Tracing the Tribe believes it is important to detail each new database individually to provide the best information and how each can help researchers.
In 1941, the Arias B. Montano Institute in Madrid began publishing Sefarad, a biannual academic journal. At first dedicate to research on Spanish Jews up to the 1492 Expulsion, its focus was expanded several years ago. Currently, it covers Hebrew studies and Mediterranean Jews.
Researchers working in the Crown of Aragon archives, regional Notarial Archives and other locations wrote articles on these primary resources. The writers often included the lists of names in the documents they studies, such as the names of inhabitants or property owners. These lists document Jewish surnames in use in medieval Spain, and is evidence of Sephardic roots.
Sephardic researchers must understand that not all the archives in Spain have been studied, and that some are only now becoming computerized, such as the archive in Lerida/Llerida which received its first computer only about two years ago, around the time of my visit.
As more researchers work with more archives, additional lists will be produced. As an excellent example, a current project in the Cervera Archives by dedicated genealogist Maria Jose Surribas of Barcelona will add much to what we know today.
This SephardicGen index covers Sefarad articles from 1941-2007. Fields include surname, given name, place and year of occurence and article in which it appeared. There are more than 2,000 surnames.
As most family history researchers and geenalogists are aware, names were not yet fixed in the medieval era, and there are numerous variants; compound names are found as one word or as two words, and patronymic names seem to have disappeared. Researchers should be aware that geographic place surnames are rare – these became popular as an identifier after a family or individual left their town or city, often after a move to a different city or as a result of the 1492 Expulsion.
I always search for Talalay or Tal* (wildcard) in the hope of finding an elusive ancestor of this very rare name.
Using the “begins with” TAL, three names popped up:
Talaguera, Salamon; Huesca 1440, in a 1947 article, “La aljama judaica de Huesca” (The Huesca Jewish community).
Talaya, Salomon; Morella 1370, in a 1964 article, “La juderia de Morella (siglos XIII-XIV)” (The Morella Jewish community, 13th-14th centuries).
Talelma, Ifahim; Huesca 1440, in the same 1947 article noted above.
We may have hit on a possible connection in Salomon Talaya (we had previously found a record of his brother), and are investigating. Talaya is a variant we have seen before. Depending on time frame and location, the name can be spelled Talalla, as double-L=Y.
A search for names beginning with “O” produced 16 entries (some duplicate names): OBEIX, OCANA/OCANYA, ODRERO, OEB, OFFICIAL, OLBALAFIO, OLMEDANO, ORABUENA, OREJA, ORELLA, OMAN, ORUM, OSTIELLO. Locations include Zaragoza, Valdeiglesias (Madrid), Illuesca (Aragon), Zamora, Viana, Buitrago del Loyoza, Tudela, Sos del Rey Catolico, Valencia, Valmazeda and Huesca. Articles mentioning these names and places ranged from 1947-1996.
Tips to remember: B and V are often interchanged. X is pronounced SH. A final C may be SH.
You can also search by town. I searched for Lerida, but there were no hits. That is the town that we believe some of our ancestors came from according to a document dated 1353. A few towns from which I expected hits in general seemed to have a search glitch and my browser read “error on page” appearing on my browser.
Towns with the largest number of names: Huesca (152), Barcelona (159), Zaragoza (253), Valencia (203), Tudela (100), Tarazona (64). There are other towns with as few as one name, and others with five or ten.
Many names beginning with A use the Hebrew (aben, abe, abi) or Arabic (al, abu) prefixes meaning “son of.”
Names (just a few samples from the Huesca list):
ABADIAS, ABAGALEO, ABARY, ABEMELCH, ABEN ARDUT, ABEN
BARUCH, ABEN LATERNI, ABEN SAPRIT, ABENABES, ABENBITALS, ABENLONGUO, ABINGASON, ABUAXECH, ABURABBE, ADDIDA, ALBAGDI, ALBAGLI, ALBACLI, ALBERGI, ALCATALAY, ALCUCUMBRIEL, BARRA, BIBAS, BIBAX, BIUAG, BONOY, CABANA / CABANYAS, CADOC, CARNARON, CAVATIERRE, CAZES, DE CASTELLANO, DE LAS INFANTAS, DE MENDOZA, EL NIETO, ELPEN, ERICA, EXUEN, FANOCA, FARFE, FARFI, FARSI, FRAD, GABBAY, GASSO, GASTON, GOMNECO, GUATOIRE, GUGUF, HATEN, HAYENO, LATRONER, LEUI FARIZANO, LO NIETO, LONJERO, LUENGO, MAGALLON, MANGUAS, MOTAMINYO, MUCANUNO, NACAN, NATAN, NATRONES, OSTIELLO, PAPUZ, PARELLO, PASTOR, PSAOR, RAENAS, SAMAREL, SEFARDI, SURI, TALAGUERA, TALELMAN, TERNERES, TOBI, XALON, XUEN.
I will be detailing several more of the new databases in the next few days. Remember to use the full extent of the search engine, using as little as one letter, or partial names. Creative spelling is the rule when dealing with medieval era omnastics.
Thank you, SephardicGen, for these resources.