Your last name is one of the major links to your past and heritage. By researching the origins of your surname you can unlock a variety of information. How do you find the origin of your surname? Surprisingly, researching your last name can be done easily and there are a variety of resources that can help you easily research the origin of your surname.
Researching the Origin of Your Surname Step #1: Googling
The first step to researching your surname should be a simple Google search. Try typing into the search bar your last name and the word “meaning.” This should bring up a variety of web pages with a simple history of your last name, especially if your surname is a common one.
Researching the Origin of Your Surname Step #2: Check Ancestry Websites
After you have Googled your last name the next step to researching the origin of your surname is to check ancestry websites. Some good websites to check are www.searchforancestors.com and www.ancestry.com.
Search for Ancestors has a large list of over three thousand surnames and their meanings and history. This is a great site to check for the history of your surname. The allow you to not only search for your surname, but for surnames of different regions.
Ancestry is also a great resource for researching your surname. Using their family tree feature you may also come into contact with long lost members of your family who has more information than you, expanding your family tree.
Researching the Origin of Your Surname Step #3: Ask Your Family
Asking your family members is often an overlooked and valuable resource for tracing the origin of your surname. Many times someone in your family has already done the research or has information about your family history.
When researching the origin of my surname I learned that several years ago a distant relative had written a “Campbell Family Book” this book listed every member of our family and had detailed sections about our family history back to Scotland.
Researching the Origin of Your Surname Step #4: Check Alternate Spellings
Most Americans have had a family history of migration to the United States. In the past when immigrants moved to the United States it was not uncommon for their last names to change and become more American sounding or to be misspelled.
If you are having trouble finding the origin of your surname, try searching for alternate spellings and names that are similar to yours. For example, my last name is Campbell surnames similar to mine are Kimball, Kimbell and Gamble researching any of those last names can lead to more information about the origin of my surname.
Researching the Origin of Your Surname Step #5: Research Your Findings
Once you have gathered information about the origin of your surname you can really begin to learn more about your heritage. Research any people or places related to your last name. This will lead to truly understanding your past.
For example, by finding the origin of my last name I know that the name Campbell has roots to Colin the Great. So the next step to tracing the origin of my surname would be to do detailed research on Colin the Great.
Researching the Origin of Your Surname Step #6: Saving Your Findings For The Future
Remember, researching your surname is all about researching your family’s past and history. So be sure to write and gather the information you learn when tracing the origin of your surname and keep it in a safe place for the future generations of your family.