How Can You Find Out the Background of a Name?


Quick Answer

Find out the background of a name by using a website or organization that specializes in finding and recording the history and meaning of a name. For surnames, Ancestry.com is a reliable resource. For given names, the Social Security Administration and the website BehindtheName.com are reliable sources.

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Full Answer

Many of the features to find basic information on names are free, but to find more in-depth information, payment may be requested on Ancestry.com. The data on this website is pulled from immigration records, census data, military records, voter lists, birth records and death records. It compiles this information to give you a comprehensive scope on the background of a name as well as the location of individuals who have the same name.

Behind the Name uses a variety of book sources and online resources to validate its findings and focuses on the etymology and linguistic origins of a name. The Social Security Administration website traces back any time a name was recorded in the United States. This site can determine the popularity of a name in certain time periods, when the name first appeared on record, or possible variations of the name. The data from the Social Security Administration is collected from the applications for a Social Security number.

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