Q: How do I find out the origin of my last name, surname, or family name? How do I find the etymology of my name?
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.
We also have some books at the Library that may help you:
- A Dictionary of First Names
Available electronically through the Oxford Reference Online Premium Collection
- The Surnames Handbook : A Guide to Family Name Research in the 21st Century
- Family Names: How Our Names Came to America
Call Number: CS2487 .H66 1982
Available at Johnson Library and Sturgis Library General Collection
- A Dictionary of Surnames
Call Number: CS2385 .H27 1988
Available at Johnson Library Reference Collection and Sturgis Library Reference Collection
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!
For more information
For more help, email the Research and Instructional Services department, or call or visit one of our Research Help Desks:
Sturgis Library at Kennesaw: Ground Floor, Room G-16, 470-578-6325
Johnson Library at Marietta: First Floor, Room C-125, 470-578-7471
Last UpdatedJul 19, 2017
Ground Floor Library, G16 (Kennesaw)
First Floor Library, C125 (Marietta)