Tracing Immigrants Origin Names Personal

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Tracing Immigrant Origins
Wiki Topics
Emigrants Leave Ireland long.jpg
News and Events
Part 1. General
Part 2. Country of Arrival

 Country of Arrival Search Tactics
 Country of Arrival Record Finder
 Country of Arrival Record Types

Part 3. Country of Origin

 Country of Origin Search Tactics
 Country of Origin Record Finder
 Country of Origin Record Types

For Further Reading
The FamilySearch moderator for Tracing Immigrants Origin is GoAncestry

Surname books and other similar sources may provide places of origin for family names, but they are not available for every country. Such books are especially useful for localizing the surname. Examples of surname books for Switzerland and the Netherlands are—

  • Meier, Emil, et al. Familiennamenbuch Der Schweiz [Register of Swiss Surnames]. 3rd ed. Zürich, Switzerland: Polygraphischer Verlag, 1989. (Family History Library book Ref. 949.4 D4f 1989 vols. 1-3.) The register of surnames contains the names of families that had citizenship in a Swiss community in 1962. The families are listed by the canton and village of origin and give the date when the family name first appears.
  • Meertens, Dr.P.J. Ed. Nederlands Repertorium van Familienamen [Bibliography of Dutch Family Names]. Several vols. Assen, Netherlands: Van Gorcum & Comp. N.V., 1963. (Family History Library book 949.2 D4n.) Volumes for each province and several larger cities are available.

Etymology books study the origins of words. Name etymologies help identify the region a name comes from, its meaning, and common spelling variations. For less common surnames, these books may help localize the surname. Etymologies exist for most major countries of origin. A useful etymology for German names is—

  • Bahlow, Hans. Deutsches Namenlexikon [German Name Dictionary]. München: Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1972. (Family History Library book 943 D4ba.)