Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - How Many Surnames?

It's Saturday Night - time for more Genealogy Fun!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Go into your Genealogy Management Program (GMP; either software on your computer, or an online family tree) and figure out how to Count how many surnames you have in your family tree database.

2)  Tell us which GMP you're using and how you did this task.

3)  Tell us how many surnames are in your database and, if possible, which Surname has the most entries.  If this excites you, tell us which surnames are in the top 5!  Or 10!

4)  Write about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook.

NOTE:  If you can't figure out how to do this in your GMP, use the Help button and search for "count persons" then follow directions. 

Here's mine:

I'm going to use RootsMagic 4 because that's where I'm doing my current additions, deletions and editing and is my most up-to-date collection.  In RootsMagic 4, go to Reports, then Lists and scroll down to "Surname Statistics List."  I then chose "Frequency of Surnames" from the list presented.

That took about 20 seconds and I have a 118 page list!  I didn't count every one of them - there are 117 pages with 47 names per page, plus the last page has 31.  That's a grand total of 5,530 surnames in my database with 39,740 persons.  The top 10 are, with birth date ranges:

*  SEAVER - 4,021 persons, from 1608 to 2010
*  BUCK - 651 persons, from 1585 to 1965
*  SMITH - 612 persons, from 1525 to 2005
*  VAUX - 515 persons, from 1620 to 2006
*  FITZ RANDOLPH - 498 persons, from 1565 to 1884

*  DILL - 439 persons, from 1652 to 1982
*  RICHMAN - 351 persons, from 1622 to 1985
*  NEWTON - 308 persons, from 1690 to 1997
*  CHAMPLIN - 306 persons, from 1618 to 1903
*  CULVER - 287 persons from 1700 to 1970

I have 167 Mary's without a surname, and 147 Elizabeth's without a surname, and 127 persons without any name at all (there's a blank line for this one!).

Of course, if I added up all the persons without a surname, my LNU's are probably the biggest group on the list.


Tessa Keough said...

Thanks Randy - that was easy and fun - I did it for both my blogs. Cheers!

Caro said...

Thanks for this week's challenge, Randy. I found it particularly interesting. I've blogged about it here:

Barbara Poole said...

I enjoyed this as well. And, blogged about it too at

We are 101 names apart!

Unknown said...

From Reunion for Macintosh, I found that I had 737 unique names. The highest counts were 103 for Strickler (my maiden name); 108 for Kimmel; 167 for Aton (my mother-in-law's maiden name); and 277 for Kimmell. If you combine the Kimmell spellings there are 277. The Stricklers married into the Kimmels. Reunion counted the missing last names (giving me 738 unique names) at 144.

kinfolknews said...

Thanks Randy! My post is here: Kinfolk News : How Many Surnames?


Greta Koehl said...

Gotta admit - I can't do this because I haven't updated from Reunion 8.06 to Reunion 9. Waaaah!

Chris Staats said...

I found this to be an interesting exercise, and actually found a use for this type of reporting. Read about it here!

Donna Hansen Peterson said...

Thanks Randy! This was fun. Read about my results at


Jen Smart said...

This was an interesting way to view my tree - thanks!

Sara Greenleaf said...

Thanks, Randy! This was a fun challenge. Here's my post, using Reunion:

Liz said...

Loved this! Here's by blog post:

Mel said...

Here are the results from my Pacheco de Braga database (I have 3 separate databases)

Chris Whitten said...

Randy et al,

Would it be useful to have a WikiTree widget that did this automatically, i.e. enabled you to embed a live clickable list of your top ten surnames, or whatever, in a blog post or in your sidebar?

I'm looking for new widget ideas to expand on the family tree widgets and contributions widgets. If anybody has thoughts or ideas post here or e-mail me at chris at