Luxembourgers are a problem for American census enumerators. Most have a French first name and a German last, which means that the enumerators have two different languages to misunderstand… Once in a while you’ll get lucky and find their names correctly transcribed on the census. But what do you do in the meantime?
- Look for the closest American first name. An enumerator may have recorded a name that was a literal translation of the French, such as Peter for Pierre. But you might also see, Jacques transcribed as Jake – even though the name actually means James.
- Think about how it sounds in English. My Luxembourger family’s last name ends with “gen.” Spoken quickly, it sounds like “on” or “chen” in English… Guess what names I find them under?
- Look for family ties. American born children usually had English names. As the names will appear in the same order on most enumerations, you’ll be able to find the family that way – as long as you know where they might live.