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Alter Family History

Alter Name Meaning

German and Jewish (Ashkenazic): distinguishing epithet for the older of two bearers of the same personal name. Jewish (Ashkenazic): from the Yiddish personal name Alter, an inflected form of alt ‘old’. This was in part an omen name, expressing the parents’ hope that the child would live a long life; in part an apotropaic name, given to a child born after the death of a sibling, but also said to have sometimes been assumed by someone who was seriously ill. The purpose is supposed to have been to confuse the Angel of Death into thinking that the person was old and so not worth claiming as a victim.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press


Similar surnames: Malter, Alder, Alger, Halter, Balter, Altes, Alber, Elter, Walter

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Hint: Try searching for a relative alive in 1940.

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Where is the Alter family from?

You can see how Alter families moved over time by selecting different census years. The Alter family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most Alter families were found in the USA in 1880. In 1840 there were 20 Alter families living in Pennsylvania. This was about 47% of all the recorded Alter's in the USA. Pennsylvania had the highest population of Alter families in 1840.
Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the Alter surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.

What did your Alter ancestors do for a living?

In 1940, Salesman and Stenographer were the top reported jobs for men and women in the US named Alter. 16% of Alter men worked as a Salesman and 11% of Alter women worked as a Stenographer. Some less common occupations for Americans named Alter were Proprietor and Clerk.

View Census data for Alter | Data not to scale

*We display top occupations by gender to maintain their historical accuracy during times when men and women often performed different jobs.

Top Male Occupations in 1940

  • Salesman
    16%
  • Laborer
    10%
  • Farmer
    7%
  • Proprietor
    6%

Top Female Occupations in 1940

  • Stenographer
    11%
  • Bookkeeper
    10%
  • Teacher
    7%
  • Clerk
    7%
Black & white image of two construction labourers

What Alter family records will you find?

Census Records

There are 37,000 census records available for the last name Alter. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Alter census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

Search US census records for Alter

Passenger Lists

There are 6,000 immigration records available for the last name Alter. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

View all Alter immigration records

Draft Cards

There are 13,000 military records available for the last name Alter. For the veterans among your Alter ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

View all Alter military records

You've only scratched the surface of Alter family history.

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What is the average Alter lifespan?

Between 1956 and 2004, in the United States, Alter life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1958, and highest in 2001. The average life expectancy for Alter in 1956 was 81, and 79 in 2004.

View Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for Alter

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