Contact Forebears

Your query may be answered among the most frequently asked questions:

Names - Distribution

Forebears provides data on name distribution and is not involved in the delineation of nations. The website does not specifically define any of the following disputed territories as nations or part of nations:

Abkhazia, Artsakh, Ceuta and Melilla, Crimea, Golan Heights, Israel, Kashmir, Kosovo, Northern Cyprus, Palestine, Sahrawi Republic, Somaliland, South Ossetia, Taiwan and Transnistria.

They all appear as they are controlled de facto. This decision was taken as the records Forebears uses are obtained from sources within the de facto jurisdiction; the de jure or other claimants have few or no record as to the names of who lives in them. The administrative divisions within disputed territories also often differ form the de jure administrative divisions. This is current as of April 2014.

The delineations have not been made for political reasons and Forebears does not comment on boundary disputes.

The Donetsk People's Republic and The Luhansk People's Republic are not included as they were not established at the time of creation; and it is unclear of the situation in this area. The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria is not included as no data has been obtained covering its boundaries. It appears as part of Syria.

Forebears uses a database of around four billion people to produce statistics relating to forenames and surnames. Thus they are approximations.

Due to the amount of resources it would require to keep an accurate record of everyone alive Forebears does not seek to make edits to the underlying data.

Names containing diacritical marks (or accents) will be considered different to those that don't. For example the name Öztürk (568,848 bearers) is treated differently to Ozturk (7,920 bearers).

Names may contain any character in the Latin Unicode range as well as apostrophe ('), hyphen (-) and space ( ). These are also considered differently. For example, Jones-Williams is considered different to Jones Williams.

Due to the copyright status of various sources used and Forebears' own privacy concerns, no details on living people will be disbursed under any circumstances. If you wish to locate people with a given name, it is recommend you consult white pages or hire a private investigator.

Forebears does not remove names from the website. Names cannot be owned and the factual information relating to the meaning or distribution of a surname cannot be subject to copyright.

Names - Meaning

There is a facility which allows you to submit details yourself. On each page there is a button 'Submit Information on This Surname...' either located at the top of the page or below the list of nations and territories a name occurs in. This will guide you though the submission process.

Only submissions that cover a surname's meaning, origin or arrival in another country are accepted. Submissions that only contain details about a family or a location the name occurs in are not accepted.

Information received on names via the contact form are added to a list that is periodically added to the site. However, these submissions are not eligible for the DNA test prize that is selected for every 1,000 submissions.

Accurately researching the origin and meaning of a surname can be a lengthy task, which can take more than one day. For this reason Forebears does not offer help in researching surnames. The most likely place you may receive help finding the meaning of a surname is on a genealogy forum covering the relevant county or language.

Forebears does not have the resources available to catalogue names, research their meaning or investigate the validity of surname descriptions. Descriptions of surnames listed on the site are almost wholly from third parties and are provided as is; as a point of reference. This is disclaimed at the bottom of each page:

“Descriptions are largely reproduced from 3rd party sources; diligence is advised on accepting their validity”

The focus of the site is to provide distribution data and third party descriptions of names.

If a description is brought to light which is highly questionable, it will be given a tag to note that or deleted. Concise documentation is required for this.

You can however add your own information and dispute other descriptions by submitting it via the surname page. That can be done by clicking on the button the says “Submit Information on This Surname for a Chance to Win a $100 Genealogy DNA Test”. This either either located at the top of the page or above the meaning section.


Due to the large amount of time and often localised expertise required to undertake research queries, Forebears does not provide research assistance.

If you are seeking advice for England and Wales, see Forebears' England & Wales Genealogy Guide.

For more specific help, it is recommended you post your query on RootsChat

For other nations, FamilySearch Wiki may provide research advice.

FamilySearch hosts an increasing number of records for primarily European cultures.

If you are seeking records outside of Europe and The Americas, you will generally find little online; and often there are few surviving records or records that were kept that will be of use in family history research.

If you cannot find assistance above, it is recommended you search for a guide, such as are available for Italy or a forum, such as Armenian Genealogy Forum. The website of your national or regional archive may also provide advice.

If your ancestors came from a culture that kept few or no written records, your best option is to take a DNA test, which can help you locate relatives and learn about your deep ethnic origins.


Yes. Forebears is a free website that doesn't commercially offer products or services. Forebears links to third party websites (such as FindMyPast and Ancestry) which are subscription websites.

Currently the only function of a Forebears account is the ability to add information on names.

It is a common problem that people try to login to Forebears with user accounts for other websites, usually Ancestry, FamilySearch or FindMyPast.

First verify you have an account registered with Forebears by going to the login page.

  1. At the bottom-left of the page is a heading 'Forgot password'
  2. Enter your email address and press 'Reset Password'
  3. If your email is registered an email will be sent to you with instructions to reset your account's password; otherwise you will be told the email is not registered
  4. If it does not arrive, please check your spam folder
  5. Click on the reset link in the email and you will be redirected to a page to enter a new password
  6. You can now login with your new password

If you still can't login, please provide us with the email address of your Forebears account and the problem you are facing, e.g. "I am getting this error message..." or "I am on this page and can't proceed because of..."

Data / API

Yes. Data can be accessed via API, CSV/Excel upload and web interface at OnoGraph.


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