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German Family History

German Name Meaning

English: ethnic name from Old French germain ‘German’ (Latin Germanus). This sometimes denoted an actual immigrant from Germany, but was also used to refer to a person who had trade or other connections with German-speaking lands. The Latin word Germanus is of obscure and disputed origin; the most plausible of the etymologies that have been proposed is that the people were originally known as the ‘spear-men’, with Germanic ger, gar ‘spear’ as the first element. English (of Norman origin): from the Old French personal name Germain (see Germain). Americanized spelling of Spanish Germán or Hungarian Germán, cognates of 2. German: from the saint’s name German(us). See also Germann. Jewish (eastern Ashkenazic): Russianized variant of Hermann. Greek: reduced form of Germanos, a Greek personal name, bestowed in honor of saints of the Eastern Church distinct from St. Germain: in particular, St. Germanos in the 8th century, liturgical poet and patriarch of Constantinople. The Greek surname can also denote someone associated with Germany or someone with blond hair.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press


Similar surnames: Germain, Gorman, Perman, Berman, Derman, Herman, Jerman, Gurman

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Where is the German family from?

You can see how German families moved over time by selecting different census years. The German family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most German families were found in the USA in 1880. In 1911 there were 373 German families living in Ontario. This was about 56% of all the recorded German's in Canada. Ontario had the highest population of German families in 1911.
Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the German surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.

What did your German ancestors do for a living?

In 1921, Farmer and Housekeeper were the top reported jobs for men and women in the CA named German. 36% of German men worked as a Farmer and 14% of German women worked as a Housekeeper. Some less common occupations for Americans named German were Farmers Son and Nurse.

View Census data for German | Data not to scale

*We display top occupations by gender to maintain their historical accuracy during times when men and women often performed different jobs.

Top Male Occupations in 1921

  • Farmer
    36%
  • Laborer
    9%
  • Labourer
    7%
  • Farmers Son
    7%

Top Female Occupations in 1921

  • Housekeeper
    14%
  • Maid
    10%
  • Cultivateur
    10%
  • Nurse
    10%
Black & white image of two construction labourers

What German family records will you find?

Census Records

There are 102,000 census records available for the last name German. Like a window into their day-to-day life, German census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

Search Canadian census records for German

Passenger Lists

There are 16,000 immigration records available for the last name German. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in Canada, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

View all German immigration records

Draft Cards

There are 89,000 military records available for the last name German. For the veterans among your German ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

View all German military records

You've only scratched the surface of German family history.

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What is the average German lifespan?

Between 1949 and 2004, in the United States, German life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1952, and highest in 2000. The average life expectancy for German in 1949 was 49, and 75 in 2004.

View Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for German

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