Friday, April 28, 2017

Darned Carcinogenic Names

We depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about the past. Yet sometimes records have anomalies. Some are amusing or humorous. Some are interesting or weird. Some are peculiar or suspicious. Some are infuriating, or downright laughable. Records say the darnedest things!

What parent names their child after some kind of cancer?!

Search results for first name Cancer, last name Brain
Search results for first name Cancer, last name Lung
Search results for first name Prostate, last name Cancer
Search results for first name cancer, last name De La
Search results for first name cancer, last name Del
Search results for first name cancer, last name Brain

  • Brain Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Skin Cancer
  • Cancer de la Laringe (larynx)
  • Cancer de la Matriz (uterus)
  • Cancer Primitivo del Higado (Primitive Cancer of the Liver)
  • Cancer del Riñon (kidney)

Yes, records say the darnedest things!


  1. Cancer is a surname. That might have became a first name.

  2. I did not look at all, but the ones I did look at were transcription errors. The first one, US Directories, has names on half the page. The bottom of the page is a mortality list of diseases people in that area died from the yr before. One of the yearbooks was an article about a fraternity raising money for prostrate cancer research. Are items being scanned rather than transcribed??

  3. If you click through, you can see that most of these are indexing errors or anomalies, not naming ones. They seem to link to pages in yearbooks and city directories that happen to mention important events at the time. There's no image for the obituary, but I suspect someone put a cause of death in the name field rather than a name. In the case of the Mexican records, they are either death records that appear to have been mistakenly extracted as marriage records or death records where the cause of death was extracted for the name. Frustrating no doubt for the person searching for that particular death record!

    1. I agree. I looked at several, and concluded that either the database didn't offer enough fields (like cause of death), or that field was ignored. I have to wonder what results I would get if I searched the U.S. Obituary index with only "cancer" as a keyword search term? (Does is only search the names fields?) One school yearbook result showed a high school display to discourage teens from smoking, which included a sculpture of an alleged (mythical) victim of lung cancer. I was very disappointed to find no images for the two entries for "disciplinary ______" lung cancer!

  4. I looked at the entries also--the lung cancer name is actually not a name in the yearbook. It is a description underneath a picture in the Florida State University yearbook of a statue which had a a cigarette into it's mouth. The entry says something like, "Lung Cancer is the least of this student's worries. The Tally-Ho photographer's humor had to be shown here. Other links were articles in yearbooks and directories that said things like, "Phi Kap raised money for prostate cancer research"...etc. The city directory listed diseases in a mortality schedule with how many people died of each disease that year.


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