How many different last names did I find while doing my One Place Study of Colle Sannita, Italy? That's what one blog reader wanted to know. I had no idea.
Create the List of Names
Let's launch Family Tree Analyzer and open a GEDCOM file. My latest GEDCOM file has 57,620 people, mostly from Italy.
|With Grandpa's entire town in my family tree, what can I learn about all those last names?|
After trying a few options, I decided to export the list of all individuals to a spreadsheet. First I sorted the individuals by place of birth. Then I deleted all the rows for people born outside of my 7 ancestral hometowns. My Italian hometowns are:
- Colle Sannita
- Pesco Sannita
- Sant'Angelo a Cupolo
- Santa Paolina
Divide the Names by Town
I added 7 tabs to my Excel file, one for each town. As I sifted through the places of birth, I moved people from my 7 towns onto the appropriate spreadsheet tab.
There are tons of people in my family tree without a known birthplace. These are generally people born before their town kept vital records. If I know their place of death, and their last name comes from the town, I moved them to that town's tab.
I wound up tossing more than 11,000 people because I have no proof of their place of birth or death.
By the way, if someone has an easier way to tally the last names in your family tree by town, let me know!
Analyze the Data
Next, I sorted the names on the 7 town tabs alphabetically and deleted all the columns except Surname. Then I clicked "Analyze Data" on the right side of Excel's Home tab. Excel offered different ways to see the data and display the results.
This gave me exactly the results I wanted. My family tree contains 260 distinct last names from Colle Sannita. Also, there are more people named Martuccio than any other name. That's ironic since only 5 of my direct ancestors are Martuccios.
|Excel comes through like a champ, offering analysis of your family tree.|
If it's hard to believe I found 260 last names in one small town, and 310 in another, there's a reason for that. According to an article by Silvia Donati on ItalyMagazine.com, Italy has more last names than any other country in Europe. (See https://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/interesting-history-italian-last-names.)
In my ancestral hometowns, people with the same last name are most likely related somehow. This is especially true when families lived in the same town for many centuries.
Visualize the Data
As a companion to the Excel data, I created a word cloud of Colle Sannita last names. I simply pasted my list of names into wordclouds.com, choosing the map of Italy as a shape. But as you can see, it didn't make Martuccio bigger than the other names.
How many names from your ancestral hometown are in your family tree?