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I am looking to make a list of current day surnames where my ancestors lived in the 19th century to aid in translating and spelling out names in old baptism and marriage records. I know that the German phone book exists, but can't seem to find a way to get a full list of people in a zip code. The area is Billigheim, in Baden-Württemberg.

  • I'm not sure a list of surnames makes any sense, you'll just get random German surnames. Are you sure you didn't mean family names? I guess you could just go there and look at the postal boxes, much more efficient than looking at phone books since not everyone have a house phone anymore and/or don't want to write it in the phone book for privacy reasons. – Bregalad Jan 13 '16 at 17:25
  • Or using worldnames.publicprofiler.org, it seem the most common names in Billigheim are: Keller, Müller, Walter, Wagner, Steinbach, Fischer, Grosskinsky, Schäfer, Zipf and Haaf. – Bregalad Jan 13 '16 at 17:29
  • @Bregalad Surname is a synonym of Family Name en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surname – Mike Jan 13 '16 at 18:04
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This is not a direct answer to the question, rather a different approach to (I think) meet the same end.

The problem with using a list of current day surnames for this purpose is that there are probably very few similarities between the modern surname distribution and the 18th or 19th century distribution.

One thing you could do is use a FamilySearch database to generate a list of surnames. For example, I selected Germany Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898. If you search this database only entering the birth place as "Billigheim" and restricting it to a decade, say 1710-1720, you will get about 820 results. If you are logged into FamilySearch with a free account, you have the option of exporting the results to a spreadsheet:

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You can only export up to 75 records at a time, so you would need to do it about 11 times to export all those records from that search, but it does not take long. Once you have all the records in one spreadsheet, you can use an Excel function to extract all the surname fields, and then remove all the duplicates. The most common surnames or spellings will appear multiple times of course.

This is not perfect because there will be transcription errors, but even so I think you would get a more useful database of contemporary surnames to aid with your transcription and interpretation of names.

  • Err... Just noticed I said 18th century I meant 19th century. I am going to be changing that now sorry. – Mike Jan 13 '16 at 18:02
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    @Mike You can still do a similar thing just change the date range. For the 19th century you might alternatively look at a census database or similar. Either way, my point is that using a list of surnames from a time period closer to your record set will likely be most helpful. – Harry Vervet Jan 13 '16 at 18:10
  • I was unaware that there was an indexed census in Baden in the 19th century or are you referring to a 20th century census? – Mike Jan 13 '16 at 18:15
  • @Mike I wasn't referring to any census specifically. I just know there are some German 19th century censuses, but I'm sure you're more familiar with what's available than me. You can look on FamilySearch to see if there are any other indexed databases that might work for this area and timeframe. – Harry Vervet Jan 13 '16 at 18:20

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