Western European Surnames | Newberry

Western European Surnames

Saturday, April 8, 2017
Saturday, April 8

1 - 4 pm

Led by Jack Shreve

Cost and Registration Information

Early Registration Price (by February 10): $80

Regular Price (after February 10): $88

Register Here.

Seminar Description

Every surname has a meaning, and the study of them can give you a revealing glimpse into life in an earlier time. In this seminar, which will focus on English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish surnames, we will first learn to identify the language to which the surname belongs (for example, is “Ledbetter” German or English?). Then, because the roots of many European surnames are uncertain, we will employ a forensic approach to put together etymologies using accessible tools such as language and place name dictionaries. One session.

Jack Shreve has a doctorate in historical linguistics from the Dept. of Hispanic Languages at the University of Pittsburgh and 32 years of experience teaching English and Spanish at Allegany College of Maryland.

Materials List


  • Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009. ISBN: 978-0806311500

First Readings:

  • Please read Chapter 1 of Eldson Smith’s American Surnames for the first class.

This class is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program. Learn more about our registration procedures.