What Is the Best Way to Find the History of Your Family's Name?


Quick Answer

One finds the history and meaning of a family's last name by using surname meaning search tools on sites such as Ancestry.com, SurnameDB.com or FamilyEducation.com. Sites such as SearchForAncestors.com and FindMyPast.com also contain search tools, as well as articles about deciphering the numerous variations of different last names.

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Full Answer

Individuals searching for a last name history on Ancestory.com are able to conduct a search directly from the site's main page, as of March 2015. Doing so brings up a listing of different records relating to the last name, including census records, immigration listings, Civil War service records and family origin explanation. This name origin section consists of all available records of individuals with that family name and the country from which she originated, with details about the variations in spelling and name meaning.

SurnameDB.com features a less comprehensive search tool that forgoes numerous records in favor of a written account of the name's meaning and historical uses. Users are able to choose from popular or recently updated names, as well as search for specific names. Each entry for a last name contains a history of the name, statistics about the name, links to external sites with other family name details and a discussion section.

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