Are You a Lucy Stoner?

Oh, ’cause Lucystoners don’t need boners,

Ain’t no man could ever own her…

(From the Indigo Girls’ song “Lucystoners”)

I’d never heard of Lucy Stone until I took my daughter to see Clark University in Worcester, Mass. I researched the city’s history and realized that, later in life, I’d become a Lucy Stoner.

Stone (1818-1893) was a pioneer in the women’s rights movement. After graduating from Oberlin College in 1847, she helped organize a national women’s rights convention in Worcester. When she married Henry Blackwell, a fellow crusader for women’s suffrage, both agreed that taking his name would tell the world that a woman’s name and family history are unimportant. She became the first recorded American woman to keep her name after marriage, speaking out for women’s rights at a time when women were discouraged and even prevented from public speaking.

Married women who keep their names are still sometimes called Lucy Stoners, but their numbers have decreased. Penn State sociologists recently compared data from two surveys (1990 and 2006) at a Midwestern university and found that 2006 students were three times more likely than those in 1990 to say that women who keep their surnames are less committed to marriage. While there are no national statistics, other studies suggest that at least 90 percent of American women take their husbands’ last names.

The realization that I’m a Lucy Stoner brought relief; I now had a response when friends questioned why I went back to my maiden name, Elizabeth Spaulding Titus, after 30 years of marriage. “We could understand if you’d gotten divorced,” they’d say, “but you didn’t. We know you as Elizabeth Clement, Mrs. Gregory Clement.”

“But I’m not,” I’d argue. Gregory is gone. Melanoma claimed him in 2007, the year of our 30th wedding anniversary. I’d been known by his name; now I had to recreate myself for a future that did not include a husband.

And what is the proper way to address a widow? Being called Mrs. Clement seemed dishonest. Let’s face it, I had lost my married status and become a single woman again.

It’s not that I hadn’t long been a feminist. After getting a master’s degree in English and teaching in a private school in Philadelphia, I woke up to the fact that women could, and were, doing more than teaching school. Not that I didn’t love teaching; it’s just that I felt forced into it by my father, whose four sisters, all Wellesley College graduates, were teachers. This was “the profession girls could go back to”–translation: after having babies.

But I was restless, and I had yet to hit the $10,000 mark in annual salary. So I decided to get an MBA at Wharton, at a time when women were just 20 percent of the class. When I told my mother that I was going to business school, she said, “Oh, good idea, Katie Gibbs– lots of girls did that in my day.”(Katharine Gibbs was then a kind of secretarial school for post-debutantes.)

This is what I was up against in terms of where I came from, so it’s no surprise that it never occurred to me to keep my name when I got married in 1977. And Gregory was a successful architect; I considered myself less important and hid behind my married status. But after he died, there was nowhere to hide any more.

We adopted our daughter Lili from China in 1994. She is now faced with having a mother with a different last name from hers, and I fear it’s been tough. She goes to high school in Connecticut, land of Suburbans and McMansions and non-working moms, some of whom admire Sarah Palin. But as the women’s rights that Lucy Stone fought for are under increasing attack, I’ll tell my daughter about her. Perhaps she’ll keep her own name when she marries.

Then we’ll both be Lucy Stoners.

Photo at top of Lucy Stone and her daughter Alice Stone Blackwell, c. 1857-1858, from Wikimedia Commons

Photo at bottom of Elizabeth Titus and her daughter Lili Clement, courtesy of Elizabeth Titus.

 

Comments

  1. Tracy Smith says:

    I kept my own name when I was married in 1980. I never considered doing anything else. I’d heard of Lucy Stone as a teenager. I also was lucky enough to read Una Stannard’s excellent book about the history of women’s names, Mrs Man. This book was published in 1977 and used copies still can be had on Amazon and elsewhere.

  2. marianne says:

    My late Grandfathers first and middle names were Clement Gregory, he went by Greg. This made me smile.

  3. Natalie says:

    I’m going to be a Lucy Stoner! I’m the last of my family that bears my last name. I’d like it to go on through my children.

  4. Great article! Sometimes I feel like this topic gets forgotten about.

    For anyone who is interested in becoming a Lucy Stoner on Facebook and joining our dialogue:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/2216878731/

  5. I’ve never really understood any of the arguments for taking a man’s last name. However you try to dress it up, it still comes out reeking of anti-feminism to me. No one would ever expect a man to be subsumed under a woman’s identity, yet the reverse is still considered acceptable. I agree with Caitlin Moran’s method of testing for sexism – asking the question “Do men have to do this too?” and then deducing that if they don’t, there’s probably some serious sexism afoot.

    The whole ‘I want my children to have the same name as me’ argument is no excuse. You can hyphenate, give the children your last name (you! remember you? the person who, like, carried them for 9 months and gave birth to them only to be expected give them your husband’s surname) or change both of your last names to something totally different (why doesn’t anyone ever suggest this one?). I also don’t buy it when people say “Oh, my surname is not really my name, it’s my dad’s, and I’m changing it when I marry because he’s a jackass”. If you really hated your surname that much you would’ve changed it long before, not just because marriage makes it convenient. And again, why not to change to something totally different – why does it have to be your husband’s surname?

    Power to Lucy Stoners everywhere, and props to Elizabeth Titus for this brave and heart-warming article – the act of abandoning her husband’s name will not have been easy for many reasons.

    • My husband and I both kept our surnames. We plan on taking letters from each of our names to make a new name if we ever have a child. I think that would be a nice way to do it.

    • Elizabeth Titus says:

      Thank you, Catherine, for your kind words, and yes, it wasn’t easy, at age 58 and after 30 years of marriage, to reclaim my name. I appreciate your support and wish you the best with your Ms. internship!
      Elizabeth

  6. I wrote about this on my blog a while ago. I kept my own name and am pleased I did! http://journeytotheknot.blogspot.com/2009/07/whats-in-name.html

  7. I kept my name when I got married in 2010. I’ll be 22 in May. Some of my male friends, upon learning that I kept my name, have made remarks along the lines of “I wouldn’t marry a girl who wouldn’t take my last name.” It’s pretty silly. If it’s that important to men, why isn’t it supposed to be important to women?

    I’ll also note that my husband, obviously, has no problem with this. Because he is a decent human being.

    If a woman wants to take a man’s name, that’s fine, and vice versa. But it’s MY name– my father’s name– and I should be the one to decide what to do with it.

  8. There was recently an article on Huffington Post that stated that women who kept their own names earned on average $50,000 a year more than women who changed their name.

  9. Robin V says:

    Great article! When I married in 1980, I had no idea about being a feminist or what being myself was all about! Being raised by a woman that conformed to all about the man in all 4 of her marriages!! Fortunately, I raised my daughter differently as I became more educated as I got older!! She got married & kept her name! She also gave her name to her daughter & son, with the father’s name as a middle name!! I am grateful for my education! The article is right, Why do we take his name?? Loose ourselves in their identity! Arrgghhh!!

    Thank you for sharing!!

  10. Roseviolet says:

    The way it *should* be – in an ideal world – is about identity, IMHO. The way it IS, sadly, seems to be about control and ownership.

    When I got married, I changed my name – not because my now ex wanted me to but specifically to distance myself from my birth family and taking my husband’s last name was the easiest way to do that. When I divorced the now ex (something I should have done at least a decade sooner), I changed the whole name. I didn’t want to go back to my family name and I’ve never liked the name my parents gave me for a first name.

    It’s amazing though how much control and sexism is involved in raising girls/women and in their schooling. I’ll never forget having won science awards in high school and then being told by relatives that the sole purpose of me going to college was to get my “Mrs” and *perhaps* a teaching credential for “just in case”. Ugh. As if all we can do is teach and marry. I’m so glad no one can see me typing except my dogs.

  11. This is an issue I’ve struggled with for years. I did take my husband’s last name. It took me nearly a year of marriage to make the decision. During that time my husband didn’t make a big deal about it at all. He knew me and my feminist ways well and didn’t expect me to take his name. But it seemed like everyone else had something to say about it and I caved. Though I use my maiden name as my middle name now, a compromise I’m relatively happy with, sometimes I do wish I were a Lucy Stoner.

  12. laura cardello says:

    I loved learning about Lucy Stoner – and finding out that I was one! For me, there was never a question of taking my husband’s name when I married in 1975, but at that moment in time, most of my friends also chose to keep their “maiden” name.

  13. Cathy Breen says:

    When I married in 1991, I never considered changing my last name. My husband knew this and accepted it without question. Our parents, however, were surprised and I think my mother-in-law was insulted. But everyone got over it. I have two teenage children who both have my husband’s last name and my last name as their middle name. This was an easy choice because my husband is the last living male in his family and I have four brothers who have lots of kids with our last name. In addition, I held locally elected office for six years in our fairly small town. While I was running (twice), serving, and taking vocal positions on local controversies, I was glad that my kids’ last name was different from mine. I think it protected them from some of the political drama. My kids have never questioned their names or their parents’ choices (on this issue, at least!). No regrets here. Good luck, Elizabeth, with this transition; I’m sorry that your husband passed away so young.

  14. Canaduck says:

    I hyphenated when I got married in ’03. In retrospect I’m a little sorry I didn’t just Lucy Stone it. I’m definitely in the minority either way; of all my female friends/family members who’ve gotten married in the last decade, maybe 2 of 10 kept their names. I guess that matches up pretty well with the 90% cited in this (great) blog post.

  15. Elizabeth Titus says:

    Do You Use Your Husband’s Name? by Percy Hammond
[Liberty Magazine, January 17, 1925; Vol. 1, No. 37, page 45]

    New complications are added daily to an existence already teaming with disorder.”All changes! Sex alone endures.”

    The newest movement which aims to provide us with a fresh complexity is that of the Lucy Stone League. You may not know exactly what the Lucy Stone League is. Perhaps another trivial sorority, you may thing, born of an instinct to be gregarious; or an inconsequential woman’s club proposing to amend something not worth amending. The land is full of similar coteries, you suspect, which has officers and which meet now and then without, however, increasing or diminishing our imperfections.

    But the Lucy Stone League is a band of proficient crusaders whose purpose is to preserve for the American woman the identity of her own name. Its members are sworn to deprive themselves, if they desire to do so, of their husband’s praenomina and patronymics, and to abolish, so far as they themselves are concerned, the word “Mrs.” from the glossary of married life. They do not insist upon the titles given them as they issued from the baptismal fonts, for many of them have rechristened themselves with captions more suitable.

    What they cry for is release from the ambiguity of the name of the man them happen to have married. They demand the freedom of a significant symbol all their own. For example, “Miss Sophie Treadwell” is an expression of the particular individuality of one of its most fervent protagonists. So why should Miss Treadwell suffer from so incompetent a description as is her married name, “Mrs. William O. McGeehan”? Miss Lucy Stone (Mrs. H. B. Blackwell), the posthumous godmother of the organization, wrote, while battling for women’s rights and the abolition of slavery, the slogan of the league, “My name is the symbol of my identity and must not be lost.”
    It is in that way that the Lucy Stone League augments the fluctuations which throw our composures out of gear. Some of its resulting confusions are indelicate and therefore may be merely hinted at. Many moral hotel clerks, however, are troubled in the assignment of rooms to the traveling Lucy Stoners and their husbands. Landlords and janitors, guarding the good behavior of their apartment houses, lose sleep in worrying about the “Misses” and “Misters” who occupy their decorous suites.
    Sensitive hostesses sometimes are dismayed by contretemps which arise from ignorance concerning the matrimonial status of their guests. The guests themselves undergo embarrassments. At an important literary dinner party not long ago, Mr. Channing Pollock, author of The Fool, sat hard by a lady who, he had been informed, was the wife of one of the editors of the New Republic, which, indeed, she was. He addressed her as “Mrs. Hackett” and was at once graciously reproved. “I am Miss Toksvig, not Mrs. Hackett,” said she.
    “But,” Mr. Pollock blushingly ventured, “I thought you were married —–” Thereupon a long and futile discussion ensued, Miss Toksvig, of course, prevailing. Whereas Miss Toksvig and Mr. Pollock, both of them brilliant conversationalists, might have talked volubly about The Fool, Chaliapin, lawn tennis, or the Ruhr, they wasted their evening in a debate on the principles of the Lucy Stone league.
    I know an average man of the world whose morals, so far as the wives of other men are concerned, are punctilious. He would rather not flirt at all than flirt with a lady who has a husband. But at a tea party the other day he found himself in romantic propinquity to a comely miss whose flaunting eyes provoked him to become sentimental. After he had plied her innocently with cocktails and tender phrases, hinting an affection for her, he discovered her to be the wife of a favorite novelist, who was using her own name. Nonplussed and humiliated, he bowed himself out, another victim of Lucy Stone.
    These predicaments may seem trifling to those who have not meditated profoundly upon the topic. They are but the spindrift of a situation capable of more harrowing eventualities. It is recorded that a loyal Lucy Stoner, facing the tortures of childbirth, waited for hours in a taxicab in front of a New York hospital while her frantic husband tried to convince the surgeons that she was a “Miss” in title only. The surgeons finally admitted her, but they were considerably annoyed.
    At present Secretary of State Hughes and his department are involved in one of the onerous problems propounded by the Lucy Stone League.
    The president of the organization has been ambitious for years to visit foreign parts. In order to do so, it seems, she must have a passport. The State Department, eager to facilitate the lady’s egress, will however, give her leave of absence only in the name of her helpmate, prefixed by the odious “Mrs.”
    She declines the designation as humiliating and contemptible and insists that she will travel under her own name or not at all. Here, indeed, are confusing circumstances. The Department of State is distressed by the baffling enigma, and in worrying about it may neglect some other equally significant nicety of diplomacy.
    The lady meantime, though yearning for distant shores, remains, with all a martyr’s obduracy, at home, and the movement thus is more than an anti-man gesture. It doesn’t desire a further humiliation of the male. It simply takes the primitive privilege of the totem pole and other distant periods wherein a woman was permitted, though married, to retain her own emblem. Such female celebrities as Victoria and Cleopatra lived their own lives without being called “Mrs.,” and so did Catherine de Medici, George Eliot, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Pocahontas.
    The members of the Lucy Stone bund do not object to their father’s names; only to that of their husbands. Miss Fola La Follette, for instance, prefers that prominent insigne to the one bestowed upon her at the marriage altar, “Mrs. George Middleton.” It means more.
    How handicapped would Miss Barrymore by if she were billed as “Mrs. Russell Cold,” and would there be as much artistic lure in “Mrs. J. Hartley Manners” as there is in the magic of “Miss Laurette Taylor”? Miss Fannie Hurst could not advantageously abandon her banner for that of her husband. Who knows and who cares what the names are of those who are married to Nora Bayes, Marjorie Rambeau, Sophie Tucker, or Julia Sanderson? Even the most hostile anti-Lucy Stoner cannot blame Miss Fannie Brice for using her own pennon in preference to that of her equally famous husband, Mr. Arnstein.
    The principal martyr to the Lucy Stone cause is Miss Ruth Hale, its discoverer and president. Miss Hale is the wife of an eminent New York critic and feuilletonist, and she might share more fully the joys of his prestige were she willing to sacrifice her own identity. But she will not. Rather than be vicariously glorified by another’s headline, Miss Hale elects to lurk in the shadows of an independent obscurity. Here, indeed, is suffering for a mission. Galli-Curci, Miss Elsie Ferguson, and the Dolly Sisters may, with no discomfort, ignore their marriage escutcheons; but Miss Hale, like the lady in the fable, pays and pays–a martyr in name and in fact.
    “How dare a man,” said a member of the league to me, “how dare a man inflict the woman he has promised to love and cherish with such an epithet as ‘Percy’? If you have regarded yourself from your first conscious moment as Anna Maria Brown you can’t suddenly, with any happiness, regard yourself as Mrs. Percy Jones.”
    Nomenclature, the Lucy Stoners contend, is an art, a right, a science, and a business. they insist that if Miss Anna Maria Brown feels she is better described by that appellation than by the one bestowed casually upon her at the altar, she is entitled to retain it. They take the matter very seriously. Almost as much so, it seems as do their perplexed, embarrassed, and inconvenienced husbands and children. One can picture the distress of a little girl who, at kindergarten, is asked who her mother is, and who wonders what to say — Miss Anna Maria Brown or Mrs. Percy Jones.

    • Canaduck says:

      Thank you for posting this!

      I note that they are all stuck with Miss or Mrs., as Ms. hadn’t been popularized yet. (I guess it actually had been around for centuries, but wasn’t really used.)

  16. I enjoyed this post right up until your sweeping and unflattering generalization about Katherine Gibbs. My grandparents were willing to send my mother, 83, to college, but she realized that they couldn’t afford it and chose to go to Katie Gibbs instead and get a job to help out the family. “Post-debutante” diminishes the hard work and practicality exhibited by her and thousands of other women like her.

    • Elizabeth Titus says:

      I apologize and regret offending you. Thank you for letting me know; I will be more sensitive to this kind of unthinking generalization in the future.

  17. For more information on the founding of Katherine Gibbs, see: http://www.gibbsboston.edu/press_12_18_07.asp

  18. AugustaS says:

    This is a great post! I am a Lucy Stoner, too and did not realize who she was. It was very brave of her to take such a stand in that era.

  19. Merry Harris says:

    When I married a wonderful man in 1981 at age 30, I was already established in my home community as a recognized professional and a feminist, or in the eyes of some good old males, a vocal pain in the ass. My name, granted patrilineal, was important to me. My husband, raised in a traditional Italian family, had graduated from Boston U Law & had no illusions about women taking on any encumbrances from their spouses. Worried about the impression I’d make on his family, I hyphenated. It lasted for a couple of years until I ran across an old social security card for Merry Anne Harris and changed everything back. It’s only my older brothers who address me as Mrs. Perticone. Keep it.

  20. My husband and I chose a completely new name upon marriage: http://bit.ly/y2bZUR.

  21. Natasha Beck says:

    I decided ca.1973 if I ever married,I wouldn’t change my surname.At a city-wide International Women’s Day Steering Committee,I met the man I later lived with in a committed partnership and formally married in 1990. As a longtime feminist activist and sometimes women’s studies instructor,he respected my decisions. Our wedding vows included excerpts from activist/writer Marge Piercy’s poem about feminist marriage,we had a female judge,and used a caterer named Corno and Daughters. My family had no problem with my decision,and if his more traditional one did,they never mentioned it. When we adopted our U.S.born Latina/Caucasian daughter in the mid-90s,her new surname was a hypenated combo of our surnames. Sadly,he died in 2003. My daughter changed both her first name and her surname at 18 to reflect her Latina heritage,and while it surprised me,I respect her choice.

    All but one of my female cousins have retained their birth surnames;the remaining one uses both her birth and her husband’s names,non-hyphenated.

    I know many feminists who haven’t changed their names,and I respect their decisions; it takes extra courage to be part of the 10% mentioned in the article.

  22. Alina Bergelson says:

    I thought this was a very interesting article cause I was never presented with a bad side to taking your husbands name. When we get married, we may think of the possibility of divorce but never the fact of soon becoming a widow. This is very scary for most people so they don’t even let that thought surface. After reading this article, I see it is very important to consider if you really should take your husbands last name. Not just for the fact of women empowerment, of course that is just as important, but deciding to show that commitment through your name and then getting it violently taken away. Mourning over your dead husband is probably hard enough and then having to see his last name as yours, all the time must be tremendously difficult. And what about the children? Being a “lucystoner” should be given a lot more consideration because not only are you degrading your family history and name, erasing it and subduing to the significant male figure in your life, but if that gets taken away, you feel at a loss for identity.

  23. Nicole D says:

    I am indeed a Lucy Stoner. Although I am not married, I decided when I do get married, I will keep my own last name. This is a very interesting topic to me because I decided this few years ago, and at the time I had no idea who Lucy Stone was, so when I first learned about her in my woman studies class, I realized I am like her. My reason for wanting to keep my last name is to keep my family history with me. With the passing of my father, I decided that keeping our last name will keep him with me always. My mother is also a widow; however, one big difference with Elizabeth Titus is that my mother kept my father’s last name even after is passing. It has been nine years and she still has not gone back to her maiden name, and I do not think she should. This subject also makes me think of my sister who married several years ago and has yet to change her last name. Whether she will or not and why she has decided not to take her husband’s last name is not clear to me; however, I do believe it is related to our father. I do not think it is necessary for women to take their husband’s last name because this basically gives into the patriarchal control we are surrounded by; however, if a woman does decide to change her last name, that is completely fine but she should keep it even if the husband passes.

  24. Pauline T says:

    I found this article to be very interesting and informative. I never believed there was a bad side to taking your husband’s last name but this article has shown that being empowered comes from embracing who you are. Part of who we are comes from our name. After reading this article, I see the importance of keeping my own name. It is possible for a couple to be completely committed to one another without having the same last name. It is difficult for your partner to pass, and it does not help that you will carry his name. Our names come with a past, with a history and a reputation. It must be difficult to give it away and obtain someone else’s.

  25. Mary Marrone says:

    I can understand why women would want to be a Lucy Stoner, so they can carry out their family’s legacy. A person’s last name is part of their identity, and if it is taken away so will part of their being. I am not yet married and have not yet thought about this issue, so I maybe playing devil’s advocate. I know that in most cultures the men take on the last name to carry the family’s legacy. This makes me wonder if partents secretly wish for boys; what’s wrong with girls? This makes me think of an advertisement for the film the Dictator. A girl was born and Sacha Baron Cohen (as the Dictator) states: “Bad news it’s a girl, where’s the trash can?” This statement just shows how devalued women and femininity are within today’s society.

  26. Elyzabeth A says:

    Very attention-grabbing! I had never heard of Lucy Stoner, until right now. Perhaps one day I will get marry and if I do I will sure want to keep my last name. Funny because the only reason that I had thought about keeping my last name is because I like it. May sound silly, but I do. However, I had never thought about keeping my last name as a justification to still be me, to not lose my identity. Also, because there is history in my last name and my last names history should not be vanish when taking my husband’s last name. Not that I may hate my husband’s last name. If I were to be call a Lucy Stoner when I get marry, I won’t mind no more since I know the meaning of it. But if I were to be call a Lucy Stoner in the future and me not knowing what Lucy Stoner is I would indeed be wrathful because I didn’t have enough knowledge of the significance.

  27. I have never think of it and I don’t care I keep my last name or not. However my mother kept her last neme and my father changed his last name. I don’t know why and i never have question of it. I think my family is diffrent, we lived in my mother’s hometown with her parents and she never quit her work while she pregnant. I use to see them to be happy so I really do not mind my last name.

  28. Ashley-Marie M. says:

    i changed my last name when i got married the first time because it seemed like the right thing to do. when we got divorced i didnt change it back but decided to keep it because i was to lazy to change it with everyone and also wanted to be reminded how far i had come in two years. when i got married the second time i wsa hesisitate to change my name so decided to keep my ex husbands last name.my husband was fine with it, it was my family that had a huge issue with it. for our second anniversy i legally hyphenated my name to include my currents husbands last name. i usually use my first married name because my full name is extrememly long. changing your name when you get married sometimes means that you lose a sense of your identity but that doesnt always have to be the case.

  29. Jennifer H. says:

    I personally plan on becoming a Lucy stoner . I am not married but when I do get the chance to get married I have already decides that I want to keep my last name . I don’t think it’s right for all women to feel obligated to change their last names to their husbands. I see it as a sense of ownership from the male. There should be more Lucy stoners in the world ! I want to be able to keep my last name without even being questioned about it .

  30. Rashidah I says:

    Lucy Stone keeping her own last name and not taking her husband’s was a great and loud statement of how women are not considered equal to men. This small act caused such an uproar that Lucy made history books. It is perfectly normal for a women to want to keep her last name after marriage. It may not even be for statement reasons, a women may just want to keep her last name because it is HER OWN NAME. I would like to keep my last name after marriage and I came to this decision far before reading this article or taking a women’s studies class. My last name is a part of me that I cherish and want to keep forever. This should not be looked down upon and a women should not be ostracized for wanting to keep her name and not change it to her husband’s.

  31. It is nice to know that women now have the choice to either change their last names or to keep their own. Lucy Stone set a good example that made history. Even though most women who get married will still change their last names there are many other women who decide to keep their last names. My mother also decided to keep her own name and she passed down her last name to me. This article is very interesting because it shows women that you dont necessarily have to change you last name. you have a choice. This is just one step closer to women being equal to men.

  32. Alexander K (Wom. 10 Scholars) says:

    “Lucy Stoner” sounds like a really cool name to classify a woman who wants to be independent and strong. Although I do believe that the wife should take the husband’s last name because that will create a strong bond between the two individuals. But I do respect the fact that the woman may not want to feel “owned” or may have a sense of a lost identity. I found it interesting however that regardless of how male dominated the world was in the 19th century, a woman by the name of Lucy Stoner was able to have the courage to follow her gut feeling stand up to anyone who questioned her on her stubbornness. With the statistics given, I’m not sure how many “Lucy Stoners” there will be in the future, but I do know that the name will never die.

  33. Jorge M (Scholars) says:

    When i started to read this article, i thought to myself, “this sounds very familiar.” And it is, my sister has kept her name after she was married. I never knew it was uncommon. To my view, i thought most women would keep their last name. As my sister was raised up, independent, educated, and hard working family, the tradition was broken with her. She decided that she wanted to keep her last name not because she wanted to show the world how independent she was, she did because it was too much paper work. My sister is truly a “Lucy stone” of the modern time. I also believe that couple should decide what best for them. Not all couple should follow “Lucy Stone” idea, and not all couples should take the last name of the male. I believe lucy stone did make a name for herself. She didn’t wanted to change her name, and she was the stepping stone towards women keeping their name.

  34. I think there are plenty of important feminist issues to take a stand on, but this doesn’t seem to be that significant to me. I would take my husbands, and hyphenate. There seems to be many practical benefits such as managing finances in the partnership. For example, if you have accounts and insurance policies together, having the same last name makes it easier to take care of business with out having to explain that you decided to keep your name. Through taking this women’s studies class I found one of the most inspiring and compelling ideas I learned was to be loving. That through being loving you will find happiness. So with that in mind, I suggest if one is debating weather to take her husbands name or not, to ask yourself what is the most loving thing for myself and for the relationship. If one is in a loving and respectful relationship, taking your husbands name could be a sign of love and union.

  35. CourtyanaF says:

    Lucy Stone made a tremendous impact on the feminist culture. Deciding to keep your name is very powerful. Many of the women in my mothers family have kept there names but also added there husbands name. I believe my last name, Franklin, is a powerful name and continuing it will give me a sense of power over who i am. I will definitely be considered a “Lucy Stoner” in the future and will encourage others including my children to do the same.

  36. I agree that women back then who kept their last names were courageous doing that, because back then women weren’t looked as a partner to their husband. Women were property, hence the phrase “giving my daughter away” which literally meant at a wedding that the daughter doesn’t belong to the father anymore, now she belongs to the husband. If I was a woman back then, I think I would have done the same and kept my last name. But now that times have changed, I really would like to take on my husbands last name. Today isn’t a time period where women are properties to men, although some are still treated as one. But if I was in a stable, healthy, loving, strong, and respectful relationship and found my perfect someone I think I would want to take on his last name, showing that I love him. I have a unique last name and there are no boys in my family, so there is going to be no one to carry on the name of “Son” so instead of losing my name and not wanting my husbands last name maybe I can do both. Aren’t there people nowadays who have two last names like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Courtney Cox-Arquette. Maybe I can be Mita Son- _______.

  37. I thought this article was pretty intense. I understand why she would change her last name when her husband passed away, it’s a good way to get over it. never really understood in the first place why you took the man’s last name when you got married. I wouldn’t really care if my future wife kept my last name or not. If it gives a women her independence and stops fights form happening then so be it. It’s crazy how that one girl made 10% of married women keep their own last name though.

  38. This article made me think a lot, At first I was thinking I wouldn’t care if my wife didn’t have my last name, but now that I think about it I would. Sharing a last name at marriage is part of the bond. I understand why she didn’t keep her last name after her husband passed away. It was something she needed to get over it. You shouldn’t be judged for not having the same last name, but I would prefer it now that I think about it.

  39. To me the practice of a woman taking on her husband’s last name is incredibly outdated, and personally brings to mind images of dowries and princesses locked in towers. I have every intention of keeping my last name if or when I marry. My current boyfriend was shocked to hear and took it as an insult against his last name and his family. It has nothing to do with names and more to do with the fact that I am not a piece of property being handed off from one family to another. A shared surname is not what creates the bond of marriage it is mutual respect between two people, and if my potential partner can’t respect me wanting to hold on to the name I’ve had my whole life then that’s not a marriage I want to be a part of.

  40. I wasn’t a Lucy Stoner but now I kind of am.

    To use Lucy Stone’s name as an example. I went from Lucy Stone to Lucy Blackwell when I married. Now nearly 12 years later I’ve changed by deed poll to Lucy Blackwell Stone and I’m now insisting on Ms.

    For me it’s a feminist act. I don’t wish to be categorized by sexual status (virgin/married/widowed). I don’t want my old identity to be erased.

  41. I truly enjoyed your article, I believe that marriage shouldn’t be about becoming Mrs. Anthony Smith, but a reinforced mutual respect. As I was reading your article my 11 year old daughter came into my office, and started reading the article with me, and then she said “mom, I’m going to be a Lucy Stoner when I marry, because I always want to have your last name” It made me laugh, and at the same time I thought to myself ; good she will not be classified into a “social status nor will she be owned like back in the days when women were practically owned by men”. She will break the status quo and will be Vanessa M. :)

  42. This article was not new news for me. Thanks to my Women Studies class at my local college we were educated on her, and other feminist. I think that its a beautiful thing that she did not give in to the norms of the society at the time. Personally speaking, i wouldn’t mind if my wife chose not to take my last name. She will have the same exact rights as me and if thats her decision i would without a doubt support her. One very cool thing that i learned from this article is the statistics, i was not aware of the fact that Lucy Stole gave 10% of married women the courage to keep their own last name.

  43. In my Introduction to Women’s Studies class, I learned about Lucy Stone and her accomplishment of being the first recorded American women to keep her own last name as well as the term “Lucy Stoners” to those that keep their own last name and not their husbands. I truly find it amazing that Lucy Stone was strong enough to form her own path and go out of the way of tradition and keep her own last name. One’s last name has so much family history behind and it is a part of one’s identity. I agree with her idea behind it and look up to her for such a courageous thing to do at the time since it was so unheard of. But I am happy to see that it is becoming more common in today’s society. My own mother kept her last name after she got married. She gets all her bills to her last name and not my father’s. The only thing that comes for her with my father’s last name is invitations. I look up to my mom for keeping her own last name and she has set a great example for me to keep my own last name when I get married in the future. Knowing the significance and what being a “Lucy Stoner” stands for, I can see myself keeping my own last name and embracing it.

  44. Daniella S. says:

    Will I be a Lucy Stoner? Reading this article and learning about Lucy Stone and how she became the first recorded American woman to keep her name after marriage, I grew a better understanding of why my mother decided to keep her maiden name as well. Many people feel as if they are disrespecting their loved ones if they do not change their last name when they get married. The meaning of a woman carrying her maiden name when getting married signifies someone who is willing to go against the norm and what society expects of them. Growing up, I always wondered why my mom hadn’t changed her last name. I didn’t understand why we had different last names. As I grew older, I finally got the chance to ask her why she hadn’t changed her last name and she told me that before she got married her father passed away so she wanted to keep a part of him by keeping his last name. I can see myself keeping my last name because of the example my mother set for me and because of the strong women that I look up to that had done it before me.

  45. I have never actually heard the term Lucy Stoner before, so I was interested from the start to read what your blog post was about. I am not a Lucy Stoner, having taken my husband’s last name when we married a few years ago, and it never much crossed my mind not to. Maybe you can call it naïve because of my age, (mid 20’s when I married), but it felt traditional to do so, and I liked that tradition. I never felt like I lost a sense of who I was just because my last name changed, and I am just as much a member and representative of my maiden name and family as I was before. My family didn’t lose me to another family just because I changed my name. That being said, I can see your point and understand the desire to keep your name after marriage. There is absolutely no need to do it unless you want to!
    I would like to comment on one thing. I will begin by saying I am not one for politics and don’t really care to engage with people over sides. All people have a right to feel however they want. But I found it odd that you seemingly talked negatively about “non-working moms who may or may not admire Sarah Palin.” Again, I’m not one for politics nor do I have children, but what is wrong with admiring her? Regardless of her politics, she is a woman who made a decision to educate herself, have career aspirations, have a family, and then represented her community and home state by becoming Governor of Alaska. She broke through a male dominated barrier of political office and became one of less than (I believe) 35-40 women to ever do so. Isn’t that something to praise instead of demean? Maybe I misinterpreted your comment, and if I did I apologize. The comment just didn’t seem to align with your overall message of empowering women and to maintain their identity and independence.
    But I generally enjoyed reading your blog and found it very interesting. Thanks! :)

  46. Jennifer. S says:

    I had really mixed feeling reading this article, I stand for women’s right and would like to see every form of violence against women eradicated, I however initially did not see how changing a persons last name to that of their husbands had anything to do with violence against women in and of itself. In fact I like the idea of both parties having the same last name as a symbol of the unity of a new family and life together. However after more careful consideration and reflection I see that perhaps this seemingly innocuous act of changing ones last name is actually although not an act of aggression in it self but is a symptom sexist gender roles created in America. It goes back to the time when women’s names were not only subsumed into their husbands names but also their identities- back when women couldn’t own property, bank accounts or even earn a paycheck. It goes back to the rule of thumb when men were told they could beat their wives as long as the object was no bigger than the width of a thumb. Taking these fact into account I’d have to agree with the former posts here, and say that I think a much less historically loaded with violence way of showing unity with your spouse could be, behaving in unity with your spouse, and that this doesn’t require a name change- women giving up their surnames further promotes sexist gender roles in our country and sends the message that women are property.

  47. Small correction. The song “Lucystoners” is by Amy Ray as a solo act…though she is one of the Idigo Girls.

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