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About the study
If you are serious about your genealogical research, eventually you will always end up wondering (and then trying to work out) whether all the people who share the surname you're interested in, and live in the same village or town, are related. As Feinstein is the name I was born with, I feel that the time is right to use everything I have learned over many years of researching and studying to start to create a database for this surname, and to register it as a one-name study.
I am particularly interested in the waves of movement I expect to discover. I know there are hundreds of Feinsteins in the UK, the US, South Africa, and elsewhere, but I don't yet know if they all came from Latvia and Lithuania. I am excited about tracing the patterns of migration and the networks of families, their occupations, naming patterns, and everything else I can discover.
My own family begins with Levin Feinstein in eighteenth-century Palanga (Polangen), on the Baltic coast of Lithuania, famous for its amber. The pronunciation is Fine-steen, but others pronounce it Fine-stine.
Some Feinsteins changed their name - I have already collected Fenn, Fenston, Fentin, Fenton, Ferris, Fields, Fine, Finston, Firestone, Fontaine, Forrest, Foster, Franklin, Fyne, and Stone.
Variant spellings include Fainshteyn, Fainshtein, Fajnsztejn, Fajnstejn, Feynshteyn, Feinsteinyte, Feinshtein. In my initial searches in English-speaking countries, I am concentrating on the exact spelling Feinstein.
I was told as a young child at school that the name means "fine stone", i.e. jewellery. The Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press says: "Jewish (Ashkenazic): ornamental name composed of German fein ‘fine’ + Stein ‘stone’".
In the UK census, there were no Feinsteins (exact spelling) until 1861 (just one person, from Warsaw). In 1891 there are just 36 entries. In 1901 there are 52, and in 1911 there are 50. The England & Wales Civil Registration Birth Index 1916-2007 has just 72 Feinsteins (exact spelling).
The 1939 Register has 44 people.
The earliest US birth I have so far is 1880 in New York, and the US Social Security Applications and Claims Index 1936-2007 has 748 people with a father who was a Feinstein. The California Birth Index 1905-95 has 474.
The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry has 1130 Feinsteins.
I will update this page as I investigate other countries' records.
I will be collecting data from every country.
I am interested in hearing from any Feinsteins who have the results of autosomal or Y-DNA tests.