Last month on the APG Members Only List, a colleague shared a link to this video, Surname Extinction: When will we all be "Smiths"?
It is an interesting thing to think about … As diversity in surnames disappears, it adds to our research challenges on many levels – separating out like-named individuals, losing the history of particular surnames/families and more.
I have often shared about my Finnish ancestors where Kujanpää1 became Acey. The thing is, that this name changed occurred in the U.S. upon emigration. Only sisters of the emigrant emigrated also (and so they bore the names of their spouses; the other brothers remained in Finland) and the emigrant had one son and three daughters. Long story short, the one son, had one son, who also had one son and that son had only daughters! So, with the current generation, the surname Acey, for our family, becomes extinct.
I have also researched client projects where you can clearly see that whole generations of family members didn’t marry and/or married and didn’t have issue (aka children). So, where a tree was large at one point, trying to identify living descendants is almost problematic.
Have any surnames in your family become extinct, at least as far as your direct ancestral line is concerned?
Do you think that surnames will continue to become extinct? Will we all become Smiths?
1 Currently there are about 898 people with this surname in the world, not surprisingly, most of them are in Finland, http://forebears.io/surnames/kujanpää. Similarly there are about 909 people with the Acey surname, http://forebears.io/surnames/acey.
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