Sunday, June 8, 2008

What's in a Name? Your Name in History

Psssst, Hey you, Mr. Gullible: Wanna buy your name in history. Why spend a lifetime studying your genealogy when can provide you with a book on your name in history for only $29.95.

The collage above shows four different book covers which describe the history of a few of the unique surnames in my pedigree. The books are available at How unique are these particular surnames? Well, as a measure of uniqueness, I searched the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) at (which is partnered with and obtained the numbers of deceased person for each surname and added the numbers to the collage. Click on the image for a better view. For example, there are only 51 deceased persons in the huge SSDI database (currently 81.5 million names) with a surname of Hohnke. There were only 2 persons named Hohnka (ending with "a"), and both are members of my Family as described in the previous entry.

All 27 Gailliot persons in the SSDI are members of my collective Family. At the SSDI on, one can add a "postem" note which can include additional information for any individual in the database. Just think how informative this database would become if users would post a genealogical postem note for each one of their own family members.

An observation: About eight years ago, in the year 2000, there were 36 Hohnke individuals in the SSDI compared to 51 persons at present in this continuously updated and growing database.

Each book in the series entitled, [your name] in History, is published "On Demand" by and is sold by where I obtained the images of these book covers. The artistic, almost antique-looking, covers show the surname superimposed on a genealogically-themed background of the Statue of Liberty, vintage maps, and immigrants arriving at Ellis Island.

The Product Description at Amazon stated:
"The [your name] in History is a customized book offering a unique blend of fascinating facts, statistics, and commentary ... compiled from hundreds of millions of records from the world's largest online resource ... You may discover the countries and ports they left behind, the ships they sailed and more ... and where they reside today ... check out our collection of nearly 300,000 family name books."

You can see the complete description for the Gailliot book here. Just for fun, in the "books" search bar at the top of the web site, type in "History" and your surname of interest. Sorry Kerbitz, you surname draws a blank.

The Description at Amazon does not claim that any of these books are a genuine GENEALOGY- which I suppose is good for those of us who spend hundreds of hours on genealogical research- ironically, often perusing the multiple databases at And I wouldn't mind having a book of my surname if the price drops to about a third of the current retail price. Perhaps a used copy will be become available at Amazon or eBay, but it is not likely since my name is not Smith.

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