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29 June 2014

How Fixed Were Last Names?

Once research into your family's past progresses to before 1900, your ancestor's last name might not be as "fixed" as we think of last names being today. In certain regions of Europe last names changed from one generation to another or were tied to the property on which an ancestor lived (particularly in certain rural areas).

Don't assume that your ancestor's name was "fixed."

And don't assume that it changed either.

Learn about your ancestor's country of origin and determine what the common practices were in that region.


  1. My current surname, DENNY used to be DEMNY and before that DEMBNI or who knows what in Poland/Prussia!

  2. I've been been trying to keep track of all the spellings of my family names since I started looking for them. It's kind of tricky to figure out if they are related or not. I wrote about it yesterday, and again today after I read your tip. http://americansaga.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/whats-your-name/