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I am currently writing about the "de Morgan's laws" and have seen both "de Morgan" and "De Morgan."

Which of these is correct?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think this is really about history. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Dec 14, 2014 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE226868: This can be about history, if the OP is asking how this name was used historically, both as a personal name and as a title, at the beginning and in the middle of a sentence. $\endgroup$ Dec 14, 2014 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ @RoryDaulton In that case, though, it's not about mathematics, because it has nothing to do with the mathematical aspect of de/De Morgan's work. We had a meta discussion on the topic. This might be better off on History. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Dec 14, 2014 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ I think this question may be better suited to Linguistics $\endgroup$
    – Danu
    Dec 14, 2014 at 23:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Danu, it's actually a better fit for English Language & Usage. Linguistics.SE is about the study of how languages work, not details of how to use a particular language. $\endgroup$
    – Joe
    Dec 16, 2014 at 2:51

3 Answers 3

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People have the right to choose how they spell their own names. The person in question spelled his name as "De Morgan", e.g. here (on page vi):

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=zPYDAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

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I believe I know where the occasional lower case spelling (and thus your confusion) comes from.

Take for example this book which contains "Selected papers from the 7th Augustus de Morgan Workshop, London". Note the lower case "de".

The editors of the book were Dutch (Amsterdam University Press, Johan van Benthem); and in Dutch, words like "de" or "van" are spelled with a lower case when used in the middle of a person's name, and capitalized when used at the beginning. So a Dutch person, even when writing about an Englishman, would be tempted to write "His biography tells us that De Morgan was born in India" (capital D to indicate the use of "De" as the start of a name) but "Augustus de Morgan entered Trinity College when he was sixteen" (lower case "de" in the middle of a name).

I suspect that other sources of the use of "de" can similarly be traced to authors whose culture would naturally use lowercase in the middle of the name; but if you want to get it "right" you should spell the name the way he did - which is "Augustus De Morgan", as @fdb's answer demonstrates.

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    $\begingroup$ Good point! As a Dutchman, I can confirm that this grammatical curiosity exists, and it may very well be the best possible explanation. $\endgroup$
    – Danu
    Dec 20, 2014 at 9:09
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    $\begingroup$ I have been wondering for some time about the proper capitalization of Bartel Leendert van der Waerden, and your post has cleared it up for me. Thanks very much! $\endgroup$ Dec 20, 2014 at 20:55
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Why not consult the "History of Mathematics Archive" at http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/index.html ? It contains mini-biographies of hundreds of mathematicians.

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    $\begingroup$ I hate to come across as harsh to everyone here, but this is just a link-only answer, and it doesn't address the question. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Dec 14, 2014 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ If it means anything, the relevant biography at that web site is titled "Augustus De Morgan." Doesn't that answer the original question? If it is upper case in the personal name wouldn't it certainly be likewise in the law's name? $\endgroup$ Dec 14, 2014 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ @RoryDaulton, a link to the answer is not the answer itself. $\endgroup$
    – Joe
    Dec 16, 2014 at 2:53

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