Home
Family Matters
Genealogy Research
Genealogical Test
Surname
Sylvia Moorehead
Dan Campbell
Edward Roberts
Reports & Charts
Family Tidbit
Reunion History
Reunion List
Reunion Photos
Reunion Memories
Family Memories
Phone Book
Family Love
Contact Us
Family Newsletter
DNA Testing
Family History?
 

Surname

Welcome to The
Roberts, Campbell, and Moorehead Family Website

Surname is another word for last name, family names, and a multitude of other names in cultures and languages across the world. Unlike our first name, it serves as a family legacy for many. You may also find that a family emblem is part of the family name. An emblem may serve as the centerpiece around which a family builds an identity.

Everyone gets a name at birth, and it comes to mean a lot to the person. It is something to be proud of for many people, and over the years, it may retain more of a bearing for a person.

The Encarta Dictionary defines surname as "the name that identifies somebody as belonging to a particular family and that he or she has in common with other members of that family". There are of course other definitions depending on the research site used.

In many cultures, the parent's name forms the surname. They often shorten the father's name, or combine the parents name and use that as their surname. Of course, it changes from generation to generation. It acts as a tribute to their parents instead of a symbol that fits the entire family like in the United States.

In many earlier cultures, there were gender specific names. They would alter the father's name to make a female version. They often altered the last few characters in the name to give it the female touch, while keeping the same family bearing.

In the United States, just fewer than two thousand surnames covers over half the population. One percent of the population has the name Smith. This is also true in China. Approximately one hundred names covers over three quarters of the population. The most common choices are Wang, Zhang, and Li.

Names have a huge weight on culture, and it is something that we tend to forget about in daily life. We never fully appreciate that they determine a large part of our identity. They come into use day after day whether it is signing a letter, sending an email, or registering for a website.

More recently, people have been changing their surnames and supplementing it with an ornamental name. They usually have some meaning to the person who is making the change. They prefer that meaning instead of the one given at birth. Ornamental names have been gaining popularity since the later 19th century.

Many surnames have had their meaning lost in translation over the years. No matter, we should endeavor to embrace the philosophy they represent. Surnames may lie in the background of our lives but they play a larger part than one would imagine.

Of course, ornamental names, adoptions, altered and spelling changes present special (if not impossible) challenges when doing genealogical research. If you can start your research with a birth name, this will help tremendously in documenting family lineage.

This is especially true for women in western cultures because their last name is that of their husband. Therefore, her children will need to trace their lineage through their fatherís name and their mother's birth name.

Tracing family roots through DNA testing is gaining in popularity. As more and more people do DNA testing, you no doubt will find family members that you otherwise would not have found though tracing by name. Of course, you must know your own genetic markers by having a DNA test.

Click here for information about DNA testing.

Return to the Roberts - Moorehead Family home page

Back to top - Surname