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One of the people I am researching appears to have changed her name: in the 1915 NYC census she appears as Reva Osernoff, living with the Axel family:

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Similarly in the 1920 federal and 1930 censuses:

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But in her marriage record from 1937, she appears as Riva O Axel.

This suggests that she adopted the name of the family with which she lived most of her life, which is not that surprising. My question is whether this kind of a name change would be documented somewhere. In particular, would her original parents' names be likely to be listed there? (I know her father's name from family lore, but not her mother's name.)

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The answer to this question would differ between countries and even between states within countries. As an example, in Queensland Australia, a person's legal name can become that of the name they are known as. If a male marries and the wife's child starts using the male's surname, this becomes their legal name as soon as it is recognised as their surname. Sorry if this does not make sense, I could not word it properly.

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I think I understand what you're saying; I am hoping for an answer specific to the laws applicable in NYC. – Gene Golovchinsky Dec 3 '12 at 17:01

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