Message Forum

go to bottom 
  Post Message
    Prior Page
Next Page      

07/31/23 11:14 AM #425    


Charlotte Adelman (Paliani)

I'm in ocean park on the Long Beach peninsula 

08/01/23 12:38 PM #426    

Diane Hinesley (Malone)

Thanks,I have been to that area many times. The Long Beach Kite Fest last year was great fun.

09/04/23 09:02 PM #427    


Michael McCarroll

Reflections for CKM '63:  We lived our late twenties in the early seventies, building on hopes and dreams for our future.  Now we are in our late seventies in the early twenties, contemplating the past only with hopes and dreams for future generations.  Humbly submitted - Mike McCarroll 

09/19/23 09:33 AM #428    


Barbara Alexander

Hello McClatchy Alumni. Our reunion was a great success thanks to all of the attendees and especially the committee who worked so hard to put it together. I really enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces (the name tags helped) some I've known since it's grade at Crocker Elementary. It was and exciting and heartwarming day. Take care of yourselves, Barbara

10/15/23 05:38 AM #429    


Bill Kelso

                           Posting on the McClatchy Website

After the reunion last month, I was just thinking of all of our classmates who normally attend reunions who were no longer with us. They ranged from Mike Bungay to Diana Doupe to Karen Elliott to Kristen Otto and Ron Marquardt.

That point became even more significant when I recently exchanged letters with Bonnie Stormont who told me that the Alumni Association was maybe going to hold reunions every two years rather than every five years. I guess the feeling is that if we wait five years, there may not be that many of us still around to attend a get together.

In light of the fact that our time may be short, and that the number of our classmates shrinks every year, I thought I would try to write a post about the makeup of our class. Before we passed away maybe people would want to know who we were and where we came from.

In the past week to ten days, I tried to look at the ethnic backgrounds of our class. But as soon as I finished the article and was going to post it, the world was turned upside by the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas. The massacre of so many innocent people, especially young people at a concert in Israel who were probably the same age we were when we graduated from McClatchy, was so difficult to watch that I stopped looking at the news.

Given the severity of the world situation and the steady drumbeat of ominous news about foreign affairs, I decided to not post my article as it seemed too superficial and trivial. 

However, the more I thought about the issue, the more I thought that maybe a feature about our class might lift the doom that seem to have engulfed the world. Perhaps a post about the people we grew up with would give our classmates a chance to read something that would distract them from all the violence in the world. In place of reading about foreign affairs, we would have a change to recall pleasant memories about our high school days and in the process maybe learn something about our classmates that we did not know before.



10/15/23 05:48 AM #430    


Bill Kelso


          The McClatchy Class of 1963:  Who We Are

Over the past year we have looked at how the world has changed since we graduated from high school. While we have examined both changes in domestic as well as foreign affairs, our class might find it an interesting change of pace to look at the ethnic background of our classmates. Instead of focusing on what has changed since high school, it might be intriguing to also ask who we are. Rather than asking where we are going, maybe should ask where we have come from. In the process we might discover how little we actually knew about both the people we grew up with as well as our own ethnic makeup.

                             Four Reason for Learning about Our Heritage

I am raising this issue for four specific reasons. First of all, in this post I want to show that historically our experience in attending McClatchy was probably radically different from the experience of people living in ethnically more diverse cities like New York, Philadelphia or Chicago, While we did not realize it, our high school experience was probably unique in how we visualized and interacted with our classmates.

Secondly after looking at the ethnic makeup of our class we can also finally draw a profile of our class and see to what extent our class mirrored society at large. Even though we grew up with many of our classmates, we may never have asked if our class was unique or special in any way. 

Thirdly, we can even speculate what the McClatchy class of 2063 will look like in the future.. As we shall see the students who will attend our high school by the turn of the century may  look very different from the people who constituted the graduating class of 1963.

Fourthly, for personal reasons I also wanted to look at our ethnic background because for the longest time I never knew much about the ethnic history or even the national makeup of my own family. It was not until I graduated from high school and later when I turned 30, that I became fully aware that on my father’s side we were Scotch Irish while on my mother’s side we were Irish Catholic as my grandfather had immigrated from Ireland to American in 1914. 

Hopefully all four of the above topics will be of interest to our class. But more importantly, the most satisfying part of looking at the nature of our surnames, is that it may help us gain a better insight into our own family history. 

For instance, when I was young, I always enjoyed listening to my grandfather talk about living on his farm in Ireland. My grandfather, like many Irishmen, was a great story teller and kept me entertained.  But to be honest I was never quite sure what Ireland was or where it was located. Because my family as well as my grandparents never had a globe or a map in our house, I was unaware that it was a distinct country.

                          1) First I Finally Realized I was Ethnically Irish

However by the 8th grade I finally realized that Ireland was a topic of major concern to my grandfather. The key event that changed my whole outlook came one day when the whole family had gathered for dinner. Before we settled in my grandfather was watching the tv from the dining room table when the tv news anchor announced that John Kennedy was going to run for President and had a good chance of winning. 

As soon as the tv reporter finished his announcement, my grandfather started shouting that “They were no longer going to keep us down and we were finally going to win.” Since I was sitting at the far end of the table, I grabbed my mother’s arm and said “We’re oppressed, Who are We?” My mother replied “Catholic and Irish.” When I pointed to my all my Catholic relatives, I said “Aren’t most people Catholic?” my mother replied, “Not at all.”

In the following months my brother, sister and I finally started asking my grandfather about his experience in America. While he generally like to talk about growing up on a farm in Ireland, he rarely talked about his experience in America. 

But after prodding from his grandchildren, he told us that because he had no future in Ireland, one day, without telling his parents, he left home and traveled to the coast to board a ship to the US. After working several months to afford a ticket to his new home, he arrived in America when he was 19 and settled in New York where he lived in Hell’s Kitchen on the upper west side of Manhattan, just south of Central Park. 

My sister wanted to know why he lived in such a dangerous place. He pointed out that if an Irishman found himself in the wrong ethnic neighborhood, he could expect a violent reception from members of an opposing ethnic group. In mid 20th century America just about all neighboods were ethnic neighborhoods and the Irish, Italians, Blacks and Jews all knew it was dangerous to be caught in the wrong neighborhood. Even then Irish gangs often preyed on new newcomers intimidating them to fork over part of any wages they earned in New York.

Besides having restricted living options, my grandfather also had limited job opportunities. Since he had little or no education, he was a day laborer in New York city. 

To better his economic situation he moved to Texas to work in the oil fields. But the Ku Klux Klan, who were hostile to African Americans as well as Irish Catholics, were active in Texas and they hassled and tried to intimidate him at work. After realizing that he had no future in Texas, he left for San Francisco where he heard there were plenty of jobs for working men. But unfortunately, my grandfather said at that time there were many businesses that had signs in their windows saying “No Irish Allowed.” He eventually settled in a Irish ghetto which was south of Market Street and was forced to be a day laborer again. 

However, as he got older, he found a full time job as a janitor at a car dealership in downtown SF and with his Social Security check, he was able to retire on a modest pension.

                   2)Second, The Unique Nature of McClatchy & Sacramento

But if my grandfather’s experience in America made my curious about my ethnic identity, his comments about our classmates also made me realize how different our experiences at McClatchy were from those of our grandparents as well as other high schools in cities with large immigrant populations. 

The precipitating event that triggered this recognition occurred after our high school graduation. My grandfather, who was staying with us in Sacramento, was looking through our McClatchy yearbook, and he commented to me that I had gone to school with a lot of other Irish kids.  I remember I said, “How do you know that?” He replied, “I can tell by their Irish names.” “He then said, “Don’t you know who the other Irish kids are in your high school and whose names are Gallic?” I told him I hadn’t the slightest clue.

My grandfather, however, who was very conscious of who was Irish, naturally knew all the Gallic names in our school because he thought of himself as an Irish America rather than just an American. 

I quickly realized that l lived in a very different world from that of my grandfather and that my experience at McClatchy was probably historically unique reflecting the unusual nature of life in Sacramento after WWII. 

                                    The Idea of a Melting Pot

           How People lost their Ethnic Identity and became Americans 

Our McClatchy class is a result of what sociologists call the “Melting Pot”. While it took many years, by the third or fourth generation the Irish, and other ethnic groups, started to intermarry with one another, blurring their ethnic identity.  Eventually their children came to think of themselves as just average Americans who lived in uneventful. places like Land Park, or the Riverside area rather than distinctively ethnic neighborhood like Hell’s Kitchen or Bensonhurst, a sprawling Italian area in New York City. In the process, their off springs often forgot or became unaware of their ethnic heritage. And that was certainly true in my case. Of if our classmates were aware of their ethnic background, they, like me, often knew little of their grandparent’s heritage nor recognized the surnames of their relative’s original country.

                            A View of Ethnic America in DeNiro’s Movie The Bronx Tales

In this sense our class grew up in an atmosphere that was radically different from how our grandparents or great grandparents probably lived. Even more important our class probably interacted with our peers in a very different manner from high school seniors who grew up in more diverse and ethnically organized cities like New York or Chicago. In those more heterogeneous cities, people in the 1960s lived in neighborhoods that were patently Irish, or Italian or Jewish or German. Probably in the 1950s and 60s when we were in high school, kids in much larger cities were more likely to hang out with other members of the same ethnic group. If you want to get a feel for how New York or Chicago differed from Sacramento, watch Robert Dinero’s excellent move “Bronx Tales” which is a coming of age study of high school kids living in ethnic Italian neighborhood. In our high school we had very dissimilar experiences as most of us neither knew our own ethnic heritage nor that of our classmates and certainly had no idea if our classmates had a German, English or Irish surname. 

In contrast to cities in the Midwest and east, in Sacramento the intermarriage of different ethnic groups that characterized the Melting Pot occurred much earlier in our rather homogeneous city. Only perhaps 20 years after we graduated from high school, did most other public schools in America reflect the loss of ethnic identities that was so true of our high school in the early 1960s. 

                        3. Third, Drawing a Profile of our McClatchy Class

To gain a fuller picture of our graduating class, I will try to post the surnames of different ethnic groups later this week. Now admittedly surnames are an imperfect measure of people’s ethnic identity because of the influence of the melting pot. While a person could have an Irish surname, they might at best have only 25% to 50% of their genes from Ireland. 

Despite these shortcomings, our surnames will enable us to draw a tentative ethnic or racial profile of our classmates. While the picture will admittedly be incomplete, we should be able to achieve our third goals by drawing a semi accurate profile of the McClatchy class of 1963 in the next week or so and compare it with other high schools in the country. As we shall see some ethnic groups are surprisingly overrepresented in our class while yet other ethnic groups are heavily underrepresented.

          4. Fourth, Predicting the Makeup of McClatchy in 2063

Finally, while a profile of our class will be interesting, we should be aware that future classes of our high school will look very different from our class of 1963.  In studying the ethnic backgrounds of our classmates, we can achieve our fourth and final objective and speculate what the future will hold for our high school. As even a cursory look at census projections indicates, it is obvious that the McClatchy class of 2063 will consist of an alternative mix of ethnic and racial groups.

A Biracial Society

When we attended McClatchy in 1963, America was basically a biracial society as white Europeans descendants were close to 85% of the population and African Americans were around 10%. Because of more liberal immigration laws as well as the growing tendency of either white married women to abstain from having children or of the decision of younger white women to avoid marriage altogether, the percentage of Caucasians in American society is rapidly declining. 

A Multi Racial Society

Just as the makeup of the world’s population has dramatically changed over the past 100 years, a similar but less dramatic process of change is occurring in America. As we mentioned in a previous post, while the white population from Europe has declined from around 35% of the world’s population in the 15th century to under 10% today, the world’s Asian population had grown from around 50% to close to 60%. The change in America’s demographic profile partly mirrors that of the world.  For example, while Asian Americans constituted only .6% off one percent of the American population in 1963, today they make up over 7% of the population and are expected to be 9% in twenty to twenty five years. Similarly in 1960s Hispanics were only around 4% to 5% of the population while today they constitute 18% of the American population. Predictions are that the Hispanic population will expand to roughly 25% or even 30% of the American population within several decades. Even the American Indian population, which was less than .4% of one percent in 1960, today constitute 2.6% of the American population as their population surged after the 1970s. While most predictions estimate that the Black population will remain at roughly14%, Americans of European descent will probably decline to around 47% of the nation’s population by the turn of the century.

A Multi Racial and Multi Ethnic Society

As the above data indicates, it is very clear that America is moving from a biracial society made up of former white ethnics and African Americans, to a multi racial society. But equally importantly, the growing racial diversity of American society is at the same time matched by the growing ethnic diversity within each racial grouping. The one exception, as we described earlier, is the decline of ethnic groups among the white population. But if we look at the three other ethnic groups, they have become much more diverse over the last 40 years. 

For instance, while Mexican Americans today are the largest Hispanic population in America, over 40% are increasingly from a variety of other countries in South and Central American. Similarly, while Asians once consisted of only Chinese and Japanese Americans today, today the Asian community is made up of six major Asian populations and several smaller Asian Communities. Even among African Americans, while the vast majority are locally born, over 10% of the population are from Caribbean nations. In a few states like New York and Florida Caribbean Africans even outnumber American born blacks who observe their own unique culture.

A Muti Racial Society with Multiple Interracial Marriages.

Besides becoming a Multi Racial and Multiethnic Society, the US is also becoming a society in which a large number of Multi Racial or Interracial Marriages are occurring. For instance, while fewer than 1% of weddings in 1960s were muti racial in nature, today they make up 11% of all marriages. While in the 1960s Gallup found that 80% of Americans opposed interracial marriages, today Gallup finds that 80% of Americans either approve or do not object to interracial marriages. 

As the country evolves from a nation where 85% of all of its citizens were one race to a nation of four distinct significant ethnic groups, the marriage choices of its citizens are bound to change. If all potential mates are basically of one race, there will naturally be little or no interracial marriage. But if dating and marriage involves selecting a mate from four distinct groups, none of which constitute of majority of Americans, marriage decisions will naturally change.  As the citizenry becomes more racially diverse, marriage patterns are likely to become equally diverse.

These changes in marriage patterns suggest that the issue of race may have to be rethought in the future. If the number of interracial marriages continue to climb to say 20 or 25 percentage of all marriages, the US may have to reconsider how it identifies people’s racial makeup. For instances in several Latin American countries they have four different terms to identify people with ancestors from Africa. Depending on how white or dark you skin is, you are assigned a different race. Of those four terms one was mulatto a term many American might be familiar with.  

But the problem becomes more complex if interracial marriages involve more than just white and black marriage. As an example, consider the case of Tiger Woods, who is part Black, Asian, Caucasian and Indian (Cherokee). The interesting questions is what racial term do you use to describe somebody with such a varied ethnic background? Tiger’s answer was that we needed to invent new names to described people like him and he coined the term” Cablinasian” as a possible name for his mixed race. To some extent this decision appears to be the approach of the Census bureau who will soon allow people to identify as more than one race. Perhaps in the future they may be able to create their own racial identity. In any case, racial patterns will become so complex, that it will be hard to come up with a satisfactory description of America’s ethnic makeup.

To understand why that might occur, we need to remember that the process of the Melting Pot blurred ethnic differences among the white European descendants of Americans in the post WWII period. It is thus possible that a second version of the Melting Pot may soon start blurring the racial difference in the country by the end of the 21st century. If that process occurs, all traditional racial categories may seem inadequate to describe the ethnic makeup of America.

Today of the roughly 200 countries in the world Brazil is probably the most racially diverse nation in the planet as the vast majority of its citizens have ancestors from at least 3 continents, European, Africa and American Indian. If Brazil today has become the first multi racial nation in the world, it is very possible that America may become the second multi racial society. But, unlike Brazil, our future multi racial society may have citizens with ancestors from four rather than three continents: Europe, Africa, Asian and America (Indian, Hispanics or Mestizos). 

                  How My Grandfather Was Rights about Our Class

After looking at a profile of our current and future McClatchy graduation class, we can finally return to the observation my grandfather made after looking at our yearbook in 1963. He was definitely right that I had attended high school with many kids who had Irish surnames. As a partial list they ranged from Patty Dillion, to Mary Doyle, to Carol Gee, to Steve Kelly and Waynette Casey to all of our classmates whose last names begin with Mc including Janice McClure, Patty McCrillis, Bill McCampbell, Michael McCaroll and Walt McMillan to name just a few. Now some of these names could be Scotch Irish rather than Irish Catholic, but from the above list it is clear than many of our classmates have some ancestral link to Ireland. Ironically my grandfather, who never met a single member of our high school class, knew more about the ethnic identity of our classmates than I did who grew up with many of the above individuals.

PS.           I want to apologize to all our classmates who belong to ethnic groups that I did not analyze their  surnames. The reason for my failure to be comprehensive, is that it takes forever to compile these lists. Because trying to identify different ethnic surnames is incredibly time consuming, I finally just ran out of time and energy. In addition, even within ethnic groups I often failed to mention every classmate from that ethnic group. Unfortunately, there were just too many names to recognize the meaning of everybody’s last name.


10/15/23 06:06 AM #431    


Bill Kelso


                What is the Ethnic Background of our McClatchy Class

                                     The History of Surnames

A Surname literally means a name that is above your personal name.

Despite the significance and benefits of surnames, humans have not always had surnames. But when Europeans started using surnames, the practice varied from one country to the next. 

                           The Possible Sources of Surnames.

Historically there has been five main sources for the surnames we presently find in the west and Asia. 

A. The 5 Major Sources of Surnames

1.Patronymic Surnames which means you are the son of someone: 

(Pronounced as Pa trah ni mick) Examples: 

a. Gomez                               Son or Daughter of Gom

b. Di Angelis                           Son of Daughter of Angelis

c. McClure                              Son or Daughter of Clure

d. Olson                                 Son or Daughter of Ol

2.Occupational Surname: Examples:

 a. Counter is an accountant or treasurer in the Middle Ages.

         b. Fuller is a person who works on wool to make it thicker

         c. Hooper a person who make hoops for barrels.

        d. Miller is a person who owns or operate a Mill.

3.Habitation and Topographical Surnames

       1) Habitation.  A place you are from. Example:

       a.Kissinger from an area named Kissing in Bavaria

       2) Topographical Features. A prominent feature of your home landscape.

       a. Berg refers to a mountain, hill or cliff             

       b. Craig refers to a rocky hill.

       c. Holt refers to an area with trees or a forest.

       d. Rodda refers to a clearing in the woods.

     4. Physical Characteristic Surnames. For example,

        a. Armstrong refers to someone who is strong. 

    b. Doyle refers to Dark Stranger. 

      c. Grant refers to somebody who is tall

      d. Klein refers to someone who is small. 

  1. Items Surnames

       a. Names of Animals. Example Wolf, The surname of the producer of the Law and Order 

        b. Ornamental names. Example: Roth means Red 

        c. Seasons. Example: Winter means one of the four seasons

The Possible Sources of Surnames in More Detail

(1) Surnames that are Patronymic Names

These are the oldest and most common type of surname, These surnames indicate that you are the son of someone. 

  1. Add a Prefix. 

The following nations usually attached a prefix to a name to indicate son of: 1) Scotch, 2) Irish, 3) Italians 4) Arabs 

1) Scotch and Irish: Fitz, Mac, Mc, and O

In the Irish and Scottish languages, they often uses a prefix such as Mac or Mc to designate son of. Generally but not always Mac means you have a Scottish name while Mc means you have an Irish or Scotch Irish name. But that rule does not always hold and some Scottish people will use Mc and some Irish will use Mac. When the Normans invaded Ireland and Scotland they substituted Fitz for Mc or Mac.

You can also recognize that Mc or Mac means son of in that the second part of the surname is usually but not always capitalized so MacDonalds always has the Donald capitalized. The same is true of most surnames 

Fitzgerald                     Norman Irish Patronymic Surname

MacDonald                   Scottish Patronymic Surname

McCarthy                     Irish Patronymic Surname

In addition the Irish often use the letter O rather than Mc. In this case O means grandson as in O’ Reilly.

O’Reilly                       Grandson of Riley

However, in Scotland there is a difference in how people are named between the highland and the low lands of the country. While the Highlands speak Gallic, the ancient language of the Celtic people, wear kilts and play bagpipes, the lowlands of Scotland use English, don’t wear kilts and played the fiddle and guitar rather than bagpipes. While Scotland was one country, it had two very distinct subculture with different surname procedures, 

While almost all highland Scotch use Mac to designate son, the Lowlands of Scotland often imitate the England and rely on a suffix rather than the prefix Mac. 

2)The Italians. Di. The Italian Di or De is the Italian equivalent of the Irish and Scottish Mc and Mac.

While the Scotch rely on Mac the Italians rely on Di or De to designate son of. Famous examples would be Joe DiMaggio or son of Maggio or DeSantis which means son of Santis.

De Angells           A famous McClatchy classmate

DeBartolo.           The former owner of the SF 49s Football team.

De Blasio             Former  Mayor of New York

Di Caprio             The famous actor from the movie Titanic

DiMaggio              One of the most famous Baseball players.

Di Niro                  A famous Actor

DeSantis              The Governor of Florida

3) The Arabs.  Bin or Ibin 

Like the Irish, Scottish, and Italians, the Arabs attach a prefix to a name to indicate son of. The two forms are Bin or s Ibn 

In Arabic both Ibn and Bin can be translated as son of.

Everyone probably knows the mastermind of the Twin Towers attack was Osama Bin Laden which means Osama, son of Laden.  However, depending on where the name in a sentence is placed the Arabs will use Ibn rather than Bin.  If the word appears in the middle of a sentence they write Bin. If the name is at the beginning of a sentence it is written as Ibn 

Bin Lauden                                    Son of Lauden

        ii.Add a Suffix.

In place of adding a Prefix the following countries add a suffix to indicate that you are the son of someone. They include 1) Scandinavians, 2) the British, 3) Lowland Scotch and 4) Hispanics.

1)The Scandinavians.  They add Son or Sen.

Unlike the Irish the Norwegians and Swedes add a suffix to a name like son. 

Anderson                      Son of Ander

Peterson                       Son of Peter

However if the son is spelled Olsen where en replaces on as in Olsen or Hansen of Johansen, then the surname is Danish.

Olsen                            Son of Ole

 2) The English. They use three options. They Either use (a) Son, or secondly abbreviate it to (b)use       the suffix On or thirdly they (c) add the letter S to the surname.

The English as well as the Swedes often use the suffix son as in the English name Wilson or the Swedish name of Olson, 

Dyson                  Son of Dy who makes vacuum cleaners.

Pierson                Son of Piers. Famous CK classmate

Thompson           Son of Thomas. If there is no p then Thomson is usually low land Scottish.

Sometimes they will abbreviate the son and just use the abbreviated suffix on instead of son.  Example:



Finally they may add an S to the Surname to denote son of.


Andrews     As in the famous Andrews Singers of the 1950s and 60s

3) Hispanic Names Add ez.

Spanish speaking countries often attach the ending ez to a surname to designate a family relationship as in the name Hernandez which means son of Hernando and Lopez which means son of Lopez.







2)Surnames that are Occupational Surnames.

 a.For Example, The following are surnames based on Occupations involving either the acquisition of wood or lumber and the shaping pieces of wood or lumber into consumer products such as barrels or wooden wheels.

We go from Sawyer, and Hacker, to Turner and Wright and Carpenter. The first group secured the wood while the Hoopers, Collier and Carpenters made the finished products used by consumers.

Carpenter            Carpenters. A famous sister brother singing act.

Collier                 Provides the charcoal burner supplies for the Smiths and Turners. 

Hooper                Made hoops or staves for Barrels.

Sawyer                Wood Cutter. Provides the wood to the other occupations.                  

Turner                 Worked a Lathe. Make a consumer product out of wood.

Wheeler              Makes Wheels. Mr. Wheeler taught English at CK.

(3) Topographical or Locational Surnames

These are names which refer to a location. They can be of two types.  First they can be a habituation or location a person came from.  Secondly they can be topographical feature which refers to some significant piece of the landscape such as a forest or creek from your original home town.

a. A location or area from where you came.

Agnew                          Someone from a place in Normandy

Epstein                         Someone from a location in Hesse German with pleny of stones

Wallace                         Someone from Wales

b. Topographical Features that were prominent in your original home.   

1)Names designating white cliffs like the White Cliffs of Dover

Kelso                            White Cliffs

2) Names denoting Hills

Ridge                           Top of a Hill

3) Names denoting Trees or Woods or a Forest or alternatively a Clearing in a Forest.

Greenwood                   New Woods or Forest

Harwood                       The Hares’ Wood

Hurst                             A Wooded Hill

Holt                                Holt and Shaw both mean living near the Woods or Forest

Rodda                           A Clearing in a Forest or the possible name of a town.

(4)Surnames that Reflect the Attributes of People. Below are two examples of such surname, one reflecting on your character and the other reflecting on your personal appearance. Or when you appeared in the neighborhood.

1) Reflections on your Behavior

Adelman                      Noble Individual

2) Reflections on your Personal Appearance. The Color of your Hair

For Redheads or those with a ruddy complexion common Surnames are Reed, Russell, Rudge.

Reed                             Red Hair or Ruddy Complexion

Russell                         Red Hair or Ruddy Complexion

Rudge                          Red Hair or Ruddy Complexion

3)Reflections on your Personal Appearance. The Shape or Appearance of your Face.

Beck                            Person with a Beak or Big Nose

Campbell                      Crooked mouth

Kennedy                       Means Grim or Ugly Head. Also may mean Helmeted Head

Sullivan                        Dark Eyed or Hawk Eyed

4) Reflection of your recent arrival in a neighborhoods

Novack                         The new Person in town.

(5) Surnames based on Items in the World

1.Items that Often Serve as a Basis of Surnames: Animals, Heavenly Bodies, Stones often used in Jewelry, or Seasons.

Adler                              Eagle

Celine                            Means Heaven

Stein                              Stone

Winter                           The Name of a Season


10/15/23 07:27 AM #432    


Bill Kelso


     Understanding Surnames as part of Language Families

At times it is confusing to talk about your family surnames.  That confusion arises because sometimes instead of saying you have an Irish surname or a Jewish Surname or a Russian surname, people will say you have a Celtic or German or Slavic surname.  What do people mean when they make those assertations?

It turns out that various national names like Jewish or Irish names are part of larger language families which have similar naming practices. In case you are interested in what language family your last surname belongs, we can briefly identify the six language groups for Europe.

                              In Europe there are six main language groups. 

  1. The Celtic Languages.

The Celts were a people that occupied the western shore of Europe over 2000 thousand years ago. They occupied Spain, France and England. They first come to people’s attention when Julius Caesar attacked them and defeated them in France two thousand years ago, making their territory part of the Roman empire. 

Eventually after the fall of the Roman empire, countries like France and Spain adopted a modified version of the Roman language as their own language. In so doing they created several of the Romance languages that include French, Spanish and Italian. In the process the Celtic languages died out in all of western Europe except for the British Isles. 

However, in Great Britain the Celtics controlled the country and practiced their own special religion which is called Druidism for a prolonged period of time. But once Rome fell, two German tribes the Anglos and Saxons invaded and conquered the land.  Because the south of Great Britain is a low-lying territory, it was relatively easy for the German tribes to defeat the Celtics in that area now known as England. To preserve their identity and language, the Celtics eventually withdrew to the outskirts and mountainous areas of the British Isles. In these separate areas of Great Britain, the once homogeneous Celtic population evolved into three distinct national states. In this more difficult terrain, the new formed Celtic states could hold their own against their Anglo Saxons conquerors and in the process retained their identity as well as the original language. While the Celtic population died out in France and Spain, it survived in the British Isles, 

As a result of this common Celtic heritage, Scottish names, Irish names, Scotch Irish and Welsh names are all very similar.

Because it is a language family, you may be asking yourself why Boston has a pro basketball team called the Celtics. At one time it was a basketball powerhouse with Bill Russell and Bob Cousy. The answer is that Boston has a lot of Irish Catholics who are part of the original Celtics ethnic group. The owner of the of the basketball team named the team after this large ethnic group in the city as a marketing device  to win the support of the local Irish population for pro basketball.

  1. Germanic languages.

If Celtic languages at one time dominated the west Coast of Europe, Germanic languages have dominated northern Europe since the collapse of the Roman empire. The four German languages are 1) the German language itself, 2) Dutch, 3) The Scandinavian Languages and 4) English.

Interestingly enough the name for the country of England and the language we speak English is a modification of the German tribe Anglos which invaded England along with the Saxon tribe after the fall of the Roman empire.

The relations between German names and English names is readily apparent. For instance, in German surnames the suffix mann or man often indicates an occupation or a person’s characteristics. For instance, the name Kaufman indicates a merchant, Zimmerman means a carpenter and Bergman means a miner or mountain man while Adelman means a noble man, a member of the nobility and possibly a high ranking government official.  Because English is a Germanic language, we adopt a similar approach in naming occupations. In America, for instance, we talk of a Fisherman, Postman, Fireman, Policeman, or Chairman. The difference is that in America these terms never became surnames but both languages use the same suffix to indicate an occupation.

  1. Romance languages.

If German languages dominate the north of Europe, Romance languages dominate the southern part of Europe.

Romance languages are languages that grew out of and are modification of the Latin spoken by the Roman Empire.  They include 1) Portuguese 2) Spanish 3) French and 4) Italian. 

Because these languages are derived from Latin, many people want to call Spanish speaking people Latinos. But if Latino is used in that sense, then French and Italian speakers would also have to be called Latinos.  That is why people in Spain argue that Spanish speaking people in America should be called Hispanics.

The above discussion raises the question why we call the countries south of us Latin Americans rather than Hispanic Americans? The answer is because Brazil speaks Portuguese rather than Spanish. To call South American Hispanic would have ignored the languages and culture of Brazil. In recognition of this fact, the Spanish leaders of the countries south of us choose the broader term Latin America to name their continent to reflect the traditions of those speaking Portuguese as well as Spanish. 

4.Uralic Languages.

A fourth language family in Europe is called the Uralic family and consist of the Hungarian, Finnish and Estonian languages. They are called Uralic because they come from the Ural mountains in Russia which is the geographical line that separates Europe from Asia. They along with the Celtic languages are the smallest language families in Europe.

5.The Slavic Languages. They dominate the Eastern Sector of Europe.

The fifth language family is one of the biggest and it is called the Slavic language group. It consists of all of the major languages spoken in the eastern part of Europe. It consists of Polish, Russian, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia and many of the language of the country once known as Yugoslavia. As you can see, several of the eastern European nations even include variation of the word Slavic in their official name such as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. The Slavic languages also gave us the name slave. For most of mankind’s existence people have practiced slavery on every continent on the planet. But there was no generally accepted term to describe this practice. However in the 15th and 16th century the Ottoman Turks started raiding Russian and kidnapping young men to serve in their army.  The practice was so widespread, that people forced against their will into bondage became known as Slavs or slaves.

6. Semitic Languages

The final language family is the Semitic language group which includes a wide range of languages including Hebrew and Arabic. Many Jewish surname will be taken from the Bible which consists of Hebrew and a language called Aramaic. However, because most Jewish people in Europe and America originally migrated from the Middle East and at one point lived in either Germany and Poland or Russia, most of their surnames are either Germanic or Slavic in nature.  

10/15/23 07:36 AM #433    


Bill Kelso


                            How Humans Developed Languages.

If surnames are part of language families, it might be helpful to ask how human beings have tried to talk to one another. As noted below, not all language families are constructed in the same way.  In fact, among all the language families that humans developed in the world, they created four different types of languages to communicate with one another: Those four types involve either 1) clicks, 2) tones, and 3) syllables, either multi syllabic or 4) mono syllabic in nature. As is obviously the case, European languages and American English relies on syllables rather than clicks of tones.

  1. Clicks.

         An interesting question is what were the earliest languages spoken by man?  While there is some       dispute over this issue, probably the very first languages spoken by men involved humans making clicks with their tongue against their teeth. Today in South Africa if you visit a village primarily made up of members of the San tribe also known as the Bushman who speak the Khoisan language you will find them using clicks to communicate with one another. If you ever read about a tribe like the !King cited with an exclamation mark in  front of the name of the tribe, it means you pronounce the first syllable of the name with a click. As is obviously the case, the exclamation mark in front of a tribe thus indicates that  that population speak with clicks. 

         The members of tribes speaking the Khoisan language, noted for its clicks, are probably examples of      some of the earliest living human beings. Being examples of the earliest human, they naturally developed what was probably the first form of human languages. However, in the roughly 150,000 to 200,000 years of modern human evolution, individuals in Asian and Europe developed three alternative type of languages to     communicate with one another. 

  1. Tones. 

For instance, in place of clicks, the Chinese devised tones as a second way of structuring language. Because early languages did not have many sounds, humans in mainland Asia compensated by using variation in tones to express those sounds. In some case they used tones in an absolute sense with high or low tones to distinguish one word from another. That situation is true of some other African tribes. The Chinese, however, developed directional rather than absolute tones to communicate with one another. That means they can take the same sound and vary the         direction of the pitch. In one case the pitch may be ascending which means one word while in another case the same sound will have a descending pitch which conveys a very different idea. Today the main Chinese language, which is mandarin Chinese, has 4 tones but Cantonese, the Chinese language often spoken in Hong Kong, has 7 tones.  In Asia, China and South East Asia are the countries that primarily rely on tonal languages to communicate.

  1.  Multi Syllabic Languages. True of Japan and many European Languages such as German

As an alternative to clicks and tones, people can multiply the number of sounds in a language by stringing together different syllables to express themselves.  For instance, Japanese, in contrast to Chinese as well as Vietnamese, has developed a multi-syllabic language. As is obviously the case, some European countries. like the Japanese, also developed many multi syllabic form of language to  facilitate speaking with one another,   

Generally, if a language has few sounds more of its words will be multi syllabic in nature. As an illustration, in Japan many surnames are long and multisyllabic such as Mitsubishi or Sumitomo and have   four syllabi. However, the most multi syllabic language in the world is  probably the indigenous Polynesian language of Hawaii. In Europe the language that is most notable for having multi syllabic words is easily the German language.

  1. More Mono Syllabic Languages. Primarily English.

In contrast to Japanese and German, many other European languages are more mono syllabic in nature. That is especially true of English which is probably the most mono syllabic language in the world. It is this way because of all the languages in the world, the English language has one of the largest arrays of sounds. Because England was invaded by so many different nationalities it acquired a rich array of sounds from the Celtics, the Romans, the Germans, the Scandinavians and their Vikings cousins to construct our English language. 

You can easily visualize the monosyllabic nature of English if you recall our 2nd grade reader. In our 2nd grade books which were called the Dick and Jane reader, they would have sentences that are incredibly monosyllabic in nature. For instance, a common or typical sentence would have Dick talk to their dog by saying something like “lie down Spot “. In many cases their words had only one or two syllabi or three at most. We also see this in how American given names are very monosyllabic such as Joe, Bill Bob or Ed as opposed to the more multi syllabic German given name such as Wolfgang or Friedrich or Hermann.


10/15/23 08:34 AM #434    


Bill Kelso

                                Irish Surnames 

I. Origins of Names I. When they Adopted surnames

Because the Irish were some of the first ethnic groups to have surnames they started adopting surnames as early as the 11th century.

II.  The Ten most popular Irish Surnames in America

  1. Byrne                  Raven
  2. Doyle                   Means Dark Stranger
  3. Kelly                   Warrior or Fighter
  4. McCarthy            Son of Loving Individual.       
  5. Murphy               Sea Warrior
  6. O’Brian               Grandson of a Noble Individual
  7. O’Connor            Grandson of a Lover of Hounds
  8. Ryan                   Related to Water
  9. Sullivan               Hawk Eye or Dark Eye          
  10. Walsh                  Foreigner or Stranger possible from Wales

III. The Different Ethnic Groups that created Irish Surnames

Irish names are complex as they represent four different groups.

1) The first group are the native Celtic people who constitute the bulk of the Irish Catholics in Irelands today. Most names are derived from this population and thus Celtic surnames are derived from the Gaelic language, the original language of the Irish, Scotch and Welsh people.

2) The second group consist of Scandinavian Viking names. Ireland was basically a rural nation without any cities for over a thousand years. However, when the Vikings started attacking and conquering Ireland in the 8th century, they created most of the Irish cities we know today including Dublin, and Cork. 

Equally significantly the Vikings also altered the physical appearance of the Irish people. Traditionally the Celtic people were originally from eastern Europe  before they migrated to western Europe and most of them had jet black hair. The actor Pierce Bronson is a typical Celtic Irishman. Many of our classmates with Irish surname likewise had or have jet black hair. However, when the Vikings from Norway and Denmark conquered Ireland and intermarried with the local population, many Irishmen acquired brown hair and even blond hair with blue eyes from their northern conquerors. And in a few cases, you even can find red hair Irishmen. The Scandinavians who made up the Vikings thus had an impact on both the surnames as well as the physical appearance of the Irish population.

3) The third group of people to make up the Irish are people we call the Scotch Irish. Because England was always worried that her Catholic enemies in Spain and France might one day strike an alliance with the Irish and thus attack England from the west, England was determined to conquer Ireland in the hopes of removing that threat.  One way they tried to achieve this was to move people from protestant Scotland into Northern Ireland. Their names are similar to local Irish names as both people are Celtics, but Scotch Irish surnames are still distinctive.

4) Finally, the fourth group to influence Ireland and influence her surnames are called Norman or the Anglo Irish. In the 11th century the Normans who were former Vikings who had conquered the west coast of France also invaded England. Ever since then the Normans have ruled England as their kings and queens. Many of these Normans eventually tried to conquer Ireland and, in the process, intermarried with the local Irish. As you can imagine they have their own distinct surnames. For instance, names like Fitzpatrick, or Burke or Dillion or Barrett are Norman Irish names.

Below are the surnames of all of the above groups. However at the end of the outlines, I list some common Norman Irish Names.

IV. Types of Irish Names


2) Occupational

3) Location

4) Physical and Moral Characteristics

5)Item Surnames

V. Irish Names and their Origins

1) Patronymic Surnames

1) O                              O as opposed to Mc means Grandson.

1.O’Neill                           Grandson of a warrior or champion

2) Mac and then Mc      Son of. This is a very common form that many Irish surnames take.

1. MacNamara              Son of the House of the Sea

2. McAlister                  Son of Alasdair

3. McBain                     Three possibilities. It may also be English and refer to a Scottish Irish term for the son                                                         breather of life which may mean he is the son of  a friendly person

4. MacBride                  Son of an Exalted one.

5. McCain                     Son of Cain

6. McCampbell             Campbell is a well known Scottish name  meaning crocked mouth but because there                                            Mc in front of Campbell he may be Irish or Scotch Irish

7. McCarrol                  Son of a warrior

8. McCarthy                  Son of a loving person.

9. McClure                   Since it has Mc it means son of and there are  two possibilities. One is son of the pale one and  the other option is son of the servant of the pilgrims.

10. McCrillis                 Son of someone living in the woods or forest.

11. McGiven                 Son of Given

12. McGraw                 Son of someone who is full of grace or  prosperous

13. McGovern               Son of Govern. 

14. McKenney               Son of a very popular personal Gallic name

15. McKinnis                  Son of Angus

16.  McMillan                Son of a bald person

17. McNamee                Son of hound of Meath                             

18. Fitz                         Son of: the Norman version of Mac. The Normans were French who invaded                                                England in 1066 and then Scotland and Ireland.

19. Fitzgerald                Son of Gerald

20. Fitzsimmons            Son of Simon

21. Ferguson                 Son of Fergus.  This is more of an English type surname

22. Gee                         It can also be English and French. In Gallic It isoften used as McGee which means son of Hugh.

23. Murray                   Also a Scottish name But the Irish version is  probably some derivation of O’Muireadhaigh

2 Occupational Surnames

1. Bell                           Refers to a person who was a Bell ringer. A 

                                    Very popular name in northern Ireland. Also a popular surname in England

2. Buckley                     Herdsman

3. Carroll                      Son of a warrior

4. Clarke                      a modern surname to mean clergy or priest. 

5. Clery or Cleireach     Churchman or clerks

6. Coleman                   Burner of Coal.  Also an English name

7. Cunningham             From Conn which mean a a chief or Leader.

8. Donnell                     King of the world.`

9. Foley                        A Plunder (one who steals good) or a pirate.

10. McGowan               Son of a Smith. Gowan is Irish for Smith

11. Higgins                   Viking

12. Hughes                    A variant of the name Hayes which means fire

13. O’Leary                  Calf Herder or grandson off a calf herder

14. Lynch                     Seafarer or Mariner

15. O’Leary                  A Keeper of Claves or Keys

16. McLoughlin-           A Viking or son of a Viking

17. Murray                   Also Scottish. Lord of the Irish or it may be topographical and refer to sea side of a firth in Scotland

18. O’Neil                     Neil means Champion or Warrior.

19. Regan                     Means the child of the king or little King.

20. Ryan                       A King

21. Steward                  One who supervises the winery

22. Quinn                     A Chief

3) Location  or Topographical Surnames. (This type of name was rare among the Irish)

1. Burke                       Refers to a castle or fortress.

2. Ford                         An Irish name that maybe came from England  to refer to a shallow section of a river. May also come from an Irish name meaning son of the devotee of the saints.

3. Curry                       A Hill Hallow. It is a hill with a low valley next to it. Also the name of a small village in western Ireland

4. Desmond                   From south Munster

5. Graham                    Also maybe Scottish. Refers to a town in a   gravel areas or grey homestead. 

6. Johnston                   Refers to John’s town

7. Ryan                         Besides being a reference to a king some think it refers to water or the ocean

4. Attributes or Characteristic Surnames. Describes a personal trait or an activity one engages in.

In all of the follow names you can add an O to get O’ Carrol or O’ Connor or O’ Dryer which means grandson. Also some names will have an Mc in front of the surname to mean son of.

1. Barrett                      Means bearlike or a warrior. May also be English

2. Boyle                        Involves making a pledge. Actor in the TV series everyone loves Raymond.

3. Brady                       Spirited or perhaps thieving or roguish.The first meaning of Brady best portrays the                                              TV show The Brady Bunch.

4. O’Brien                    Grandson of a high and noble person.

5. Campbell                  Crooked mouth

6. Carroll                      Valorous in battle. Also sharp or pointed

7. Carey                       Means Dark of Black. 

8. Casey                        Vigilant in war, watchful.

9. Cassidy                     Means curly haired. Was a famous singer 

10. Caven                     Born Handsome                     

11. Connor                   Lover of hounds. Include Carrel O’Conner In the Heat of the Night and Donald O’Connor  who was in the movie Singing in the Rain.

12. Daly                        Assemblies Frequently. Powerful Mayor of Chicago

13. Daugherty               Dangerous or obstructive.

14. Delaney                   A mixture of two words meaning defiance.

15. MacDermott            Free from jealousy

16. Dillon.                     Like a Lion. Also means from Leon in France.

17. Doherty                   Grandson of an unlucky or hurtful person

18. Donald                    A powerful Ruler

19. Doyle                      Dark Stranger

20. Duffy                      Dark or black. Famous American actor

21. Dunn                      Means Dark or Brown

22. Farrell                    A man of valor

23. Flanagan                 Means Scarlet or Red

24. Flynn                      Another variant of /Flanagan

25. Gillespie.                 Son of the bishops’ servant

26.Gorman                   Little Blue One

27.Graw or McGraw     Son of a person of grace or prosperity

28. Hayes                      Fire

29. O’Keefe                  Grandson of a gentle person

30. Kelly                       Several possible meanings. 



                                             Bright Headed     

31. Kennedy                 Helmet Headed or misshapen head

32. Lennon                   Lover         

33. Moore                     Majestic

34. Moran                     Great

35. Mulrennan              All names with Mul which means bald usually applied to the monks. Related to                                                      McMillan.

36. Murdock                 Warrior

37. Murphy                  Means Warrior of the Sea. Most poplar name in Ireland

38. Neil                         Champion. Tip O’ Neil was a famous politician. 

39. Nolan                      Famous person

40. O’Shea                    Grandson of a stately person.

41. Sullivan                   Dark Eye

41. Quinn                     Wisdom or chief

42. Regan                     Impulsive

43. Reilly                      Valiant

44. Scully                      A scholar’s descendant

45. O’Shea                    The Esteemed or Majestic One

46. Sullivan                   Little Dark Eyed or hawk eyed

47. Sweeney                  Pleasant

48. Wynne                     Fair or White

5)Item Surnames

a.A animal (Often the Symbol of a Clan) or a Plant

1. Byrne                       A Raven

2.Connor                      Wolf or hound do in Irish

3. Cullen                       a holy plant

4. O’Mahony                Grandson of a Bear Calf.

5. MacNamara              Son of a Hound of the Sea.

b.A Former King or Saint

1. Kavanagh                 Name of an Irish Saint

VI. Norman Irish Names

Cody, Barron, Barrett, Barry, Black, Bonds, Bourke, Britton, Brown, Burke, Bryan, Chambers Claire, Cody, Cooney, Crosbie, Cullen. Cusack Dalton, Darcy, Dillon, Fagan, Field, Fitzgerald, Fitzsimmons, Fleming, Francis, Gibbons, Griffin, Marshall, Martin Morris Morrissey, Nagel, Plunkett, Powers, Prior, Rice, Roach, Russell, Stapleton, Stephens, Talbot, Tyrell, Wade, Walsh, White, Wolfe.

The surnames for tomorrow will be English Surnames



10/16/23 06:13 AM #435    


Bill Kelso

                                       English Surnames

1)Most common English Surnames in the US

  1. Anderson
  2. Brown
  3. Davis
  4. Jackson
  5. Smith
  6. Johnson
  7. Jones
  8. Miller 
  9. Moore 
  10.  Taylor
  11. Thomas
  12. Thompson
  13. Williams
  14. Wilson

The Meaning of English Surnames. 

1.Patronymic Surname 

They Either use (a) Son, or abbreviate it to (b) On or they (c) add the letter S to the surname.

a. Son

In England they have two ways of designating that you are the son of. 

The English as well as the Swedes often use the suffix son as in the English name Wilson or the Swedish name of Olson, Examples:

Allison                 Son of Alexander

Davidson             Son of David

Dyson                  Son of Dy who makes vacuum cleaners.

Dison                   Basketball Coach at CK

Peirson.               Son of Piers. Famous CK classmate

Thompson           Son of Thomas. If there is no p then Thomson is usually low land Scottish.

Wilson                 Son of Wil

b. Sometimes they will abbreviate the son and just use the abbreviated on instead of son as in Dixon.

c. Finally they may add an S to the Surname to denote son of. Examples

Andrews     As in the famous Andrews Singers of the 1950s and 60s

Collins        Son of Collins

Davis          Son of Davi. University of California at Davis

Harris        Son of Harris

Wilkens      Son of Wilke

2. Occupational Surnames

a.Religious Occupations

Bishop                 High ruling Church official.

Dean                   May be derived from a title of a high-ranking Monk who oversaw other monks.                                                                

b. Government or Leadership Surnames

King                    This person worked for the monarchy or acted like a King.

Clerk                   Keeps the records of the government.

c. Generalized Servants

Gill or Hine          All these names mean a general low level  servant. 

d. High Ranking Servants. Since the Normans who came from France invaded and conquered England many of the management jobs come form old French such as Chamberlain,  Butler and Marshall. These positions maintained the feudal manor during the Middle Ages.

Butler                  The Head Servant

Clerk                   Record the transaction of an estate. The third most  popular occupation 

Chamberlain       A person who was often in charge of paying the bills for an aristocratic family. r.

Reeves.                He collects the rent. His name leads to the term sheriff. 

Stewards             The oversaw the household or the estate. They  ranked above the Chamberlain. 

Counter               A Treasurer controlling the counting of  Money

e. Military Occupational Surnames

Archer                         Shoots Bows

Boyer                            Makes bows. 

Bowman                      Makes Bows

Armstrong                    Best fighter

Arrowsmith                  Makes Arrows

Fletcher                        Made iron tipped arrows.

Stringer                        Strings the Bows.

f.  Security Occupations

Yates                   Yates were in charge of gates

Porter                   Also means doorkeeper or gatekeeper

Gates                   Manned the gate to an Estate

Ward                    Gate Keeper

g. Servants who looked after the animals of an aristocrat.

Foreman             They watch the swine. Example: George Foreman 

Haywards            They prevent cattle from breaking into the enclosure of their lord.

Marshall              Looked after the horses. Later became top Military officials.                       

Pinder                 Hunts down stray cattle

h. Occupations Watching the Forest and River

Woods are a scarce resource. Landlords wanted to prevent poachers on their hunting groups.              

Forster                Forster is the most important job protecting the aristocrats land holdings.         

Woodward.          Keep bandits like Robin out of the forest. 

 Parker                A position of privilege in protecting theforest of the landowner.

Rivers.                 Looked after Rivers

Bridges                They look after the bridges.

i. Occupation of Musicians     

Piper                   Bag pipe players

Fiddler                Played the Fiddle

Harper                Harp Players. Valerie Harper appeared in Mary Tyler Moore.

Singer                 Singers.      

j. Typical Laboring Jobs often on your house

Barber                Cut Hair

Chandler             Make Candles.

Coleman              Charcoal Burners or brought coal to the house.

Collier                 Also a Coal Miner or Charcoal Burner

Crocker               Another name for a pottery maker. The most famous Crocker is Davy Crocker        

Lander                 Laundry

Potters                They made Pottery in kilts.

Ropers                 They made Ropes.

Saddlers              Make the Saddles

Smith                  Blacksmiths. Make shoes for horses.

k. Household Building Occupations. Many of these names come from old French rather than English. Thus we say masons instead of stonemen.

Mason                 Build a building. Name of a comedian Jackie 

Glass, Glazer       Put the glass in a building. 

Slater, Tyler        They put tiles on your roofers.

Thatcher             Thatcher of Roofers. A Prime Minster of England                  

l. Farmer             These two names refer to Farmers and related occupations

Fielders               Someone who worked in the fields

Georges               Also German. Means tiller of the soil

m. Foods Preparation Occupations

Bakers                 Baked Bread

Brewer                Made Beer

Butcher               Cut up Meat.

Cook,                   A Chief

Fisher                  They Fish.  

Kitchener            Someone in charge of the Kitchen 

Skinners              They flay the meat to make it tender.

Spencer               In charge of the Wine who dispenses it.

n. Clothes Oriented Jobs

Skinner               Could be a person who skinned the animals.

Tanners                What is tanning, It is  the process of transforming skins and hides into                                  the leather for jackets or other forms of clothes.

 Wool Based Clothing Jobs

First somebody had to make sure the wool was of sufficient quality before a Taylor or Weber tried to sew a new garment. The three names of Wool Tramplers were people who trampled the raw cloth to scour and thicken it.  Why are there three names for this occupation? It all depends on location. Fullers worked in the south and east of England, the Tuckers worked in the West and the Walkers worked in the north of England. 

Dyers                  They Dye Cloth.

Fuller                  Wool Tramplers, Makes the wool thicker  

Hoods.                 They Make Hoods

Mill                     At the center of every town was a mill that    became the center for villages of weavers 

Shearer               The cut the cloth for Weaver to assemble.

Taylor                 A Person who Sew Clothes into a finished product. He would take over from a weaver.

Tucker                Also a Wool Trampler.  

Walker                Also a Wool Trampler which makes the wool thicker. 

Webber, Webb.    The variation of Webbers all weave wool into clothes. 

Glover                 Make Gloves.  Actor named Danny Glover

o. Occupations involving Wood or Crates or Carts

We go from Sawyer, Hacker, and Carpenter to Turner and Wright. The first group secured the wood while the Hoopers, Collier and Carpenters made the finished produce.

Barkers               They strip and prepare bark from a tree.

Carpenter            Carpenters. A famous singing brother act act.

Collier                 Provides the charcoal burner supplies for the  Smiths and Turners. 

Coper.                 A Barrel Maker

Hooper                Made hoops or staves for Barrels

Miller.                 A miller or lived near a mill. A miller grinds grain for eventually eating

Sawyer                Wood Cutter.               

Turner.               Worked a Lathe. Make products out of wood              

Wheeler              Makes Wheels. Mr. Wheeler taught English at CK      

Wright                A joiner who joins wood together

p. Shipping Occupations

Carter                          Take the finished goods made by the above occupations to market. 

Packers                        They packed up the goods to be  shipped. 

3. Topographical or Habitation Surnames

The Wealthy who often moved often adopted surnames that indicates where they came from. Also the Normans when they conquered England often adopted surnames describing where n France they originally lived.

Norman                                 Means northern people. 

Suttons                                  People from southern towns

Topographical Locations. 

Sometimes they overlap with occupation names in that mill may mean you work in a mail or live near a mill.  At the same time forest and bridge may mean you oversee the forest and waterway or you live next to the forest and waterway. 

When using their surroundings to create surnames the English people picked common places like hills, creeks, hills ridges, fords and bridges. People were very practical and thus did not mention glorious valleys or sacred trees. But these topographical areas also reflect the national economy. Many of these names reflect the fact that most people were farmers before they picked their surnames. 

a.People often chose names derived from streams.

Beech                           a Stream as well as a beech tree

Bourne, Blackbourn,     All these names refer a location next to a local stream.

Brook and Brock,         You lived near a stream

Ford, Hanford            These two names refer to fords or shallow  areas in a stream. 

b. Names denoting Hills

Ridge                           Top of a hill

c.Woods. Or Forests 

Greenwood                   New Woods or Forest

Harwood                      The Hares’ Wood

Hurst                           A Wooded Hill

Holt                             Holt. Living near the woods

Manley                         A Clearing in the Woods.

Oakley                         Near Oak Trees

Rodda                          A Forest Clearing

Shaw                            A person lives near the woods.

Individual Trees

Ashby                           Ash Tree. Bill Ashby was our classmate

Ashcroft, Asher            All names refer to the Ash tree                 

Birch, Alder                 Birch Tree           

Tash                             Another version of living near Ash Trees.

d. Clearing Land or valleys

Barnett                         A word for burning and clearing land

Beer                             A clearing of a grove of trees  

Bradley                        Living in a valley.

Buckley                        Living in a deer meadow.

e. Names from Valleys rough areas and Vegetation

Rowe                            Living in a rough areas. Name of a pundit, Karl Rowe

Bates                            A pasture. 

Barton                           A large farms

Blackmore                     Refer to a dark swamp

Moss                              A Moss Bog. 

f. All names ending in ton record a farm or village or hamlet

The number of these names tells us that that the English were once farmers and lived in small villages. 

Sutton                              All refer to Hamlets

Or Whittington

4.Characteristics Theories of Surnames

As is obviously the case they physical attribute that lead to surnames can vary. Below are some of the attributes reflected in surnames today, They can range from your physical characteristic to your personal or moral outlook.

a.Physical Traits

1.The Color of your hair or complexion

For Blondes the nicknames are Gold, Bright, Blanchard.

For Brunettes there are Black, Brown and Moors.

Black                                              Dark Complexion                                            

For Redheads common Surnames are Reed, Russell, Rudge.

Reed                                               Red HairI

2,The Shape of your face.

Beck                                              Person with a Beak or Big Nose

B.Moral or Personal or Intellectual Traits

Goodfellow, Goodman,                    These surnames reflect your moral character.

Meek                                                You are a quiet unassuming person.

Pews or Pughs                                 Holy or Pious Person

Gulliver                                             Indicates you are greedy

Penny                                                Could mean you are careless with  money

Bogg and Braggs                              They brag a lot.

Gordon                                              Foolish                                                                                                

Dodd                                                  Lumpish or Stupid. Also can mean  deceiver

Wisely                                                The following names suggest smart 

Keens                                                On the ball

Lowman or Lemon                              A Lover

Friends or Long Term Relationships

Bellamy                                          Long Term Friend

Newman                                         New Person



10/16/23 06:25 AM #436    


Bill Kelso

                          African American Surnames

         The Influence of the English & Irish on African Surnames

I. The Growing Diversity of African American Surnames

The surnames of African Americans have become more diverse over the past fifty years. When we were in junior hi and high school, just about all African Americans were born in America. However, in 1965 the US revised its immigration policy which allowed more people born overseas to settle in the US.  As a result the black population today consists of three distinct ethnic groups.

First, today, in contrast to the early 1960s, 89% of all African Americans were born in the US, while secondly 10% of African Americana today were raised in Caribbean countries, and thirdly 1% grew up in one of the 50 countries of sub Sahara Africa. 

In two states on the east coast, New York and Florida, a majority of the black population are from Caribbean countries rather than locally born. They even tend to live in separate neighborhoods. In the state of New York Harlem is the cultural capitol of American born blacks while Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn is the preferred settlement of individuals from the Caribbean. In Florida, the diverse ethnic groups from the Caribbean are even more spread out as individuals from Jamaica prefer to live in Broward Country and Ft. Lauderdale while Haitians have chosen to live in an area called little Haiti in Dade Country while Spanish speaking Caribbeans have settled in the communities around the city of Miami.

In light of the growing diversity within the black community, there is a comparable growth in the nature of surnames among African Americans. 

II. American Born African Americans

If we look at the surnames of American born African Americans we find that their surnames are primarily English with a scattering of Scottish names. 

a.English Surnames

To illustrate the pervasive nature of English surnames listed below are the most common surname of American born African Americans as well as the surnames of many prominent African American Athletes. They include:

Most Common Surnames         Surnames of Prominent Athletes

Brown                                            Jim Brown

Harris                                            Elgin Baylor

Hill                                                Lebron James

Jackson                                          Willie Mays

Johnson                                          Walter Peyton

Jones                                              Willis Reed          

Lewis                                             Oscar Robertson

Moore                                            Dennis Rodman

Smith                                             Gayle Sayers

Thomas                                          Emmitt Smith





b.The interesting question is why don’t African Americans have African surnames.

The answer is two fold. In Africa at the beginning of the slave trade, it was not common for individuals to have a surname. Even  today in Tanzania old tribal cultures like the Masai still do not give themselves surnames.

But secondly even if an individual did have a surname, the slave owner who had just purchased his new slave just erased his African name and gave him a new name, often his surname which in most cases was English. At the same time to indicate 1) his sense of ownership, the plantation owner would add an s to the last name to show possession such as the above names of Williams, Davis or Thomas. If he did not impose his own surname on those he had acquired, he 2) often gave his new slaves an occupational surname like Taylor tor Fuller to indicate their future jobs on the plantation.

c. Irish Surnames 

In addition to English surnames, a surprising number of well known African American celbrities have Irish surnames. Below is a brief list of well known actors, singers and sport stars with Gallic last names.

Mariah Carey

Stephen Curry

Dizzy Gillespie

Isaac Hayes

Willie McCovey

Eddie Murphy 

But unlike the case of black Americans with English surnames where their slave master dictated their last name, African American with Irish surnames were a result of romantic relationships between the two groups often involving marriage.

The relationship between the Irish and African America reflects the common problems both ethnic groups faced in early 20th century America. 

d. The Problems of Nativism and Jim Crow

From roughly 1840 until the 1930s immigrant groups and Africans confronted the twin problems of nativism as well as segregation. As each ethnic group dealt with its own challenged, blacks in the segregated south and the Irish in large urban communities eventually found themselves living side by side in urban ghettos, which in some cases lead to intimate relationships.

The growing relationship between Black and Irish American is an interesting piece of social history. While the story is long and complex, it is worth at least a brief retelling because it tells us a lot about how American has changed over the last 100 years. 

(1)Nativism and the Irish

When the Irish first arrived in America they precipitated a very hostile reaction from Nativist movements including the Know Nothings in the 19th century and later by the Ku Klux Kan in the 20th century.

The hostility by the Know Nothings was so great they started launching violent attacks on the earliest Irish ghetto in Five Points in south Manhattan just north of the financial district. At that time the main defender of the Irish was the Catholic Church who was led by a charismatic bishop known as Dagger John because he wore a large cross around his neck. 

To stop the attacks on the Irish neighborhoods, he visited the Mayor of New York and in effect threatened to burn down New York if the city did not intervene and stop the violence. To drive home his point, and intimidate the mayor, he transformed the St. Patrick day parade into a march of young Irish men walking past city hall, threatening action if the city did not stop the public attacks. John Scorsese’s movie “The Gangs of New York” partly describes this difficult period in American history.

The threats of Dagger John worked and New York finally created a professional Police Department in 1846 which lead to a significant decline in attacks on Irish neighborhoods. 

But if outside violence started to decline against the Irish, many in society still looked down on them. In terms of social order in society, the Irish were clearly at the bottom of pecking order. Ironically one way that disdain for the Irish manifested itself was that American society did not consider the Irish to be totally white people. 

Today there is a lot of talk about the idea of the white race. But you have to realize that concept is primarily a post World War II idea.  Over the last 120 years the idea of race has gone through three different interpretations. In the 19th century race was interpreted to mean what today we would call ethnicity and it had nothing to do with your skin color. For instance last century people talked about the Irish race, the Italian race or the English race. There was no white race but instead of collection of different ethnic races.

In the 20th century race finally assumes its second identity and is finally associated with skin color, but in contrast to today race was not always considered an absolute trait as people perceived degrees or gradients of race. 

In contrast to America, the Latin Americans were the first to distinguish various degrees of race as they had four names for your skin color. For example in Brazil they distinguish Pardo which is mixed race or multiracial from Preto which is black. In the US in contrast, if a person has any African racial characteristic, however minor, they were classified as black. Ironically enough, while Americans tend to view the black race in absolute terms, they initially viewed the white race as a variable color. 

When most Americans looked at the Irish they considered them only partially white. Depending on the situation the Irish were often called the Black Irish or often White Mulattoes, a Latin American term meaning you were only particularly black. But in the case of the Irish Mulatto it meant they were only partly white. Later when the Italians migrated to America they were also considered only partially white and like the Irish occupied the bottom rung of the social hierarchy. For much of late 19th and early 20th century, this view of the Irish and later the Italians persisted until finally these two ethnic groups became so politically powerful in cities like New York or Chicago that the rest of American society finally accepted them. As the Irish and later Italian were finally able to move up the social ladder, we finally evolved our third notion of race in America. which also views race as a matter of skin color. But the key difference today is most individuals see the differences between whites and blacks in absolute terms and rejects the idea of race as a variable trait.

(2)Jim Crow and African Americans

While the Irish were struggling to overcome the attacks by Nativist groups, African American were trying to deal with the creation of a segregated society in the south.  After the civil war, the south did not take its defeat in the civil war as the last word on race relations. If slavery were outlawed, they would create in its place a system of segregation which means that there would be parallel societies in the south with separate stores, restaurants, schools and even drinking fountains for white and black citizens.

This system was called Jim Crow. The interesting question is why is segregation called by this name? Historically during slavery the south had developed a form of entertainment called minstrel shows which tried to show that slaves were happy with slavery. In those shows Jim Crow was a prominent character who seemed happy with the authoritarian lifestyle of southern plantations. 

The character was called Jim Crow because symbolically Crows are black birds and Jim was often the name for a black crowbar.  When the south substituted segregation for slavery, they tried to portray the  average black person as content with his situation in life.

In reality, the recently freed slaves highly resented the new restriction on their freedom. While roughly 95% of all blacks lived in the south during slavery, beginning in 1905, blacks began a mass movement out of thew south and headed north towards cities like New York and Chicago.

When they arrived in the north blacks were incredibly poor and uneducated and faced discrimination just like the Irish. Given their lack of resources the question was where could they live? The cheapest and most readily opportunities were in those very poor areas where the Irish had settled in the decades before hand. One of the most notable new homes for blacks from the south was just north of Hell’s kitchen where the Irish had recently moved to in the early 20th century.

In light of the fact that the Irish and black were both at the bottom of the social scale and were considered to be of the same race, it is easy to understand how they often established personal relations.

But you have to realize in the early 20th century, interracial dating let alone marriage was highly controversial. Even in the 1960s when we were in high school, less than 1% of marriages were interracial marriages and polls indicate that 80% of American disapproved of such relationships. Today, to show how much the US has changed over the past 100 years, one in ten marriages is interracial in nature. Recent polls show that 80% approve or have no difficulties with such racially mixed marriage. Even more interesting if you watch much TV these days you will notice that around 20% of all commercials have mixed racial couples in their ads.

III. Caribbean Born African American Surnames

If English and Irish names are common among American born Blacks, today Caribbean Blacks have added to the diversity of African life in America. 

As you all know the British, French and Spanish colonized this area. As a result Caribbeans from British dominated Islands like Jamaica have English surname, while Caribbeans from French areas like Haiti have French sounding surname. The best example of this phenomenon is President’s Bidens press secretary whose surname is Jean-Pierre. 

Finally Caribbeans Blacks from Spanish areas have Spanish names.

To illustrate this final point, we can look at the names of recent successful black baseball players. When we were students in high school baseball was the national pastime and African American were some of the most dominant players in the game. For example, in the 1960s Willie Mays, and Willie McCovey were two of the most successful baseball players, one with an English surname and the other and Irish surname. 

But in the 60 years since we graduated from high school American born blacks have come to favor playing football and basketball rather than baseball. Today 73% of all pro basketball players and 56% of all pro football players are American born blacks.  The most dominant players today in pro basketball are Lebron James (an English surname) and Stephen Curry (an Irish surname). In contrast the percentage of American born blacks along with their English and Irish surnames who once dominated baseball has declined significantly. In their places has been the rise of Caribbean Hispanic Blacks who today have become  some of the best baseball players in the country. Below is a partial list of some of the most celebrated Caribbean baseball players along with their Spanish surnames.

Orland Cepeda                      Puerto Rico

Rod Carew                            Panama

Robert Clements                    Puerto Rico

Juan Marichal                       Dominican Republic

Mini Minoso                          Cuba          

David Ortiz                           Dominican Republic

IV. African Immigrant Surnames

Finally the last type of Black surname are found among the 1% of the African American population who are recent immigrants from Africa. If you have been following the news about affirmative action in America  over the past year, you have probably been seeing a lot of African surnames as 40% to 50% of African American students enrolled in Ivy League universities are recent immigrants from Africa. 

Unlike most American surname many African surnames are multi syllabic. For instance two countries sending the most immigrants are Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Nigerian Surnames




Ethiopian Surnames





While American born African Americans are likely to have either English, Scottish or Irish Surnames, Caribbean born Africans are like to have either British, French or Spanish surname while African immigrants have unique indigenous surname which are generally multi syllabic in nature

10/16/23 10:21 AM #437    


Steven Lindfeldt (MidTerm)

Bill, thanks for all your hard work and information. An interesting read. Now, here's your next challenge. Tell me about the name Lindfeldt. Here's one clue for you. My grandfather was the only Lindfeldt in his family. Everyone  else was named Lind. I appreciate the memory of the great Giants mentioned, Mays McCovey. Cepeda, Marichal. Always finishing second with the greatest team on earth.



10/16/23 01:21 PM #438    


Bill Kelso

Hey Steve

Nice to hear from you.  I looked up your surname and it appears to be either English or Scandinavian. The reason it can be both is that the Vikings invaded England numerous times and left their impact on the country.

Your surname Lind is probably topographic as it seems to refer to Linden trees which are also called lime trees. People who choose topographical themes for their last names probably had found memories of these trees in their initial homes. Linden trees are very popular in Northern Europe and many cities in in that region line their main streets with this type of tree.

If your grandfather expanded your last name to Lindfeldt, the feldt or some variation of that term is commonly used for a field or meadow. Thus Lindfeldt would be a field next to a bunch of linden trees or a meadow full of linden trees.

In some ways your last name is similar to Bill Ashby’s s last name, which refer to Ash trees. While the plant of name of the tree may vary, many people wanted a last name that remined them of some scenic part of their past. 

Hope that information is useful. Also thanks for reminding me that many of those surnames of famous baseball players originally played for the San Francisco Giants. In fact, I remember when Willie McCovey was an up and combing baseball player, he played against the Sacramento Solons and hit 3 home runs in one Doubleheader. Ah, great memories from the past.




10/17/23 04:51 AM #439    


Bill Kelso

                                             Jewish Surnames

I.Some of the Most Common Jewish Surnames in America




















II. The Origins of Naming. Where did they get their surnames.

For centuries Jewish individuals, as well as most people in the West and in the Bible, had only single names, even though a given name might be followed by a word indicating you were the son of a certain individual. Where and when Jewish individuals began to actually adopt surnames depended on their particular historical circumstance. 

As we shall see the Jewish community eventually split into three separate communities, all of which adopted differing naming procedures. 

For instance in the Middle Ages many Jewish individuals migrated from the Middle East and established new homes western Europe. However, given the religious intensity of the crusades, the countries of Spain and England eventually ended up expelling all of their Jewish residents in the 13thcentury. In their search for a new homeland most Jewish individuals migrated from western Europe to either northern Europe, or southern Europe. 

Those whose went to northern Europe were called Ashkenazi Jews and primarily ended up in Poland. However, when Poland was conquered by Russia and Germany, the Ashkenazi population was split in two with Jewish residents living either in German lands, or the Slavic territories of Poland and Russia. 

In contrast those Jewish individuals who went south from Spain created what were called Sephardic communities while those who remained in the Middle East were called Mizrahi communities.

III. The Origins of Names. How Surnames vary by Location

When Jewish individuals acquired surnames varied depending on whether they were in Ashkenazi, Sephardic or Mizrahi communities.

For instance, Arabic speaking Jews in the Middle East and Sephardic Jews from Spain acquired surnames fairly early on in the Middle Ages such as the 10th and 11th centuries.

However, the Ashkenazi did not get their surnames until the end of the 18th and the start of the 19thcentury. It was only when the emperor of Austria and Napoleon decreed that Jews must adopt definitive family names that German Jews got surnames. Likewise in Russia the Czar took a similar line and ordered all Russian Jews to adopt a last name. 

IV. Origins of Names Their Derivation.

A. Unique Jewish Names

1)Biblical Names

Because of their unique history many Jewish people have chosen biblical names for their last name. In some cases, there may be an ancestral link between an ancient Jewish institution or tribe, and a modern day Jewish family which is expressed in their family surname.

Names have always played an important role in Jewish history. For example, if something dramatically happens to an individual in Jewish biblical history, he or she gets a new name. Below are the two most famous examples of this process.

1 From Abram to Abraham

The first example of the bible conferring a new name is the example of Abram and Abraham, the father of Judaism.  Abraham’s original name was Abram but God changed his name once he accepted a new special relationship between his people and God.

2. From Jacob to Israel

The second most famous example of a new name is when Jacob’s name becomes Israel. But who is Jacob? Jacob and his twin brother Esau were the grandchildren of Abraham and the sons of Isaac the founders of the new religion of Judaism. 

One day Jacob after leaving home is attacked by someone whom he ends up wresting with, an individual that appears to be God.

 In ancient Israel during the Bronze Age a common name for God was the word El. After the above wrestling match, Jacob, like his grandfather, gets a new name which is the word Israel, which literally means one who has wrestled with God. If you look at the letters in the name, the relationship becomes readily apparent. The first letters of the surname Israel or “Israe” mean you are wrestling with someone while the last two letters of the name indicate the name of your opponent. In this case that refers to El which as mentioned above is common Middle Eastern name for God.

But you might ask why was Jacob wrestling with God in the first place? It turns out that Jacob had many ethical issues and was more than willing to deceive others to get his way. The most notable example is that Jacob deceives his father and gets his blessing as the first born son, a high honor in the ancient middle east. In the process he cheats his brother Esau of a birthright that is really his.  God is perhaps wrestling with Jacob because Jacob is not living up to the norms of his religion.

The Popularity of the Name El for God in the Middle East

Besides the Jewish community using El as the name for God, the Arabs also used El in their description for God. But the Arabs insisted on putting the definite article “the” in front of the world God which in Arabic is “ai” which results in God’s name becoming Allah. 

3. Israel

While the popularity of the God named El was evident in the ancient past, why is it still in common use today. For instance, why did the Jewish community, after World War II, decide to name their country after Jacob’s new identity of Israel. The answer is simple. It turns out that Jacob will have 12 sons who will go on to populate the land of Israel as twelve separate tribes. In this sense he is literally the father of the Jewish people.

But even more significantly the name Israel is also a metaphor for the dilemma facing every religious Jewish person. One the one hand the Jewish people believe that God is a powerful and just God who is looking after the well-being of the Jewish people. On the other hand, in real life the Jewish people are constantly being attacked and enslaved by the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians and eventually by the Romans. In trying to reconcile the promise of God and the reality of their actual lives, the Jewish people have to wrestle with God, hence the name Israel.

After WWII, the newly created Jewish nation faced the same dilemma confronting their relatives in the ancient Middle East as they had to reconcile their belief in a just god with the German holocaust. As was the situation in the past, the Jewish people had to wrestled with the conflict between their beliefs and the brutality and violence that characterized the modern world. Their newly name country off Israel symbolized that dilemma,

Names that Reflect Religious Tribes or Positions in ancient Israel.  

5. Levy 

This is another important biblical name as it indicates that your family is descendent from the tribe of Levi, one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Why is the tribe of Levi given such prominence?  The answer is that Levi is the tribe of Moses and his brother Aaron and the members of the Levi tribe were instrumental in establishing and running the Jewish temple. Among other activities, this tribe guarded the temple and produced the priests or Cohens to run the temple.

Variation of the above name include Levi. Lewi, Levin. Levine. The maker of Levi jeans belonged to this priestly tribe of Israel.

6. Cohen.

This name meant you were a descendent from Aaron, the brother of Moses and the high Priest who presided over the Jewish Temple. Today individuals with this name often enjoy distinctions today such as giving the priestly blessing over the torah during religious services.  

Variation of Cohen today are Kohn, Kahn, Kahane, Kagan, Kogan. Since there is no h sound in Russia it has been replaced with a g in the above variants of Cohen such as Kogan or Kagan, the latter name being that of a current member of the Supreme Court.

7. Seagal

Assistant to the High Priest

2)The German Impact on Jewish Ashkenazi Names. I

While some Jewish individuals have chosen biblical names, the vast majority of Jewish people have German names and a smaller percentage Slavic name. That raises the interesting question as to why so many Jewish Individuals have east European names.  As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, the answer unfortunately is tied up with the religious conflict that marked the Middle Ages. 

To briefly recap that discussion, we need to remember that in light of the religious intensity that often accompanied the effort of the Crusades to drive the Muslims out of the Holy Land in the 12thto the 13th century, many western nations became hostile to all non-Christians in Europe. As a result, countries like England and Spain often forced their local Jewish population to leave their homes and seek asylum elsewhere.

In search for a new home the many Jewish individual from western Europe ended up living in Poland whose Kings welcomed them because he thought they would enhance the Polish economy. However, when Germany and Russia later attacked Poland and divided their country between them in the 18th and 19th century, many Jewish people found themselves living in either German controlled or Russian dominated territories.  While historically before Hitler, the Jewish population fared better in Germany than in the Slavic areas of Russia, many Jews preferred to adopt German names even when living in Slavic territories like Russia.  

In light of these historical conditions, there are certain German suffixes or endings of surnames that commonly are found among Jewish people. These German endings usually refers to a thing like a stone or a topographical item such as a village or mountain. Below are 7 of the most common German suffixes adopted by people of Jewish ancestry. 

1.Names ending in berg.                 Berg means hill or mountain or cliff: Example. Weinberg                                                    

2. Names ending in burg                  Names means living near a castle

3. Names ending in baum                 Refers to someone who lives near a notable tree                                                   

4.Names ending in blum                    Means Flower: Example Rosenblum

5.Names ending in feld                     The ending mean field.   Example Seinfeld.                         

6. Names ending in stein.                 Stein means stone. Examples, Goldstein or Einstein

Stein is a German world that can be pronounced as either steen or stein. In German it would be pronounced as stein but in English there is a rule if you have two vowels next to one another, the first does the talking. Thus stein is often pronounced as steen but it can vary from one family to the next, For instance Senator Diane Feinstein relies on the German pronunciation rather than the American whereas Mike Goldstein uses the American pronunciation. 

7.Names ending in thal                      Thal refers to a valley. Example Blumenthal

3) The German Impact on Ashkenazi Surname II

The Key Role Mann plays in many German and German Jewish Names

Besides the above well known suffixes, many German names and German Jewish names end in the word man or mann. But in contrast to the suffixes that we just described above which primarily describe topographical features such as a mountain or valley, the suffix mann identifies either the occupation of a person or his personal traits. 

This tendency of the German language to attach the word man to an occupation is also common in the English language as we talk about a mailman or a congressman or an admirable man. The main difference between the English and German language is that in English we do not use such designations as surnames while the Germans often employ mann or man as part of a person’s surname.

Examples are:                                  What the Surname means

1. Ackermann                                  Ploughman

2. Hoffman                                      Steward

3. Kauffman                                    Merchant

4. Zimmerman                                 Carpenter

5. Edelman                                      Admirable Man

6. Newman                                      New Man

4) The Slavic Influence on Ashkenazi surnames.

While many Jewish names are German in nature, the Slavic language has also influenced the naming practices of Jewish individuals, especially in Eastern Europe in general and Russia or Poland in particular.

The later Russian or Slavic influence  on Jewish names is reflected in surnames ending in vich or witz, or ski or sky. These two very different endings of surnames refer to locations within Eastern Europe. The vich or witz endings refers to the Slavic area of Pomeranian or today’s Gdansk in Poland, The sky and sky endings may also refer to a particular location a persona originally came from.  Thus Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, is from the areas around Zelen.

1.Wich                                            Examples. Berkowicz 

2.Witz                                             Examples Abramowitz or Rabinowitz

3. Ski or Sky. If it is ski it is Polish     Examples. Zelensky. Or Wildavski

BThe Five Traditional Source of most Jewish Surnames

If we now leave aside the impact of the Bible as well the influence of the German and Slavic Languages on Jewish surnames, most Jewish names reflect the five Factors that have traditionally determined the meaning of most surnames.

1) Jewish Names that mean son of or Patronymic Surnames

1. Ben                                             Ben Gurion the father of modern day Israel

2. Berkowicz                                   Son of Berk


2) Occupational Names

1. Ackerman                                    Ploughman

2. Blecher                                        One who worked with tin.

3. Brandwein                                   A distiller of brandy spirits

4. Herzog                                        Means duke or the servant of a duke

5. Hoffman                                      Means a steward or farm laborer

6. Goldstein                                     Perhaps in the gold design business

7. Kaster                                          Manager of a granary

8. Koeniig                                       Means King

9. Kramer                                        A shopkeeper or tradesman 

10. Kreigsman                                  Warrior

11. Mann                                         Generally means person. 

12. Nagel                                         Nail Maker

13. Oberman                                    Means chief and often indicates a rabbi 

14. Portnoy                                      A tailor. Name of a famous novel.

15. Rabinowitz                                 A name meaning son of a Rabbi

16. Rabin                                         Indicating descendants of a rabbi

17. Sack.                                        One who made or sold Sacks.

18. Sandler                                      One who repairs shoes.

19. Sanger                                       Singer

20. Schechter                                   One who slaughtered cattle and sold meat

21. Scherer                                      One who shaved others.            

22. Schmidt                                     Blacksmith

23. Schneider                                   Tailor

24. Schubert                                     A shoemaker or cobbler

25. Schultz                                      A dues collector or a rabbi

26. Schuster                                     Also a shoemaker.

27. Weidman                                   Hunter or wood farmer    

28. Zuckerman                                 A name for one who sells sugar.


3) Locational Surnames

a.Actual Location of a city or region

Many took the names of places or cities such as Halle or Bamberger  

1. Bamberger                                   From Bamberger

2. Dreyfus                                       From the German city of Triet

3. Epstein                                        A city in Hesse that has many stones

4. Frank                                          From Franconia.

5. Halper or Heilbroner                     From the city of Heilbronn in Germany.

6. Heller                                          From Halle a town in Germany.  

7. Spanier                                        One who came from Spain.

8. Shapiro                                        One from Spyer 

9. Pollack                                        One who came from Poland. 


b. Habitat: Distinctive place in nature like a valley with flowers

1.Barton                                          An enclosed field                             

2. Berg                                            Hill or Mountain or Cliff

3. Berger                                         One coming from a hilly place.

4. Bloomberg                                   Flower and Mountains

5. Bloomfield                                   Flower field

6. Blumenthal                                  Flowers in a valley

7. Borg or Burg                                German for being near a fortified castle.

8. Buch                                           German for living near a Beech tree

9. Einstein                                       It means to enclose or surround with stones

10. Feinberg                                    It means a beutifull hill

11. Feldman                                     Someone who lived on land cleared of trees

12. Jablonski                                    Polish for a place with an apple tree

13. Keller                                        Aa cellar or underground room

14.Klein                                          You live on a wedge shaped piece of land.

15. Leitner                                       One who lives on the side of a mountain.

16.Morgenthau                                 A geographical place such as morning                                                                valley.

17. Sachs                                         A memory of persecuted forebearers.

18.Seinfeld                                      His field or Sea Field

19. Steiger                                       Dutch for settler on or near the pier.

20. Stein                                          Mean stone, or rock or glass.


4)  Characteristics or Attributional Surnames

1. Adelman                                      Honorable Man

2. Altman                                        Old man

3. Edelman                                      Like Adelman it means honorable. 

4. Friedman                                     A man of peace. 

5.Greif                                            A person who grasps or snatches.

6. Grossman                                    The big one. Similar to Grant in English

7. Kuhn                                           Brave

8. Kurtz                                           Short

9. Lange                                          The long one.

10. Lieber                                        Lover

11. Liberman                                   Beloved man

12. Meier                                         The scholar man

13. Meyer                                        Means light in Hebrew.

14. Novack                                      Slavic surname meaning newcomer

15. Schoenman                              Beautiful

16. Schwartz                                   Black appearance

17. Shapiro                                      Pretty or Lovely

18. Switzer                                      Pleasant

19. Romer                                       Refers to a a pilgrim 

20. Weiss                                        White appearance

5) Item Surnames

In the past when illiteracy in Europe was still the rule rather than the exception, a house had, instead of a street number, an identifying sign painted and cut in the shape that took a variety of shapes such as a red shield or a fox or a rose tree on its front.  Many Jews simply and somewhat whimsically took as surnames these signs on the house where they lived.  

a.Beautiful things. When the German government forced Jewish people to have surnames, many of them commonly used combinations of of words to describe some attractive or beautiful items such as Goldstein for gold stones or an ideal and beautiful location such as Goldberg which means gold mountain. While the British were very prosaic and often chose common place items for surnames such as trees or wooded areas (Holt), or a clearing in a forest (Rodda), many Jewish individuals argued that if they had to have a surname, it should be a name of some idyllic place or beautiful object.  As a result, Jewish surname that focus on items are often called Ornamental Surnames or surname that reflect some attractive item or location.

1.Bernstein                             Burnt stone

2. Bloom                                Flower

3. Bloomingdale                     Flower dale in which dale mean valley

4. Garfinkle                             Red Stone.  Surname of Art Garfinkle 

5. Goldman                             Probably from a line of goldsmiths. 

6. Goldstein                            Gold stone

7.Goldwater                            Gold with water.

8. Green                                 Refers to the color Green 

9. Newman or Neuberger      The German word for New

10. Rubin                                Behold a Son

11. Rose                                 Roses

12. Rosenberg                        Mountain of Roses. 

13. Rosenblatt                         Rose Paper or Leaf

14. Rothman                           Red Man

15 Rubenstein.                        Ruby Stone

16. Silverstein                         Ornamental name silver stone

17. Stein                                 Glass or stone.  

18. Morgenstern                     From German meaning morning star.

b. Names on Houses

As mentioned earlier, in Austria and German addresses of houses often had signs rather than numbers. When the German government ordered people to take surnames, many Jewish people adopted the sign on their house as their surname. 

1. Rothschild                          Red shield. 

2. Rosenstock                         Rose Tree

3. Strauss                              Ostrich or bouquet or knight crest.



10/17/23 05:05 AM #440    


Bill Kelso

                  German Surnames

  1. Most Common German American Surnames

         Becker                                   Occupation Baker

         Fischer                                  Occupation Fisherman

         Hoffman                                Occupation. Steward

         Kruger                                  Occupation. Innkeeper

         Meyer                                   Self Employed Farmer

         Mulller                                  Occupation. Miller

         Newmann                              New

         Schmidt                                 Occupation Smith

         Schneider                              Occupation Tailor

         Schutz                                   Occupation. Mayor

         Wagner                                 Occupation. Wainwright

         Weber                                   Occupation Weaver

B.Types of Surnames

1)Patronymical Surnames. Very Rare in German Surnames

2)Occupational Surnames

3) Locational Surnames

4)Characteristics or Attributional Surnames

5)Item Surnames

C.How German Surnames are Unique

The Germans are unusual in creating surnames as they rarely create surnames that are patronymic in nature. The only exception is north west German which is close to the Scandinavian lands who overwhelming rely on family ties to name people such as Olson or Anderson or Peterson

More than any other language German surnames are based on occupation followed by geographical surnames, and surnames based on personal characteristics.

Similarly many German names in America have been Americanized to make it easier for people to pronounce it or to make it easier to be assimilated.

D.German surnames

1)German Patronymic Surnames

Rarely used

Thommen                Swiss German Surname that may mean son of:                                     

2) German Occupational Surnames

1.Ackerman              Farmer

2.Bauer                     Peasant or farmer

3. Becker                   Baker

4. Decker                  Roofer

5. Eggers                  Plow Man

6. Eisenhower            Iron Hewer. Hewer means he cuts iron

6. Fischer                  Fisherman

7. Gerber                  Tanner

8. Goldschmidt          Goldsmith   

9. Hoffman                A  Steward or Famer who worked his farm or Hoff

10. Holtzmann           Woodsman

11. Meyer                 A Manorial landlord or self-employed farmer

12. Muller                 Miller

13. Schmidt               Smith

14. Schneider            Tailor

15.. Schultz               Medieval Sheriff or Constable

16. Schutz                 Watchman or Warden

17.Shoemaker            An Anglicized version of Schumacher which means cobbler or shoe.

18. Trump                 German word for Drum or Drum maker. 

19. Wagner               Wainwright (Makes and Repairs Wagons)

20. Weber                 Weaver

21.Ziegler                 Brick or Tilemaker

22. Zimmerman         Carpenter

3) German Sports Figures

1. Lou Gehrig            Topographical Surname

2. Babe Ruth             Characteristic Surname meaning Red

3. Casey Stengel        Topographical Surname

4. Honus Wagner       Occupation name. Made Wagon                  

4)German Territorial or Topographical Surnames

1. Bayer                    Bavarian.

2. Brandt                   Land clear by fire

3. Crites                    Living near the town of Kreitz

4. Kissinger               Someone from Kissing in Bavaria

5.Kohler                   Charcoal

6. Shoenberger.          Shoen means beautiful and berger means hill or mountain

7. Winkel                  Corner

5)German Surnames based on Personal Characteristics

1. Ehrlichman            Honest Man

2. Engel                    Short version of the name Engelbart. Th

3. Gingrich                Powerful            

4.. Hartman               Strong Man

5. Klein                    Little or short

6. Nehrbass               Several possibilities. Perhaps a Gourmand,  May also be topographical                             surname meaning you live near a village.

4. Schwartz               Black

7. Hertz                    A King Hearted Person.

6)German Surnames based on particular Items such as seasons or     


a. Seasons        .

1.Winter                   as in Bob Winter            

b.German Names Based on Animals

  1. Adler                   Eagle
  2.  Fink                    Finch
  3. Hirsch                  Buck Deer
  4. Vogel                   Bird
  5. Wolf                    The Animal Wolf

c.Name based on plants

  1. Baum                   Tree
  2. Eichmann             Oak Man
  3.  Kohl                   Cabbage
  4. Nussbaum            Nut Tree
  5. Pfeffer                 Pepper
  6. Strauss                 Bouquet

d. Ornamental Names

      1.Blau                     Blue   

      2.Rothschild            Red Shield

      3.Roth                    Red



10/17/23 09:01 AM #441    


Steven Lindfeldt (MidTerm)

Bill, thanks for your response. The name is Swedish. We will never know for sure why the feldt was added . If he did it on purpose, he sure made it  harder on us as no one can pronounce  it and we always have to spell it. The only explaination I ever had is that it had something to do with the fact that he was in the Royal Swedish Army and the feldt had something to do with that.


10/17/23 04:16 PM #442    


Bill Kelso

                     A Profile of McClatchy & Sacramento

After looking at the surnames of many of our classmates it is interesting to ask about the profile of our graduating class. And if we are curious, we can also ask what the graduates of the McClatchy class will be like in 2063. As mentioned in an earlier post, it will probably be a very different picture from the one our classmates took in 1963. 

However, if we look at our McClatchy class in the year in which we graduated, we can ask to what extent our classmates reflected the country at large in the mid 1960s. In some ways we do mirror the US in the sense that at least some people from all the ethnic and racial groups in America are to be found among our classmates. 

Among Hispanics, Asians and Jewish individuals their percentage of our McClatchy class probably reflected their makeup of the American population as a whole. 

But at the same time many ethnic groups were either underrepresented or overrepresented in our class. It is easy to understand why this occurred. After all, in place of settling in all parts of the US, many ethnic and racial groups have preferred to live in distinct regions of the country. In the process of deciding where to live, many ethnic groups created an ethnic type of city and high school that was very different from what we experience at McClatchy. Before discussing this point, it is interesting to see what ethnic groups disproportionately shaped the makeup of our high school class.

Overrepresented Groups

1. English

Not surprisingly, people with English surname dominated the surnames found among our graduates. While the English constitute a large ethnic group in America, they are not the biggest ethnic group in the country. In fact they barely are larger than the population of Irish Catholics. But among our graduates, individuals with English surnames maybe constituted a half of all of our classmates.

2. Scandinavians

Another group that was surprisingly numerous among our classmates was the number of individuals with Scandinavian names. Historically most Norwegians,Swedes and Danes have preferred to live in the Midwest. In particular Norwegians have tended to dominate Wisconsin, while Swedes overwhelming settled in Minnesota while Danes elected to live in North and South Dakota as well as Iowa. However, the Swedes who were the most likely to live in cities rather than take up farming in rural area, also had a large presence in northern Chicago, a city, aside from Stockholm, that quickly acquired the second largest Swedish population in the world.  .

Because the immigrants from the above three countries lived so close together, American started referring to them as Scandinavians. 

3. Irish Catholics

A third  group that is overrepresented in our class is the number of people who are or Irish descent. Historically the Irish overwhelmingly settled in the north eastern section of the country in states and cities like Boston in Massachusetts, New York City, and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. However there were also small but significant settlements in large cities like Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. But generally there were only a handful or Irish in in small or medium sized cities like Sacramento.

4. Scotch Irish

Finally a fourth group of former students who are surprisingly numerous in our school are people with Scotch Irish surnames. Historically unlike their Catholic relatives, the Scotch Irish dominated the Appalachian regions of Kentucky and Tennessee rather than regions like Boston and New York City. However, their cultural capital was Nashville which lies at the base of the Appalachian Mountains, an area where they developed their unique country music as a way of expressing their frustration with living in the poverty-stricken areas of the south east. 

Given the poverty of their surroundings, many Scotch Irish migrated into the Ohio valley seeking out industrial jobs in the Midwest. Even later when the depression and the dust bowl hit this region of the country, the Scotch Irish were part of the Okies that John Steinbeck described in his book The Grapes of Wrath”. Many of them settled in the San Joaquin Valley picking vegetables to financiallly survive. Today they are very prevalent in Bakersfield.

You can always tell if there is a large Scotch Irish population in a region by asking if country music is popular in the area. That is certain the case with Bakersfield where Merle Haggard help develop the Bakersfield sound, which is a rougher version of the country music popular in Nashville. 

But while the Scotch Irish are notable for settling in the San Joaquin valley, it was rare to find them further north in a city like Sacramento. 

Underrepresented Groups.

1. German Americans

If we had an unusual number of people with Enlglish, Scandinavian, Irish or Scotch Irish surnames, we had very few German Americans. At first glance this absence is surprising as Germany American are the largest ethnic group in America with over 50 million members. But once again the preference of Germans, like other ethnic groups, to live in particular regions of the country explains their scarcity in our high school class.

To appreciate where most German Americans live you can draw a V connecting Cincinnati in the west, South Louis in the south and Milwaukee in the north west and you would have the location of the German population that created the beer industry in America. But the Germans were highly concentrated in the Midwest with Milwaukee considered the cultural center of German life in America.  Generally in the Midwest Scandinavians were in more northern states like Minnesota while the Germans were just south of them in lower Wisconsin and Ohio.

2. Italian Americas

Another surprising group under represented in our class are people with Italian surnames. Historically most Italians settled in the east in states like New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island and eastern Pennsylvania. However, while there are few Italians in the Midwest many settled in California especially cities like San Francisco. The Italian areas in the city included the neighborhoods around Fisherman’s Wharf as well as North Beach area. Some of the most notable Italians from San Francisco include Joe DiMaggio, Nancy Pelosi as well as Joe Alito the mayor of San Francisco in the 1960s.

However, in Sacramento and McClatchy we just have a handful of classmates with Italian surnames..

3.African Americans

A third group that is unrepresented in our class involves African Americans. Their underrepresentation reflects the fact that until about 1910, roughly 90% of all African Americans lived in the south. However, in 1910 African Americans began a major move out the south which reduced their percentage in the region to just over 50%. In their outmigration they moved north in two different streams. Once stream located in South Carolina and Georgia moved north towards New York and New Jersey. The other stream from Mississippi and Tennessee moved to the Midwest and primarily settled in Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit. 

As a result the percentage of African Americans on the west coast was relatively small. While roughly 10% of all Americans were black in the 1960s, the population of African Americans in California was much smaller at around 7% or 8%.

However in a major reversal of past practices in the 1980s African American have started to move back to the south. They are primarily moving out of states like New York, New Jersey and Illinois and moving to states like Texas, Georgia and Florida. Adding to the outmigration of African American from the above northern states, African Americans have also started to move out of California over the last two decades. Today while almost 14% of the country is black, the African American population in California is around 5% and dropping. It appears that both the poorest of African Americans as well as some of the best educated and affluent blacks have decided to move south.

As a result roughly 60% of all African Americans today live in the South. If recent migration patterns hold up, in the next two decades close to 2/3 of all blacks may eventually settle in the area of the old confederacy. Evidently many African America feel there are better opportunities for upward mobility in the south than the west or east coast. 

                                       A Demographic Map of America

To better illustrate the locational decision of different ethnic groups we can look below at the ethnic and racial makeup of the four major regions of the country. As the list indicates there are significant ethnic difference from one part of the country to the next. For instance an ethnic profile of the country looks like the following:

The East

Large English, Irish, Jewish and Italian populations. Their African American population is large but has been declining over the past 40 years.

The Midwest

Large Scandinavian, German, Polish, and Scotch Irish populations. Also small but significant population of Irish. Catholics in cities like Chicago. Similarly the Midwest has a large African American population that since 1970s has been steadily declining.

The South

Large English, Scotch Irish populations but it also has a large and rapidly growing Hispanic and Black population.

The West.

Large English, Italian, and Jewish populations. Also it has a small but significant Irish population in the larger cities. Similarly it has a rapidly expanding Hispanic and Asian population as well a small and declining African American population.

                                      The Growth of 3 Types of Cities.

While the decisions of different ethnic group to live in various parts of the country is interesting in and of itself, their actions have actually helped create three different types of cities.

1.Ethnic Enclave Cities

First as we saw earlier many cities have developed as enclave cities in which they create distinct ethnic neighborhoods with different cultural traditions. The best examples would be cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and to a lesser extent San Francisco which have large Irish, Italian, Jewish and Black Neighborhoods. 

2.Dominant Ethnic Cities 

In contrast to the above cities in which we find multiple ethnic neighborhoods, our second type of city has one ethnic group that dominates the community. Because of their ties to their ancestral home, most people in the city are very aware that their ethnic identity has shaped their municipality. As examples of this type of city we can look at the German domination of Milwaukee, the Scotch Irish influence in Nashville, the Norwegian’s impact on the Racine or Kenosha in Wisconsin or the Swedish presence in Minneapolis.

3. Melting Pot Cities

Finally, our third type of city is a municipality like Sacramento where the idea of the Melting pot has shaped the culture of the city and its high schools. In these cases, there are no distinct neighborhoods like the Jewish community of Crown Heights, the Italian neighborhood of Bensonhurst and Canarsie, the African American district of Bedford Stuyvesant or the Russian neighborhood of Brighton Beach that exist today in the borough of Brooklyn. In our significantly more homogeneous neighborhoods few people will be aware of their ethnic heritage or even be able to identify other classmates who have a similar historical background.

While we were student at McClatchy we probably thought our high school experience was similar to that of every other high school kid in America. But because Sacramento was ethnically very different from ethnic enclave cities like New York as well as dominant ethnic communities like Milwaukee, we lived a more sheltered life, often unaware of our own ethnic heritage. 

10/20/23 09:39 AM #443    

Allison Oakes (Sabraw)

Great Data -thank you for the data and all of your time !!


10/20/23 03:11 PM #444    

Susie Weidman (Arnold)

Bill, as always I enjoyed the information you sent to all of us, Thank  you for  your time and knowledge.  Your students sure were lucky to have you as their professor,

10/22/23 04:26 PM #445    


Francis Patrick Hassey (MidTerm)

Thank you Bill,

All of your posts are enlightening and much appreciated. My birth name before I was adopted at age 13 was Francis Patrick Cudahy. I have done some research on ancestry to find a lot of inforation on my birth Father and his family.

On another note, How do I get to your eariler posts about what it was like when we grew up. I want to share that information with my Son Peter Hassey.

10/23/23 04:40 AM #446    


Bill Kelso

Dear Francis


It was nice to hear from you. 


I think you are doing all the right things by conducting independent research by either contacting family members or having an organization like analyze DNA information. Because of the melting pot, our surnames give only a partial view of our ethnic background. The fact that your birth name is Cudahy only proves that my grandfather was right that I attended school with lot of other Irish kids.


I will also try to find the information you asked for. About a week ago I tried to send you that information to your private e mail address but I just checked my list of sent e mails and that e mail failed to arrive. I am sorry for the miscommunication. But I will try to do better this time. To avoid another mishap this time I will send the information on your private McClatchy address.


Unfortunately, I must be getting older and somewhat forgetful as I am not quite sure what article to send you. But give me some time and I will try to figure it out. 


In the meantime, take care. I will get back to you soon.






10/24/23 11:11 AM #447    


Francis Patrick Hassey (MidTerm)


Thank you for trying to send your earlier posts regarding what it was like for us to grow up in the fifties, sixties and seventies. I am not sure how to find a private McClatchy post. If you want to try my email again it is: and my phone number is: 1 (916) 712-5498 If you call and I do not answer, please leave a voice maill message.

Thanks again for your excellant posts


10/29/23 09:28 PM #448    


Charlotte Adelman (Paliani)


David, thanks for posting the great pictures from the reunion. I am sorry I couldn't attend.Look forward to the next one! Everyone looked happy, healthy and having a great time. I must admit I had to focus on some name tags, not because people looked so different but because my memory for names is going, going, going. haha.


12/04/23 09:42 AM #449    


Bill Kelso


                  How our Generation Shaped America

As we wind up our final years it is interesting to analyze how the world has changed since we graduated from McClatchy. However, for many people such developments seem unimportant, as they seem external to us and appear to affect our lives only indirectly. 

To hopefully stimulate more interest in our changing world and to make the subject more appealing, it might be helpful to change the focus of these posts. While previously we have tried to see how a changing world affected our lives, it might be more interesting to reverse the process and examine how our lives as teenagers and young adults affected the world and transformed our country.

Naturally the above statement probably seems terribly overblow. After all when we were young high school kids, we had no conception that our actions in the 60s were anything special. In most cases, the demands of daily living, of finding a job or going to college, preoccupied most of us. 


                               The Rise of the Teenager in America

                             From the Jazz Age to our Rock and Roll Age

Despite our lack of recognition, I want to focus on two key events to show the role our generation played in shaping American life. First of all I want to analyze how in the immediate post WWII period, the US developed its second but also most significant teenage youth culture.  In the 1920s there had been an earlier and much more modest growth in the size of the teenager population which today is known as the Jazz Age but it pales in comparison to the growth in the 1960s of our generation which is now known as the Rock and Roll Age.

However, the young people of the Jazz Age, which is also known as the Roaring 20s, certainly made a distinctive mark on American life. 

After all the Jazz Age which was noticeable for the behavior of its young people who fought in the trenches of WWI, became famous for their embrace of Jazz, as well as their adoption of a new form of morality which celebrated wild parties and making money.  

Many commentators want to compare the roaring 20s to the 1960s whose young people fought in the jungles of Viet Nam, embraced Rock and Roll and adopted at the end of the decade a new youthful nonconformist culture which also celebrated wild and drug infused parties. However, despite the superficial similarities, I want to argue that the two major youth cultures were very different. 

While novelists like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway felt that the Jazz Age was a failure and that the young men who fought in the war were a lost generation, I want to show at the end of this post that the expansive teenage population of the 1960s had a much more lasting and benign impact on American life.

To appreciate this development, I want to first discuss how the size of the potential teenage population dramatically increased in the early 20th century. And then secondly, I want to show how this new subsection of the American population developed its own unique culture, which in many cases conflicted with the outlook of their parents. 

After delineating how the makeup of the American population was evolving, I secondly, hope to show how the growth of the Rock and Roll Age significantly transformed America. 

Even though as teenagers in the 1960s we were undoubtedly unaware how our collective behavior impacted our country, our actions have had three significant and far reaching effects on the nature of American life today. For example, the growth of a youth culture not only helped 1) transform the musical tastes and the nature of entertainment in the US but 2) but in the process it also created a more tolerant and inclusive popular culture in which African Americas came to play a prominent role and 3) equally importantly the growth of the Rock and Roll generation played a major role in helping to transformed the American economy from primarily a service, finance and manufacturing economy into an economy that also has a major entertainment sector. Today as senior citizens we are enjoying the benefits and consequences of decisions we unconsciously pursued as young teenagers.

The Age of Adolescence

What caused the development of a teenager youth culture were developments that took several decades to play out. But the biggest factor that led to the rise of both the Jazz Age in the 1920s and the Rock and Roll Age in the 1960s was the growth of industrialization at the turn of the century. As the US became an industrial powerhouse, business had a need for a much better educated labor force. Increasingly before they hired anyone, they insisted on a high school or college education.

The result was a dramatic increase in the number of people graduating from high school. From a low of 8% of teenagers graduating from high school in 1905, the figures increase to close to 60%by the 1960s.  The number going to college also increased but at a much slower rate. Whereas the number of students graduating from college role during the Jazz age increased from 1% to around 4%,  by the time we graduated in 1963 a little over 7% of the American pubic had obtained college degrees.

High School Graduates        

                              1905          1920          1960          1990          2020

                                8%             18%           59%           80%           89%

As the number of students started to rise, psychologists in the early 20th century even invented a new name, called adolescence, to describe this new generation in American life. In the pre industrial age, when most kids lived on the farm, they often began helping their parents by working at a young age and were considered young adults.  Given the need for more education, the world of children now expanded to meet the needs of this new more demanding industrial age. There now appeared to be three stages of early life, rather than two, childhood, adolescence and then adulthood. 

While increasingly everyone agree that we needed to recognize this new stage in growing up, the word adolescence, which seemed overly academic or even pedantic, was soon replaced by the more popular term teenager after WWII.

Despite the growth in the size of teenagers in high school and college, it took a while for this new school age population to acquire a separate identity and to think of themselves as teenagers who shared a common outlook on life.

How Teenage Identity Replaced Ethnic Culture

The first hurdle was the problem of ethnicity. Beginning in the 1950s and extending through the early 1970s there was a new dynamic in American life.  Life in cities like Sacramento was significantly different from enclave cities like New York as the Melting Pot in more homogeneous cities started to work its magic in blurring ethnic divisions. 

At the same time that various ethnic group started marrying each other, erasing ethnic differences, the growth of large number of increasing affluent and sometimes bored teenagers began to magnify age differences. As young people ceased to think of themselves as Irish or Italians or Germans, they tended to identify as teenagers instead who values and desire for independence often clashed with the wishes of their parents. 

As similarities between teenagers became more pronounced, they often found themselves at odds with their older parents, creating in the process a new generation gap. As we shall see later whether it was buying 45s at Tower records or the growth of saddle shoes and bobby socks or women adopting a flip hair style, young people were beginning to forge a new teenager culture that often startled their adult counterparts.

How Teenager Identity Overcame Class Biases

Beside overcoming ethnic differences among teenagers, young people starting college also faced unpleasant class differences. In the early 1920s the few people who attended college were generally from well to do families. At that time most universities were private universities that catered to the very well to do. 

When private schools thus started to admit a few students from ethnic neighborhoods like Hells Kitchen or the Lower East Side, there was a lot of social conflict.  Since many students from recently arrived ethnic groups often lacked the polished manners of the upper class, they were often treated in a patronizing or snobbish manner. To correct this problem many elite schools created gentlemen agreements to limit the number of lower income students. The fact that the agreements were called gentlemen agreements reflected the fact that ivy league schools did not think of the lower income students starting to attend their campuses had the manners of proper gentlemen. 

In a more positive vein, private school also started creating student unions on college campus in the hopes of creating new venue in which students from different economic background could interact.  Traditionally the students from wealthy families occupied fraternities and sororities and looked down on lower income classmates who could not afford to live in frat houses. By creating new student unions, private and later public junior college and universities tried to create new institutions in which students from a variety of economic background could interact with one.  The hope was that by creating these new facilities, universities would undermine the degree of class snobbery that existed in many college campuses.

However, it was state and city governments that were the primary actors in trying to to break down the class biases of college. To make sure colleges were open to students of all economic classes, states and cities began a concerted effort to start building city colleges after WWII. To compliment the creation of city colleges most states tried to ensure that every major city had a relatively inexpensive state college. By and large their efforts were highly successful. By the time we graduated from high school, students from all walks of life could afford a college education.  As college became less expensive, the class divisions that had divided college and high school students also declined.

With ethnic and class differences shrinking, a new youth culture began to develop. Prior to the industrial age, young people often lived isolated lives in which their parents and perhaps their local church and community shaped their attitudes. By the middle of the 20th century, that bond between parents and teenagers began to fray.

The Rise of Advertising and National Magazines

With the rise of an industrialized economy, businesses and mass advertisers started to influence how young people saw themselves. While Americans had once lived isolated lives separated by great distances, large American companies started to standardize how Americans viewed the world. That process was certainly true of teenagers. As national companies began to produce magazines aimed at teenagers with names like Seventeen, large business enterprises sought to advise young women on how they should dress and comport themselves, diminishing in the process the influence of parents.

The Rise of the all Encompassing High School

But even more importantly, as young people were spending more and more time in school, school activities and peer pressure came to rival parents in shaping the attitude of young people. Increasingly high schools had a dramatic impact on students as they provided a place for constant peer interaction without any parental supervision. With the combination of mass advertising and the all-encompassing high school, young students gained more control over the shape of their lives. In classrooms and extracurricular activities teenagers had an unprecedent opportunity to develop friendship and peer culture with only a minimal amount of adult control. 

As the demand for a better educated labor force intensified, schools went to great lengths to attract and retain students by enhancing their social life. They believed they could attract more students if they gave teenagers the chance to be part of a larger entity in which they could individually excel.  Schools quickly realized that if they solely appealed to student to stay in school because of the benefits of education, they would fail in their mission. However, if they developed extensive athletic teams or created musical or social programs, students would come to school for the extracurricular activities. 

For examples, while many male students might be indifferent about studying or even graduating high school, their desire to shine on the gridiron in the weekly football game would give them plenty of incentives to pass all of their classes. For students who did not actually play sports, the high school ritual of attending the weekly high school football game and then cruising K street after the game made high school life attractive. If the local team won, students often felt a sense of pride in the achievements of their high school. High school was a place where teenagers could feel that they were not alone, that they belonged to a larger and respected entity that enhanced their individual status.

As the above examples indicate, school became the center of many teenagers’ life. Whether it was playing sports, singing in the choir, participating in the marching band, being a cheer leader, or just hanging out with your classmates high school shaped people’s lives. Instead of living at home and then attending school, many young people lived at school, and then attending home merely to eat dinner and rest. Increasingly school activities and friendships rather than family life gave many young people an identity as well as a sense of belonging. 

By the time we graduated, a new youth culture had emerged that often embraced values our parents were not wholly comfortable with. Tomorrow we will try to analyze the distinctive youth culuture that developed in the 1960s.









go to top 
  Post Message
    Prior Page
Next Page