Category Archives: Surname Distribution Maps

Namensverbreitungskarte: 1890 & 1996 German Surname Distribution Map

Every once in a while, I find quirky websites and Namensverbreitungskarte is one of them.

Do you have any German surnames in your family tree? Then you might want to check out this website. It is a German surname distribution map, which focuses on two years in history – 1890 and 1996.

Obviously, if your surname is very common, it might not tell you much. However, Stufflebean is a rare surname, both in its modern American spelling and its original German spelling of Stoppelbein.

I had to try out the map and the 1890 view shows that there were but a handful of places where a Stoppelbein was to be found.

I added the surname, which then appeared in a turquoise box. Corresponding colored dots appeared on the map. I’ve enlarged the map as far as it will go, so I’ve added arrows to show the few places where the surname was found in 1890.

And in 1996?

The legend now has two Stoppelbein boxes, one in turquoise for the original 1890 map and one in magenta to represent 1996. I’ve only placed arrows kind of at the outer regions where Stoppelbeins are found in Germany today.

It’s fun to see the growth of Stufflebean relatives, as it is a unique surname and, as far as we can tell, all are descended from one man born about 1600.

I also tried various spellings of Dulworth – Dulwert, Dulvitt, etc., hoping to get a lead on where the elusive John Dulworth began life in Germany before martians dropped him off in Knox County, Tennessee in the 1790s. However, I got no hits for any form of that surname.

It’s a very easy site to use, with directions in English even though it is based in Germany.

Using Surname Distribution Maps

Have you ever tried out a surname distribution map? I’ve tried a couple and they are both fun and useful. Beginning with a caveat, though, you will find that common surnames won’t give you much useful information unless you want to know how many people there are with that name. If you want to narrow down localities, you won’t have much luck.

However, if your surname of interest is less common – like Stufflebean – these maps can actually be very useful. One of the easiest to use is Public Profiler because it brings up names worldwide. Again, I have to add a caveat – if your surname spelling has changed from its original form, you will probably need to know its original incarnation to be successful.

Here’s an example. First, I looked for Stufflebeans worldwide on Public Profiler, which does require an email log-in, but is free. It also has a component specifically geared towards Great Britain.

I clicked on the link in the box with the globe and then entered my surname in the search box. The only place in the world where the Stufflebean surname is found is in the United States, which isn’t a surprise. Here is where the second caveat that I mentioned comes in. Stufflebean evolved from the original surname Stoppelbein.

What results appeared? There are a few in the U.S., but most live in Germany, which is also not a surprise. The name is prevalent in the Rheinland Palatinate area of Germany. Wild cards brought up no hits, so it really is important to enter variant spellings of your name.

I am actually a bit surprised at how many surname distribution map sites there are online. There is a list on FamilySearch, but a number of the websites either only focus on the meaning of a surname or bring up hits to data on family trees or the website has shut down.

Here is a more up to date list. Some are specific to one country, which might be more accurate than, say, a website that is trying to cover the world. Many of the country specific websites have instructions only in its own language, not in English, so you might need to use Google Translate.

These websites are all free to use.

Austria – Surname Distribution Maps of Austria
Belgium – FamilieNaam
Czech Republic – KdeJsme
France – Filae
Germany – GenEvolu
Germany – GeoGen 4.0
Germany & Netherlands – Verwandt
Ireland – Irish Ancestors
Italy – GENS
Netherlands – Meertens Instituut
Poland – Moikrewni
Switzerland – Verwandt

Forebears – This is a U.K. website, but covers the world.

I decided to try it out, again using Stufflebean and Stoppelbein. Here are the results:

The Stufflebean results were expected, but I was not prepared to see Stoppelbein hits only in the U.S. and none in Germany. This is a lesson to be sure to use more than one of these mapping websites.

I decided to try one more rare surname, Kacsenyak, which is one of my Slovak lines, but I got no hits, so there are search limitations on these websites.

However, if you are combining family history research with DNA testings to crack through some brick walls, these surname distribution maps are a handy companion tool.