Q:

What are some common family surnames?

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Quick Answer

According to the United States Census Bureau's website citing the Census 2000, the top five family surnames are Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown and Jones. Many surnames are similar with small spelling differences, such as the Swedish name Johansson, often spelled as Johnson, or the German name Muller, often spelled Miller.

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Full Answer

Over 6 million names were identified on the census, many of which were only identified between one and four times, raising concerns about the validity of these names. Only the names occurring over 100 times were used to determine the list of top 1000 names. Only seven last names were held by over a million people, Smith was the highest, ranking at about 0.9 percent of the population or 2.3 million people.

The census grouped similar names such as Rodriguez, Martinez and Hernandez into a Hispanic group, regardless of the race noted on the census form. Hispanic names made up 12 percent of all of the names listed. Another example is Miller, which was held 86 percent of the time by those identifying as white. Williams and Jackson were found to be black names 82 percent of the time. However, names that were dominated by a single race were not necessarily highly popular within that specific population.

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