Saturday, 5 January 2013

Surname Saturday- Altman

S. L. Altman in the early 1920s.
I'm grateful, once more to Geneabloggers for giving me something to write about! I find their blogging prompts very inspiring, and with luck I'll be able to take them up more in the coming months. Today I wanted to focus on the first name my genealogical adventures brought me to, almost five years ago now: Altman!
S. L.  Altman, approx. 1890s.

 When I was a little boy, my grandmother brought us back from her trip to Australia a thin A4 booklet entitled simply "The Altmans: A Family Story". It contained stories in it about her mother (who was born Amelia Altman in 1894) and her parents and siblings, and their children, as well as family trees for each of the branches. Unsurprisingly, this was my first port of call when I embarked upon family history research myself. The patriarch of the family was Samuel Louis Altman. Whilst the compilers of the book had not access to the resources, I was able to take the Altman name back to Poland, and find records of Samuel, who had been born Szlama Laib. I was also able to find records of his father, Aron (Aaron) who died in Kalisz in 1867, having been born in the town of Zdunska Wola approximately 65 years earlier. His three sons, all born in Poland, too had sons, though they were born either in New York or in London. Many of them, interestingly enough, went on to become barbers or hairdressers, just as their grandfather in Poland had been. With a slightly different spelling, I found him in a medical directory of 1839! It's the oldest record I've found of a member of the Altman family in Poland (followed by the record of Aaron's mother's death in 1848) .

Despite having researched the Altman family for some years now, with branches in Australia, England, and New York (although we are not related to the Altman, of department store fame in New York!) I've never actually met anyone of that surname! The relations I've met on that side, from my grandmother onwards, were either women who long since married or, as in my grandmother's case, children of Altman girls. One day I hope to meet a member of the family who carries the name still, if only to tell them of its history!


  1. Hi Daniel,
    I did a quick check in a large Dutch genealogy data base. It revealed 213 hits for the surname Altman. Could it be that there is a Dutch connection somewhere?
    Kind regards,

  2. Peter,

    I should have mentioned in the main post, but Altman is quite commonly found in German-speaking and similar territories, including the Netherlands. I am fairly sure that in my case the name originates in Poland. Thanks anyway though,


  3. The name Altman is very common in several countries (unfortunately for those researching the name). Both my husband and I have Altman's in our ancestry.

    On my own family the earliest record I have is 1854 for Marcu Altman, born in Romania.

    My husband's mother was an Altman, also spelled Oltman in some records. These Altman's were from Poland, although we've found little documentation and our records do not go back very far. These Altman's were in America in the late 1800's.

    1. Dear Julie, thanks for your comment! Altman is indeed a tricky one in certain places. As for your Polish Altmans, if they're descended from a Samuel Altman in New York from the 1870s, do let me know - we could have a connection.