How Do You Look up the Ancestry and History of Last Names?

There is no single resource for discovering the ancestry and history of a given surname. Most surnames belong to many different families, each of which has its own history and origin. Ancestry and other genealogical resources can provide insight into a surname by accessing immigration records, census data and other information for individuals who carried a particular surname.

Ancestry offers a free surname finder service, which provides information on the history and ancestry of a particular surname. This service provides locations where a surname is found, as well as immigration records, census data and military records. This service can help narrow down the national origins of surnames, and it provides links to historical information.

Genealogy Today offers a surname finder service that aggregates genealogical resources from across the web. Entering a surname into this search engine will produce a list of resources that may provide information on that surname's origins, ancestry and history. The resources include databases, death records and military records. Additionally, the list includes individual family history websites and books, as well as reunion announcements particular to that surname.

Forebears provides detailed information on surname origins, as well as maps showing the geographic distribution of a given surname. This service draws on historical documents to identify early instances of a surname.