What did President Truman's middle initial stand for?

The first person to correctly comment on this story about what the "S" stands for in Harry S. Truman gets a free UNMC lapel pin.

If you don't know, maybe you can find out today when Dr. William Worley brings his Harry Truman impersonation to campus today for a Durham Museum presentation.

Partnership information

The lecture is offered through the Time Travelers partnership, which provides free museum admission for medical center employees, students and their immediate family with valid identification.

When: Noon

Where: Sorrell Center, Room 2010. Employees are encouraged to bring lunch.

What: Dr. Worley will step in to the former president's shoes to show how his willingness to make difficult decisions during and after World War II have brought him to historic consideration as one of America's top 10 presidents. Learn how Truman gained the nomination for vice-president -- which he did not seek -- in 1944 that led to his becoming president when President Franklin Roosevelt died in April 1945.

Who: Dr. Worley is a historical consultant, teacher and author who holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Kansas.


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robert ostrander
July 16, 2021 at 7:00 PM

No middle name, just letter "S" ... . .

Dale McGuinn
February 15, 2021 at 8:45 AM

The S stands for Shipley. The last name of his biological father. His mother stole him away from his father at the age if 5, moved away to another town in Missouri, remarried and named him by her new married name.

Susan R. Smith
February 25, 2011 at 12:58 PM

I'm trying to think of a topic lately that has garnered so many responses as the question about Harry Truman's middle initial. Can't think of one...great job PR in getting peoples' attention on an educational opportunity!

Cassandra Steiner
February 25, 2011 at 10:11 AM

He didn't have a middle name. His advisors made him use an S. for campaigning purposes, so his name sounded better to voter.s

cyndi morris
February 25, 2011 at 9:32 AM

The S in Harry S. Truman refers to the names of both of his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.

Tina Rosa
February 25, 2011 at 9:27 AM

The answer would be nothing.His grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young could not agree on what Harry's middle name should be ,so Harry was given only a middle initial "S" which stood for Solomon or Shipp depending on which side of the family one asked.

John Schleicher
February 25, 2011 at 9:08 AM

It didn't stand for anything. The army assigned it to him in World War I. You had to have a middle initial for military records. My grandfather had no middle initial, and the army gave him a "J" in World War I.

Mirna Colon
February 25, 2011 at 8:28 AM

I believe it was that his mother and father wanted to name him after someone from both sides of their familie which began with the letter "S" and they couldn't decide so they just gave President Truman the initial S. He is the only President to have a letter as a middle name.

Robin Jaeckel
February 25, 2011 at 8:28 AM

Harry Truman s middle name really was just "S." According to the Truman Library the "S" was a compromise between the names of his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.

Harlan Sayles
February 25, 2011 at 8:23 AM

The S. doesn't stand for anything. My grandpa was the same way with a middle initial of "C" that didn't stand for anything.

Craig Poole
February 25, 2011 at 8:22 AM

from what I recall, his S stood for nothing except being named after his 2 grandfathers. I do geneaolgy, and haved looked him up before.

Jim McMullen
February 25, 2011 at 8:19 AM

It was just the letter "S".

Erin Jaworski
February 25, 2011 at 8:17 AM

The S doesn't stand for anything. Both of his grandfathers had an S initial in their names, so it was in their honor so to speak, but it isn't short for anything.

Wally Murphy
February 25, 2011 at 8:16 AM

Truman's middle initial Truman did not have a middle name, but only a middle initial. It was a common practice in southern states, including Missouri, to use initials rather than names. Truman said the initial was a compromise between the names of his grandfathers, Anderson Shippe Truman and Solomon Young. He once joked that the S was a name, not an initial, and it should not have a period, but all official documents, and his presidential library all use the name with a period. The Harry S. Truman Library states publicly that it has numerous examples of the signature written at various times throughout Truman's lifetime where his use of a period after the "S" is very obvious.

Erin Plouzek
February 25, 2011 at 8:09 AM

The S was the name his parents gave him in honor of his two grandfathers, it wasn't an 'initial'.

Maggie Jones
February 25, 2011 at 8:03 AM

The S doesn't stand for anything!

Tom Cooper
February 25, 2011 at 7:55 AM

The "S" was his "middle name". It did not stand for anything. It was used to please both of his Grandfathers, both of them had an "S" in their initials.

Dorothy Panowicz
February 25, 2011 at 7:47 AM

The S is just that. It doesn't stand for anything.

Marie Witthoft
February 25, 2011 at 7:30 AM

Harry Truman's middle name was only te initial "S"

Kathleen Caldwell
February 25, 2011 at 7:21 AM

Harry Truman only had a middle initial. The initial was given in honor of both of his grandfathers' middle names, Solomon and Shippe.

Jeannie Juul
February 25, 2011 at 7:14 AM

The "S" in Harry Truman's name didn't stand for anything. He did not have a middle name, and chose the letter S to make is appear that he did.