Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Your surname and an update on Genealogy 101 classes

If you're not sure where your ancestors may have originated try looking at the origin of the surname. While there are a number of books in our collection that are specific to surnames such as A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: with special American instances (by Charles Wareing Endell Bardsley, 1901, Genealogical Publishing Co), the most complete source we own is Dictionary of American Family Names, Patrick Hanks, Editor (Oxford University Press 2003). This 3-volume set "attempt(s) to explain the history and origin of the 70,000 most frequent family names in the United States, together with some rarer names that are of historical or etymological importance." They state that "over 85% of Americans will find an entry for their surname" in this source. Each entry provides the frequency of the surname, the source language and origin of the surname, language of origin, original spelling, region if the name is strongly associated with a particular region of the mother country, a classification of the surname's orgin, and the linguistic history of the surname. Here's an example: Buckman (2179) English: (1) occupational name for a goatherd, Middle English bukkeman (from Old English bucca 'hegoat' + mann 'man'). (2) occupational name for a scholar or scribe. Middle English bocman (from Old English boc 'book' + mann 'man') (3) possibly also a habitational name, a reduced form of Buckingham or metathesized form of Bucknam. You can find this source at R Gen 929.40973

Update on Genealogy 101: I still have room in the June 19 class, but June 26 is full. I have a wait list for June 26. If you're still interested and aren't registered contact me right away. If you're registered and find you won't be able to make it please contact me so someone on the wait list can take your place.

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