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How do I find out the origin of my last name, surname, or family name? How do I find the etymology of my name?

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2016  |  399 Views

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For information on your first or last name, there are a couple of good sites you can visit.

The genealogy site Ancestry.com offers a basic surname history search.  The information from this site is from the Dictionary of American Family Names (Oxford University Press).  (This resource is only available on-campus, though.)

Other online sites that may have some information for you is “Behind the Name: The Etymology and History of Surnames"  or "Forbears"

The Oxford Reference Collection Online has a number of e-reference books that will have this type of information including: Dictionary of American Family Names and A Dictionary of First Names.  Find the entire collection under the Os in the Find a Database list on the library homepage.

Also, there are some books located here in our Library that may be of assistance to your research.

A Dictionary of First Names
E-book available through Oxford Reference Online Premium Collection

E-book available through eBooks Collection.

Family Names:  How Our Names Came to America  
Sturgis and Johnson General Collection, Call Number CS2487 .H66 

A Dictionary of Surnames
Sturgis and Johnson Reference Collection, Call Number: CS2385 .H27 1988 

If your name is pretty common and you want to go deeper into the etymology, try the Oxford English Dictionary (at Oxford University Press).   From our homepage use the Find a Database under the SuperSearch box.  You will find it in alphabetical order under the Os.

We also have a Research Guide that gives more books and help with searching ethnicity, nationality and culture.

Also, don't hesitate to contact a librarian for help!

Answered by Rita SpisakBookmark and Share

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