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Surnames and their spelling variations

Time and again, beginners and those already advanced in their family research stumble across the many spelling variations they encounter when researching their ancestors.  Univ.-Doz. Dr. Anna L. Staudacher, MAS, has written a highly interesting article on this topic for the online portal “Austria Forum” (in German).

“Spelling of surnames was only regulated towards the end of the 19th century. Before that, names were written down according to their sounds – in the way in which the writer heard and understood them. Copies were then made at various scriptoriums by copyists. Documents for personal identification were either written entirely by hand, or fill-in-the-blanks forms were used where only the names, dates and places of birth, locations and professions needed to be entered. Sometimes, previous written documents were available for reference. Even then it was often difficult to decipher them, particularly if the reader did not know how the name would sound. If one and the same document needed several copies, usually one person read out loud what needed to be written while several writers made the actual copies. Lists of names as well as indices were created in a similar way. …“

The full article is available in German on the Austria-Forum:

If you appreciate the article in the Austria-Forum you can rate it by clicking the tick in the upper right corner of the text frame, “Geben Sie diesem Artikel Ihre Stimme”.

More on Univ.-Doz. Dr. Anna L. Staudacher (in German):

The WIKI pages of the Austrian Society for Research on Genealogy and Regional Heritage also hold valuable information on names which you can access here.



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