Monday, March 25, 2019

Where is Your Surname From?

When people research their family trees they often don't consider searching for the geography of  surnames. Researching the current and historical distribution of your last name may provide some very useful clues as to the countries, regions and even individual towns where you should concentrate your search for genealogical records.

If you are from Italy or have an Italian surname you can search for the geographical spread of your last name using the Heatmap of Italian Surnames. Just enter your name and you can view a heatmap showing the distribution of that name in Italy based on data from Pagine Bianche.

In Germany you can use GeoGen to view a map showing the geographical distribution of German surnames. If you have Irish forebears then you can use the Geo Genealogy Map of Irish Surnames.

The Geo Genealogy Map of Irish Surnames uses data from the 1890 census to show which families were living where in Ireland at the end of the nineteenth century. The surname labels on the map represent the relative birth counts of names. The larger a surname label on the map then the more people with that name were living in the county in 1890. If you zoom in on a county then more surnames will appear on the map.

You can also search for the geographical distribution of a name by using the search box. Search for a name and the map will reveal the number of people with that name in each county at the end of the nineteenth century.

If your family is from the UK then you can use named to research the origins of your family. Enter a surname into named and you can view a heat-map showing where your surname is unusually common in the UK. The application is very easy to use. All you do is enter a surname and named shows you a heatmap showing you where there is an unusually high number of people with that name. For example, 'Clarke' is a fairly common surname across the whole of the UK but named shows that it is actually unusually common in the Midlands area of the UK.

Named also allows you to enter two surnames to generate a heatmap showing mutual locations with the most people with either of the two surnames. This is very useful if you know both surnames of two married ancestors. The generated heatmap shows the locations in the UK where those two surnames are most common.

You can use Forebears to undertake a global search for your family surname. If you enter a surname into Forebears it will tell you the meaning of your name and show you a map of the global distribution of your name. Beneath this generated map you can view a list showing the number of incidences of your surname recorded in each country around the world. It also shows the ratio of people with your surname in each country and the rank of your name in comparison to the incidence of all over surnames in each country.

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