Certificate Of Change Of Name
I recently changed my last name from Danley back to my maiden name Uhler. When Brent and I got married in 1995 I changed my last name to his family name without considering the significance or history of the tradition. Brent initially suggested that I go back to Uhler. I was resistant at first because I liked the name Danley. No one ever pronounced Uhler correctly (properly pronounced “yoo-ler”). I also liked the convenience of our family members all having the same last name. These concerns quickly became trivial, however, when I began examining the tradition. I now believe this custom is outmoded and misogynistic. My name represents my individuality, identity, and autonomy.
Under Christian doctrine the Bible made the husband the “head” of his wife—his wife’s superior—as Christ was head of the church. The common laws turned the married pair legally into one person—the husband. The husband was enlarged, so to speak, by marriage, while the wife’s giving up her own name and being called by his symbolized her relinquishing her identity. This legal doctrine of marital unity was called coverture, which meant the woman turned all her legal rights and obligations over to her husband.
–Nancy F. Cott, Harvard professor
Many women continue to take the last name of their husband when they decide to marry. Most of us are given a surname to connect to our progenitors. Under this conventional Western naming convention we are linked to our fathers; however we have no connection by name to our mothers. Many couples are now combining their last names. Read the rest of this entry »