marriage and name-changing

Hannah Dvorak-Carbone hdvorak at
Thu Sep 4 22:04:23 EST 1997

Well, since no "hyphenated person" has chipped in yet, I guess 
I'll put in my two cents' worth.  Now, I've only been married 
less than four months now, and am still in the process of 
changing everything over to my new name, so I don't have a lot 
of experience with it yet.  

Before I got married, I agonized for a long time over what to 
do with my name after I was married.  To be honest, I wasn't 
really thrilled with any of the options.  Here are some of the 
factors that I considered in my decision.  

I never really considered just not changing my name at all, 
because I like the idea of a husband and wife (and family, when 
we have kids) sharing a name (or at least part of one).  My 
husband put no pressure on me to change my name, but he would 
like our children to have one name - his.  We may still 
incorporate my maiden name into our children's names, perhaps 
as a middle name.  For a while, this is what I considered for 
myself: Hannah Dvorak Carbone, no hyphen.  However, I finally 
opted against this for the reason someone has already 
mentioned, namely that this would inevitably become H.D. 
Carbone.  Also, unlike some last names, Dvorak makes for a 
rather odd middle name.  However, I'm attached enough to Dvorak 
that I never considered giving it up entirely, despite the fact 
that many people can't seem to pronounce or spell it.  Of 
course, that's just been exacerbated by the addition of a 
hyphen and seven more letters!

What I like about the hyphenated name is that it effectively 
encompasses all its possible subsets; people can easily 
recognize that I am (the former) Ms. Dvorak, the current Mrs. 
Greg Carbone (a formulation I don't particularly care for, but 
I accept it as meaning "wife of Greg Carbone," even while 
wishing there was a similar form for "husband of...") and the 
future Dr. Dvorak-Carbone (once I finally graduate).  I 
considered and rejected the idea of using my maiden name 
professionally and my married name socially for the same 
reasons that other posters have pointed out: first, many of my 
friends are also my colleagues, and second, using two names 
would make it hard to keep track of which one you're using 

One thing that took a little pressure off my decision making is 
that I identify myself much more strongly with my first than my 
last name anyway.  I'm the only Hannah I know (at least in my 
age group; I've met toddlers named Hannah).  If I had a more 
common first name, I might have chosen differently.  Also, I 
didn't have the weight of a publication record to sway my 
decision.  All I've got under my maiden name are two abstracts 
and a middle authorship on a conference proceedings.  And 
certainly my new name is unique!  (Not that there are that many 
Dvoraks - or Carbones, for that matter - to "compete" with in 

That said, though, I'm still adapting to my decision.  My new 
name is on my office door, in my .sig file, and on my social 
security card, but not yet on my driver's license, passport, or 
chequebook.  I have not yet introduced myself to anyone as 
Hannah Dvorak-Carbone, and when others introduce me just as 
Hannah Dvorak, I don't correct them.  I do feel my name is 
somewhat long and awkward.  Sometimes I wish I could just 
change my name to a non-ASCII character and be the 
neurobiologist formerly known as Hannah. :)  On the other hand, 
I just got Volume One of this year's Neuroscience meeting 
abstracts today, and glancing at the author list made me 
realize that there are much longer and more cumbersome names 
than mine out there!

Ok, guess that was a lot more than $.02 worth, but like I said, 
it's something I've thought about a lot.  

- Hannah

Hannah Dvorak-Carbone
Division of Biology 216-76
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125

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