|Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff, Sr.|
Cutting from paper.
February 29, 1904|
Bergedorf, near Hamburg, Germany
|Died||1985 (aged 80–81)|
|Children||Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff, Jr., Timothy Wayne Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff|
Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff, Sr. (Wolfe+585, Senior) is the short name of a Philadelphian typesetter, who has held the record for the longest personal name ever used. Hubert's given name is made up from 26 names, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet in consecutive order. "585" represents the number of additional letters in his full surname (total 590). His full 746-letter name is
Adolph Blaine Charles David
Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert
Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin
Nero Oliver Paul Quincy
Randolph Sherman Thomas
Uncas Victor William Xerxes
Wolfe+585 was born in Bergedorf (now part of Hamburg), Germany, and later emigrated to the United States, settling in Philadelphia. His birthdate has been given as February 29, 1904, but he was also reported to be age 47 in a mid-1964 wire story. He became a typesetter, "logically enough", according to Bennett Cerf. He was a member of the American Name Society for a while.
His name first attracted attention when it appeared in the 1938 Philadelphia telephone directory on page 1292, column 3, line 17, and in a court order of judge John Boyle of May 25, 1938: "Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff, Jr., [sic] etc., vs. Yellow Cab Co., petition for compromise settlement granted"—with speculation that the case was settled because "they couldn't pronounce it".
A son, Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff, Jr., was born in Philadelphia in 1952, and was able to pronounce his surname by age three. Family letterhead used the form "Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff".
When Inquirer journalist Frank Brookhouser omitted the letter "u" in reporting a 1952 Philadelphia voter registration under the 35-letter surname, Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff's prompt correction was carried by Time and passed on to other outlets. Philadelphia's business computers used an abbreviated form on the city's voting registration books; the utility company, however, when told he wouldn't pay his bill unless his name was right, began spelling it properly, on three lines. Brookhouser later responded by tributing the correctly spelled Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff as the exemplar Philadelphian named in the first sentence of his Our Philadelphia, comparing him to another local typesetter, Benjamin Franklin:
Philadelphia, home of Hubert B. Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff, Sr.—like Benjamin Franklin a typesetter—and 2,071,604 other residents according to the last official census in 1950, is the third largest city in the United States of America and the biggest small town in the world.
The executive secretary-treasurer of the American Name Society also provided a 163-letter spelling which truncates and edits the canonical spelling (in bold), "Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorffvoralternwarengewissenhaftschaferswessenschaftswarenwohlgefutternundsorgfaltigkeitbeschutzenvorangreifendurchihrraubgierigfiends", stating that this was his "full name as given ... at birth on the envelope". The spelling was reproduced verbatim by the Maryland and Delaware Genealogist.
In 1964, an Associated Press wire story reported that the IBM 7074 computer at the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. could process one million policies but refused to handle that of Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff, which was specially processed by hand. He explained to reporter Norman Goldstein, "When somebody calls my name, I don't have any trouble finding out who they mean .... I don't like being part of the common herd." Versions of this story contain the oldest known occurrences of the long name in print. Some versions catered to hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia by conveying the rumor that his name contains exactly 666 letters, which has not been supported by any reliable spelling.
He appeared in all editions of the Guinness Book of World Records from roughly 1975 to 1985 as having the longest personal name, and was photographed for the book in front of a New York City marquee displaying his name, once again misspelled. By 1983, only the 35-letter form of the name appeared in the Guinness Book; in the late 1980s, the category disappeared. Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff was also catalogued by logologists Dmitri Borgmann and Gyles Brandreth, and by The Book of Useless Information.
Translation of surname
The "New Dictionary of American Family Names" translates the 35-letter form as "a descendant of Wolfeschlegelstein (one who prepared wool for manufacture on a stone), of the house of Bergerdorf (mountain village)"; the Fairleigh Dickinson University Names Institute gives "wolf slayer who lives in the stone house in the mountain village".
Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff[s] who before ages were conscientious shepherds whose sheep were well tended and diligently protected against attackers who by their rapacity were enemies who 12,000 [sic] years ago appeared from the stars to the humans by spaceships with light as an origin of power, started a long voyage within starlike space in search for the star which has habitable planets orbiting and whither the new race of reasonable humanity could thrive and enjoy lifelong happiness and tranquility without fear of attack from other intelligent creatures from within starlike space.
- Goldstein, Norman (June 25, 1964). "What's in A Name? 666 Letters". The Free-lance Star.
- Jones, Tamura. "Genealogical Record: Longest Name".
- Cerf, Bennett (1959-10-19). "Try and Stop Me". Delta Democrat-Times. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- McMullen, Edwin Wallace (2002). Names New and Old: Papers of the Names Institute. Fairleigh Dickinson University Names Institute. pp. 263–264.
- Wiedersheim, William A. (1938). "Article". The Shingle (Philadelphia Bar Association): 140.
- Wiedersheim, William A. (1938). "Article". The Shingle (Philadelphia Bar Association): 150.
- "Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergderorff". Gettysburg Times. 1955-07-23. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- Hook, J.N. (1991). All Those Wonderful Names: A Potpourri of People, Places, and Things. John Wiley & Sons. p. 151.
- "Typo". Time. 1952-09-01. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- Vaughn, Bill (1954-01-18). "Target Practice". Marion Star. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- "Article". Albuquerque Journal. 1955-06-03. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- Brookhouser, Frank (1957). Our Philadelphia: A Candid and Colorful Portrait of a Great City. Doubleday. pp. 3, 224.
- Kramer, Fritz L. (1960). "Names Not Brief". Names: A Journal of Onomastics (American Name Society): 87–88.
- Clark, Raymond B. The Maryland and Delaware Genealogist. p. 73.
- Associated Press (1964-06-25). "What Was That Name Again?". News. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- Associated Press (1964-06-25). "What's in a Name? Please Don't Ask!". Manitowoc Herald Times. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- "Article". Ada Evening News. 1964-07-01. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- Goldstein, Norman (1964-06-25). "What's In A Name? Only 666 Letters". The Progress. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- McWhirter, Norris (1980-11-01). Guinness Book of World Records 1981. Sterling Publishing. p. 206. ISBN 0-8069-0196-9.
- McWhirter, Norris (1984). Guinness Book of World Records 1985. Sterling Publishing. p. 140. ISBN 0-8069-0264-7.
- McWhirter, Norris (1989). Guinness Book of World Records 1990.
- Borgmann, Dmitri A. (1965). Language on Vacation: An Olio of Orthographical Oddities. Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 150.
- Brandreth, Gyles Daubeney (1980). The Joy of Lex: How to Have Fun with 860,341,500 Words. William Morrow and Company. p. 240.
- Botham, Noel (2006). The Book of Useless Information. Perigee Books. p. 65.
- "Wolfe 585+, Senior".
- Smith, Elsdon Coles (1973). New Dictionary of American Family Names. Harper & Row. p. 558.
- "World’s Longest Surname". Museum of Hoaxes. 2005-10-20. Retrieved 2008-06-25.