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Summer 2002
A Publication of the St. Louis Public Library

Vol. 2   No. 3


Help!! provides an opportunity for readers to ask for assistance with genealogical queries. We invite our readers to contribute solutions to questions featured in this section. See the Contact section for e-mail and postal addresses. Put GFH-HELP!! in the subject line.


Question: I am researching an early French-Canadian family and came across something called a "dit" name. What is it?

Answer: "Dit" translates roughly as "also known as." In some French families, some or all of the sons would select a dit name to distinguish themselves from other family members. These names were used either with the original surname or instead of the original surname. Often after a generation or two, the original surname was dropped and the dit name took its place. For example, in the name Pierre Enau dit Canada, Enau was the father’s surname, and as you trace back from Pierre, you would be looking for a man named Enau, even though Pierre and his children would often be found under the name Canada.

Question: My surname is Adams. My great-grandmother was from Massachusetts, and at family reunions when I was little, she would tell all the grandchildren that we were related to President Adams. How can I prove this?

Answer: There are many sources of family history for notable families such as the Adamses, as well as several books on the genealogy of all presidential families. However, before you dive into presidential genealogy head first, you need to follow basic genealogical rules. Start with yourself and work back generation by generation, checking all available records. If you do find a connection to a presidential family, you may want to try the following books: 

1. Brogan, Hugh & Charles Mosley. American Presidential Families. NY: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1993. HG 973.0992

2. Roberts, Gary Boyd. Ancestors of American Presidents. Santa Clarita, CA: in cooperation with the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Carl Boyer, 1995. HG 929.373

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