USE OF THE PERIOD
AFTER THE "S" IN
HARRY S. TRUMAN'S NAME
In recent years the
question of whether to use a period after the "S" in Harry S.
Truman's name has become a subject of controversy, especially among editors.
The evidence provided by Mr. Truman's own practice argues strongly for
the use of the period. While, as many people do, Mr. Truman often ran
the letters in his signature together in a single stroke, the archives
of the Harry S. Truman Library have numerous examples of the signature
written at various times throughout Mr. Truman's lifetime where his use
of a period after the "S" is very obvious.
Mr. Truman apparently initiated the "period" controversy in 1962 when, perhaps in jest, he told newspapermen that the period should be omitted. In explanation he said that the "S" did not stand for any name but was a compromise between the names of his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young. He was later heard to say that the use of the period dated after 1962 as well as before.
Several widely recognized style manuals provide guidance in favor of using the period. According to The Chicago Manual of Style all initials given with a name should "for convenience and consistency" be followed by a period even if they are not abbreviations of names. The U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual states that the period should be used after the "S" in Harry S. Truman's name.
Most published works
using the name Harry S. Truman employ the period. Authors choosing to
omit the period in their texts must still use it when citing the names
of organizations that employ the period in their legal titles (e.g. Harry
S. Truman Library) thus seeming to contradict themselves. Authoritative
publications produced by the Government Printing Office consistently use
the period in Mr. Truman's name, notably the Department of State's documentary
series Foreign Relations of the United States, Diplomatic Papers,
the Department of the Army's United States Army in World War II
and two major publications of the Office of the Federal Register, Public
Papers of the President - Harry S. Truman and the United States
Government Organization Manual.