Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
placeholder article
placeholder article

I Changed My Last Name-Here’s Why

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Xavier chapter.

There’s a feeling of pride and righteousness that often comes with last names. It’s been passed down for generations, and has managed to live a long legacy. Faced with the threat of losing that personal identity can be like losing a piece of yourself in the process. So why change my last name? I didn’t erase it completely, I changed my last name, but for the better.

Genealogy can either be a fun side hobby, or a disastrous mess of aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins so far off the tree it makes you wonder how anyone would be able to keep track of this information in the old family Bible. Thankfully for us in the twenty first century, we have Ancestry and other internet sites to help record family members, pictures, stories, and milestones. Using an Ancestry United States edition account, I was able to start the search for my own family’s story. This pulled up gravesites, census forms, military documents, and immigration paperwork for family members I could never hope to know personally, and revealed a hidden mark to my name at the same time.

My great grandfather on my dad’s dad’s side was named Josephat Lauzé. He was born in Saint Édouard de Lotbinière, Québec, Canada, a small parish with a current population under 1,300 people, and only an hour drive from Québec City. In fact, a lot of my family came from this small parish. Many residents on the tree stem the Lotbinière municipality, which is only a short five hour drive from my current, and their future, hometown in Maine. Ultimately, Josephat will die in Lewiston, Maine at the age of 45 in 1930, shortly before his own father Cléophas, leaving behind a surprisingly small family of two sons, one being my grandfather, and a wife. Unbeknownst to him during his life, however, he would impact a decision in the life of his great granddaughter. Me.

Without a written report or an oral history to be passed down, I am left with only what I can gather on Ancestry, which leads me to believe Josephat lived an average life.


He was baptised in 1883:


Note his name “Josephat Lauzé” posted in the left margin, his birthday,, “The 13th of March 18, 1883” and the mention of his parents. “the same day, legitimate son of Cléephas Lauzé… Henriette Martel.”


Arrived in the United States in 1891:


Note his name is marked by the red dots. The Census goes as follows: Josephat, son, white, male, March, 1883, 17 (age at last birthday), single, Canada Fr. (birth), Canada Fr. (father birth), Canada Fr. (mother birth), 1891 (arrived), 9 (years currently in the States), carder cotton mill (occupation), 0 (months unemployed), 0 (attended school in months), yes (can read), yes (can write), yes (can speak english).


In 1906, he petitioned for citizenship in the United States via the naturalization process:


Note that in the formal writing of his last name there is still the accent above the e.


He registered for the draft in 1917 for World War I:



And in 1920 my great grandfather got married at the ripe old age of 36 to his wife Melina Labbe:



Needless to say, there wasn’t anything hiding in the woodwork to show that my relatives were royalty or highly publicised individuals in the local news. Either way, without their story, I wouldn’t have one either. So how does this affect my name? Following the roots of my great grandfather and how his naturalization paper was filled out, I decided to take the ‘é’ back. I added the accent to my name, and I won’t be getting rid of it anytime soon. As the last descendant of the Lauzé line in my direct branch, my last name will follow me to the grave. I don’t anticipate on having children, and if I ever get married, I plan to keep my name all the way. And if I’m going to be the last Lauzé, I’m going to die doing it right. Stubborn, french, and with my é.


Baptism: Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968

Naturalisation: National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Copies of Petitions and Records of Naturalization in New England Courts, 1939 – ca. 1942; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Num

1900 Census: Year: 1900; Census Place: Lewiston, Androscoggin, Maine; Roll: 587; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0024; FHL microfilm: 1240587

Draft Cards: Registration State: Maine; Registration County: Androscoggin; Roll: 1653898; Draft Board: 1

Marriage Certificate: Maine State Archives; Augusta, Maine, USA; 1908-1922 Vital Records; Roll #: 32

Amber Lauzé is a senior Entrepreneurial Studies and Management double major from Auburn, Maine. When not writing for HCXU, she can found at one of her many jobs, or hunting for her cat that likes to hide in blankets.