Tracing Immigrants Origin Names Personal
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. (FHL 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. (FHL 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. (FHL book 943 D4ba.)