraine to the ICOS in Louvain, Belgium. Rudnyckyj was a charter member of the American Name Society in 1951, and served as its president in 1959. He was the founder of the Canadian Institute of Onomastic Sciences (now the Canadian Society for the Study of Names) in London in 1967, and was its president until 1970. He was a Canadian delegate to the First United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names. Rudnyckyj founded the journal Onomastica in Winnipeg in 1951, and was its editor until 1973. Today it continues as Onomastica Canadiana, the biannual journal of the CSSN.
After retirement Rudnyckyj kept his whirlwind tempo of activity - traveling, lecturing, teaching and writing. Prior to his death, he visited his native Ukraine and offered a course in onomastics. He will forever be considered a giant in Ukrainian onomastics coupled with the development of onomastics as an academic science worldwide.
Stephen P. Holutiak-Hallick, Jr.
Richard Burl Sealock (1907-1984)
In 1939, librarian Richard Sealock discovered a small but intriguing file of placename citations in his office in the History, Travel, and Biography Department of the Enoch Pratt Free Public Library in Baltimore, Maryland. Seeing the value of an expanded and definitive bibliography of placename literature as an aid to scholars and researchers in the field, he invited his friend and colleague Pauline A. Seely to assist with what quickly became a large project—and lifelong commitment. In 1948, Sealock and Seely published the 331-page Bibliography of Place Name Literature: United States, Canada, Alaska and Newfoundland.
Sealock and Seely published a second edition, retitled Bibliography of Place-Name Literature: United Sates and Canada, in 1967. Following Seely’s death, Sealock was joined by his wife, Mary Margaret, and his daughter Margaret S. Powell in compiling a 435-page third edition, which was published in 1982. For three decades, he and his collaborators also published periodic supplements to the bibliography in Names.
Sealock was born in Lexington, Illinois, on June 15, 1907. He earned an A.B. in 1929 from Eureka College, a B.S. from the University of Illinois the following year, and an M.S. in Library Science from Columbia University in 1935. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Eureka in 1967. During his long career he served the Eureka College and University of Illinois libraries, Queens Borough branch of the New York Public Library, and in Baltimore. He was also assistant (1943-45) and then head (1945-50) librarian at the Gary (Indiana) Public Library. In 1950 he was appointed head librarian of the Kansas City, Missouri, public library system, where he remained until 1968. From 1968 to 1978, he worked in Lake Placid and Albany, New York, as Executive Director of the Forest Press, which published the Dewey Decimal Classification System. He then moved to Wooster, Ohio, where in retirement he served briefly as Interim Director of Andrews Library at The College of Wooster.
Sealock was active in national and state library organizations. Among other positions, he served as Treasurer and Second Vice-President of the American Library Association and as President of the Denver Bibliographical Center. He was also President of the Indiana and Missouri state library associations.
In 1983, Sealock was elected Third Vice-President of the American Name Society for the year 1984, in line to become President in 1987. He died in Wooster, Ohio, on November 3, 1984.
Margaret S. Powell
Edgar Ronald Seary (1908-1984)
Ronald Seary, a distinguished onomastics scholar in Newfoundland studies, was born in Sheffield, England in 1908. He graduated in 1929 with an honours degree in English Language and Literature, then earned an M.A. in 1930 and a Ph.D. in 1933, all from the University of Sheffield.
He lectured in Mannheim, Germany in 1933 and taught English at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa from 1935-51. He was professor and head of the Department of English in the College of Arts and Science, Baghdad, Iraq, 1951-53.
Seary was appointed professor in English at Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1953, and from 1954 to 1970 was head of the Department of English. After 1970 he was Henrietta Harvey Professor of English, a position he held until retirement in 1978, when he became Professor Emeritus. During those years he fostered work in Newfoundland regional language and literature, folklore, local history, and biography. He pursued extensive research in toponymy and family names, fields to which he brought rigorous and systematic treatment and a range of historical, linguistic and literary scholarship.
Professor Seary produced several publications on Newfoundland toponymy, the most important of which was Place Names of the Avalon Peninsula of the Island of Newfoundland (Memorial and Toronto, 1971). In this authoritative volume, Seary embraced "cartology," the study of names from old maps, an approach earlier used by G.F.R. Prowse, as part of a methodology to determine the earliest forms and the linguistic and cultural origins of contemporary Newfoundland toponyms.
Seary was named Memorial University's first research professor in the humanities in 1970, made a fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1968, and was awarded a D. Litt. from Memorial in 1973. Seary pursued the study of family names and produced the magisterial Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland in 1976. He was convinced that a comprehensive study of family names, including their linguistic and geographical origins, and evidence of both their early and contemporary distribution in Newfoundland, was a fundamental exercise in deepening knowledge of Newfoundland place names.
Six months after his death on May 18, 1984, the Newfoundland Geographical Names Board approved the name Searys Peak for a 240-metre hill near the south side of Trinity Bay, 80 km due west of St John’s.
Biographic references are included in the foreword of Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, the Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian Who's Who 1984, and the Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador Biography.
Elsdon Coles Smith (1903-1996)
Elsdon Smith was born in Virginia, Illinois on January 25, 1903. After obtaining a B.S. from the University of Illinois in 1925, a teacher’s certificate from the University of Chicago, and an LL. B from Harvard University Law School in 1930, he became a successful attorney in Chicago, specializing in estate and probate law.
Smith had an early passion for personal names, and long urged the founding of an organization to develop and promote the fundamental principles and practices of names and naming. He was the guiding light in the creation of the American Name Society in 1951, arranged its first meeting on December 29 of that year, wrote the Society’s constitution and bylaws, and served as its first president from 1951 to 1954 (and again in 1970). He was as its attorney from its founding and was the Review Editor of Names (the journal of the American Name Society) from 1953 to 1982.
Although not an academic himself (he had taught in the early 1930s at the Chicago Law School), he was able to persuade several scholars in onomastics, such as George Stewart, Erwin Gudde and Robert Ramsay, to actively support the Society, and encourage other scholars to participate in its meetings and write for its journal. However, some members of the American Dialect Society discouraged the founding of the ANS; Smith not only overcame their negative attitude, he also withstood the dissension fomented by some of its early members.
In 1943, Smith published the very popular Naming Your Baby, which was reprinted several times over the following years. His Personal Names: A Bibliography was brought out by the New York Public Library in 1952. In 1956, Harper & Row produced his The Dictionary of American Family Names, which contains 30,000 surnames, with derivations and meanings. It was followed in 1973 by the New Dictionary of American Family Names. The Story of Our Names was published by Harper & Brothers in 1959. In 1967 Smith’s Treasury of Name Lore was published by Harper & Row. American Surnames, probably the best review of surnames in the twentieth century, was published in 1969.
Smith met his wife, Clare Irvette Hutchins at Harvard University, and they were married in 1933. Their only daughter, Laurel Gleda Miller, died in a car accident in 1962.
The September 1976 issue of Names was published as a Festschrift in honor of Elsdon Smith. The March 1997 issue of Names was dedicated to his memory.
George Rippey Stewart (1895-1980)
George Stewart was born in Sewickley, Pennsylvania on May 31, 1895. When he was 12, his family moved to California. It is said that, when his mother insisted that he attend Princeton University, he traveled there by freight train; in any case, he remained an avid traveler throughout life. Stewart received his Ph.D. in English literature from Columbia University in 1922, and joined the English faculty at Berkeley in 1924. He was a prolific and highly successful writer of novels and of popular non-fiction, especially dealing with U.S. history and with the American West; many of his books remain in print.
Stewart's first major work in the field of onomastics was his Names on the Land, perhaps the most readable, yet scholarly book ever written about the process of placenaming in the US; it was published in 1945, revised in 1958 and 1967. This was followed by a toponymic dictionary, American Place-Names (1970), which remains unrivaled for reference and browsing. Names on the Globe, a worldwide toponymic survey, appeared in 1975, when Stewart was 80; and American Given Names appeared in 1979, when he was 84.
In 1951, Stewart was a founding member of the American Name Society, and he remained closely associated with the journal Names. In 1976, a special issue of the journal was dedicated to him, including an appreciation of his career by Madison Beeler, entitled "George R. Stewart, toponymist" (Names 24:77-85) - an essay which makes some interesting points about the field of onomastics in general. As Beeler points out, scholars in Great Britain and Europe have generally regarded name studies as a branch of linguistics, focusing particularly on etymology. By contrast, American onomatologists (to use Stewart's term) have given greater emphasis to "the motivation of the namer" - to "the human activity of naming." On the basis of this concern, Stewart put forward (first in Names 2:1-13, 1954) a tenfold classification of toponyms, based on the element of motivation: descriptive names, associative names etc. An elaborated version of this taxonomy was published in Names on the Globe in 1975, and has retained its value down to the present.
Beeler refers to Stewart as "the man who humanized onomastics"; and in the conclusion of his essay, he says: "Although Stewart ... carried on a kind of running fight against those whom he calls the 'scholars,' by which he means the linguists and the etymologists, there is ... an obvious need for both approaches, the broad concern for the human motivation as well as for the competence in linguistic detail. It is the merit of Stewart the toponymist that he has made the strongest case I know of for the importance of the first of these two."
Virgil J. Vogel (1918-1994)
Virgil Vogel was born in Keokuk County, Iowa on February 25, 1918. He spent most of his life in Chicago, where he received a B.E. degree in 1942 from Chicago State University, and an M.A. (1949) and Ph.D. (1966) from the University of Chicago. His dissertation, American Indian Medicine and its Influence on White Medicine and Pharmacology, was published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 1970; it has been reprinted several times since. Vogel taught in Chicago public schools and, after receiving his Ph.D., at Chicago State University until his retirement.
Vogel was a historian and ethnographer by training. He was at his best when he blended his two intellectual loves, Native American history and onomastics, as he did in Indian Place Names in Illinois (1963), Iowa Place Names of Indian Origin (1983), Indian Names in Michigan (1986), and Indian Names on Wisconsin's Map (1991). His extensive research revealed meticulous scholarship, which integrated an extraordinary number of disparate pieces of onomastic, historical and ethnographic information. Vogel was demonstrably an exceptionally careful scholar who was not given to speculation. If he had had more linguistic expertise, he could have been the near-perfect onomastician.
In later years, Vogel's declining health did not allow him to travel far, but he was a strong supporter of onomastics and regularly attended the annual meetings of the North Central Name Society and the American Name Society when it convened in Chicago. At one of these Vogel was honored by ANS for his contributions to the study of names. He was also honored with a Festschrift published by the North Central Names Institute in 1984.
Vogel's primary scholarly concern was with the impact of ethno-history on the American namescape, in particular the implications of the legacies of names left by the encounters and shifting relationships between Indians and Europeans. Because of this extensive onomastic net, Vogel considered names such as Flint River and Beaver Creek as "Indian names" when they were direct translations from a native language.
Vogel located and organized a large body of information on names, much of which remains to be interpreted. He collected more than 50 different spellings of Chicago. For many years Vogel worked on compiling a comprehensive dictionary of native place names in the United States. This manuscript, along with his other papers are now at the Newberry Library in Chicago. He died in Northbrook, Illinois on January 10, 1994.
Robert Cooper [Bob] West (1913-2001)
Bob West was born in Enid, Oklahoma, June 30, 1913 and died May 14, 2001 in Baton Rouge. His academic training in geography and anthropology was: A.B., 1935, University of California at Los Angeles; M.A., 1938, UCLA; Ph.D., 1946, University of California, Berkeley.
From 1941 to 1945, West served as Cartographer, Office of Strategic Services (Washington, D.C. and European Theater of Operations). He was a professor in the Department of Geography & Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, from 1948 until his retirement in 1980. Department Chair William Davidson recalled in the spring of 2001 that West was a “distinguished, dedicated and a private scholar [who] thought education and research to be a very important enterprise [and] the pursuit of knowledge was not a matter he took lightly.”
During World War II, West served in the Office of Strategic Services in North Africa, Italy, France and England. While in Algiers, he drafted maps for the invasion of southern France and Normandy. He also gathered maps left behind by retreating forces. Davidson stated that “West was an expert on many subjects including aboriginal agriculture, land use and mining in Latin America. Others were plant geography, ethnogeography, rural housing and the history of geography. He was fluent in Spanish, German, French and Portuguese.”
West had more than 90 publications, including 20 books and edited volumes. After retirement, he continued his research and publishing, and completed eight books, the last in 1989. West stressed fieldwork, including detailed field notes with exact locations, and items seen there. Berkeley-trained scholars researched language and by extension place names. West was interested in generic place names and surnames. In 1954, he published “The term ‘bayou’ in the United States: A study in the geography of place names” in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 44:63-74.
At the 25th International Geographical Congress, Paris, August 1984, West presented “French Family Names in Louisiana: A Case of Spatial Immobility.” It evolved into An Atlas of Louisiana Surnames of French and Spanish Origin, (Geoscience Publications, LSU, 1986). We met in Frankfurt and traveled across Germany and France to Paris for the IGU Congress; then through the Loire Valley to Loudon. We went to Aulnay, the village from whence those who came to be called ‘Acadians’ left for America, observing house types, cemeteries and photographing/recording observations in field books. Latin American Geography, Historical-Geographical Essays, 1941-1998, published by the Department of Geography & Anthropology, LSU, was dedicated to Bob West.
James White (1863-1928)
James White was born in Ingersoll, Ontario on February 3, 1863. He graduated from the Royal Military College in Kingston 20 years later, and joined the Geological Survey of Canada as a topographer the following year. After participating in surveys in Western Canada, Ontario, and Québec he was appointed Geographer and Chief Draughtsman of the GSC’s Topographical Survey Division in 1894. Five years later he was designated Geographer (later Chief Geographer) of the Department of the Interior, a position he held until 1909. He then served on the Commission of Conservation until 1921, when he became a technical advisor to the Minister of Justice, where, among other duties, he researched cartographic evidence respecting Canada’s case with the then Dominion of Newfoundland over their boundary dispute in Labrador.
White was appointed to the Geographic Board of Canada in 1898 as a representative of the Geological Survey, and served continuously on the board until his death on February 27, 1928, having been appointed its chair a year earlier.
In 1901 the Geological Survey published White’s Altitudes in the Dominion of Canada, which was republished in 1915. He also compiled the Dictionary of Altitudes in the Dominion of Canada in 1903, republished in 1916. Both books served as valuable references well into the later years of the twentieth century. In 1906 he produced the first edition of the Atlas of Canada, a very attractive volume of 83 plates of maps and tables covering a wide range of the country’s physical and cultural geography.
In 1905, White conceived the idea of writing each postmaster in Canada to enquire why their particular place had been given its name. Between then and 1909 he received some 3,000 replies, which provided quite interesting toponymic details, especially for recently established places in Western Canada.
In the Ninth Report of the Geographic Board (1910) White compiled the origins of selected names in the Thousand Islands, Quebec, and Northern Canada. Subsequently he put together similar lists on the origins of names of features in the Rocky Mountains and the islands of Georgian Bay.
In 1884, when he was only a 21-year-old assistant, his party chief, geologist George M. Dawson, named a 2755-metre mountain near the head of the Red Deer River in Alberta after him.
This site is a work in progress. It is not restricted to members of the American Name Society, but will include those who promoted the scientific study of names in North America any time in the past. If anyone believes a person has been ignored, it will only be because no one offered to write a biography about him or her. If you would like to write an essay on an individual who advanced the study of names and naming please send the proposed name to Alan Rayburn to avoid unnecessary duplication. Each essay is to be limited to 400 words, and should focus on "tombstone data" (when and where born and died); graduate and post graduate education; career highlights; major published works; involvement in names organizations; and sources, such as obituaries and memorials, where one may find more about each individual (if the sources can be found on the worldwide web, please include a URL for posting as well). Finally, if the writer knows how an individual was led to investigate names and how he or she was guided by mentors, such as Greek philosophers, German philologists, French onomasticians, or American dialectologists, such details will help budding onomasts find the scientific roots of name study. There is no deadline, as this site will be ongoing.
Submit proposals by email, and biographies by either direct email or attachment, to Mr. Rayburn. His direct mail address is 5 Solva Drive, Nepean ON (Canada) K2H 5R4.
(Proposals to write bios on living onomasticians have been submitted. For now, this site has been created to present a Who Was Who in Onomastics. A separate site for those still living will be created at a future date.)
For information on joining the American Name Society click here: