Sunday, February 15, 2015

5 Online Surname Origin Research Resources

Surname Origin Research Resources Desperately Seeking Surnames

5 Online Surname Origin Research Resources

If you would like to learn more about the origins of your ancestral surnames, here are 5 online resources for you.

The worldwide center for one-name studies. You may search their collection as well as join a study. 

database containing over 40,000 surnames and can provide detailed history about a surname.

"This most interesting surname is of Old French origin, and is a locational name from "Briencun", a place in Normandy." 1

3. Ancestry Surname Origins  
This resource provides detailed surname origin information as well a distribution maps. You may also find links to information within Ancestry's collections.

4. Forebears 
A surname meaning and distribution database containing over 11 million surnames.


5. Irish Ancestors Surname Search 
This surname resource is provided by The Irish Times and provides a distribution map as well as histories, if available.

Do you have any go-to surname research resources?

Please share them if you do. I am also looking to expand my surname book collection. If you have any recommendations I welcome those as well.

See all the Surnames I Seek here.

1. Surname Database: Brimson Last Name Origin,, 2/13/2015

2. Gillpin Surname Meaning, Origins & Distribution | Family Name,, 2/13/2015

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Ancestor Count By Generation

What's Your Ancestor Count?

It's the beginning of a new year and a good time to review what you have accomplished in your ancestral research to date. Sort of get a big picture overview of how far you have come and map out your direction for the coming year. Several bloggers have published posts detailing their ancestral count and I am now curious about my numbers.

Ancestor Count Desperately Seeking Surnames

In 10 Generations An Individual Has 1,024 Ancestors

I reviewed my Legacy database and I have identified 61 direct line ancestors in 10 generations. That puts my overall completion score at 6%. So. Yeah. I have a long way to go.

I started my genealogy research in October, 2001. That means in a little more than 13 years, I have only found 61 of my direct ancestors. That doesn't sound like a very good success rate (and frustrates me to no end), but identifying a potential ancestor is just the beginning.

Ancestors That Never Allow Us To Prove They Belong

As most of those reading this post know, a researcher can spend weeks, months or even years proving a relationship. And, of course, there are those stubborn ancestors we identify that never allow us to prove they belong to us no matter how much time or effort we devote to them.

I do have more names in my working database (my Ancestry online tree) and a few significant clues to follow up on. But those that I am confident are my ancestor make up the 61 found to date.

Monday, December 29, 2014

They Were My Family All Along

They were my family all along but until I read the instructions the facts didn't support that conclusion.

Ancestry Provides Source and Detailed Information for their Record Sets

It's up to us, the researcher, to take advantage of the valuable information that is available regarding the record sets we access. Time and time again, lecture after lecture, session after session we are told "familiarize yourself with the record sets you are working with." In order to correctly draw conclusions, you have to know what the records are saying and how they are saying it.

The longer I spend performing genealogy research the more I understand how valuable that advice is. Now, thanks to a more studious fellow researcher, I am a total believer. You know that saying "you buy em books and you buy em books but you can't make em read them"? That's me, I wasn't reading more than the covers.

Reading the Enumerators Instructions Can Eliminate Frustration

Enumerator instructions for the 1841 England Census 1841 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2010.

Henry, Jane, James, Esther, Thomas and Sarah were together as a family unit in the 1841 England Census, right where I expected them to be in Mile End New Town. However, I couldn't get past the ages listed, some were wrong. This looked like my family but the parents were too young to be my family, or so I thought.

There was my Brimson family right where they were supposed to be

Thankfully, a very studious fellow Brimson researcher did read the instructions and pointed out to me that the enumerators were instructed to round the ages down to the nearest 5 years. Why? What sense that makes I have no idea but it is what it is. No matter the reason, if I too round down to the nearest 5 years, this Brimson family becomes my Brimson family.

It is now time to go back and read the instructions, all of them.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014