New brides return to old custom

First Posted: 2/26/2012

Emma Rosen is soon to become Emma Sugerman. Rosen, 25, who works in health care marketing, will legally take the last name of her husband-to-be, medical student Noah Sugerman, when the two marry this summer.

Vanessa Messersmith, 32-year-old owner of the hip clothing shop Blacklist Vintage, took the name of her husband Jeremy, a musician, when they married six years ago. Both consider themselves to be feminists, and neither made the decision lightly.

The majority of married women in America have always chosen to legally assume their grooms’ last names. But at the end of the 20th century, more women retained their maiden names as a way of retaining individual identity.

A widely-noted Harvard study of college-educated women found that between 2 and 4 percent in 1975 kept their names. Those numbers sharply increased through the 1970s and 1980s before declining in the 1990s to just below 20 percent in 2001.

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