The following excerpt is from an article by my friend, James M. Beidler, published in his August 14, 2011 column at the Lebanon Daily News website.

After a decade of work, genealogy researcher Ken McCrea has produced a volume that will have many a family historian in his debt, especially those who are chasing ancestors from Germany.

That’s because he has published the:Surname Atlas of Germany: Distribution Maps of the 2001 Most Frequent Surnames in Germany($25.01, McCrea Research, 262 pages).

As McCrea points out in his introduction, the distribution of surnames can be particularly helpful when a genealogist is stumped in finding the home village of an emigrant ancestor.

His book allows researchers to see maps that outline where the present-day concentrations of a surname are found in Germany, as a way of making the haystack of villages to be searched much smaller.

McCrea points out that spelling variants of a surname are treated separately in this volume – somewhat going against the grain of what beginning genealogists are often taught (that is, ignore surname spelling variants since any particular record, especially in America, might use any variant) – since a good many of these spelling variants have localized origins that would be obscured if they were lumped together.

In addition to looking for records from an area of concentration, intrepid researchers might even wish to call people who have their surname of interest using the current version of the German telephone book, which is online at the URL, http://www.dastelefonbuch.de/.

Read Jim’s full article.