In 2007, I explored the frequency and distribution of Hasselbacher spelling variations in the phone books of Germany and Austria using the website of Christoph Stöpel. I was still wrestling with how my name might have been originally spelled, and how the spelling might have changed with time and place. A few obvious observations were possible. While there were quite a few Haselbachers in Austria, there were no Hasselbachers. In Germany, there was a mixture of both spellings but the geographic distribution of the two spellings did not particularly overlap. I had little understanding of the methodology behind the website and thus, while interesting, conclusions were limited. I am marginally smarter now and have a better feeling about how we got our name. When I discovered some new websites that provide name-counts, I thought I would take another and expanded look.  If we are lucky, better insights will do something other than expaining how our name appears on a printed page; but can help us understand how and where we got our various names, and like DNA, help us trace our migration around Europe and the world.


Several sources of name-counts from telephone books are available."Das Telefonbuch"is a Germany-wide directory that I use often. It has the advantage of providing separate counts of personal and business phones. There remains however, some duplication of personal addresses. It is not difficult to find the same person at the same address with two phone numbers. Perhaps some of these are business phones. For all I know, this database is the source of information for the geo-mapping websites that I will mention below.

In Austria there is a prominent on-line directory at""It was the only Austrian directory I could find easily that was not overrun with advertising services and commercial offers. It had the disadvantage of combining personal and business phones in its counts. Its counts were quite disparate from the counts of the geomapping sites so I did not use this resource.

There are two Geo-mapping sites available. Both break down name counts by our equivalent of counties with shaded colors depicting counts and rates. Mousing over the map of Germany on the attractive maps yields the name of the administrative area. One site,"Verwandt"also provides lists of the places with the highest counts or rates.  (The Austrian map on that website was not functional.)   Additionally, the Verwandt site does not discriminate between 'ss' and 'ß' and returns the same counts for both variations.

The second Geomapping site,"Geogen"appears to be an evolution of the Christoph Stöpel site I used originally. It is available in English. It does not provide some of the lists of the other, but it has working maps for both Germany and Austria that. It also provides separate counts for 'ss' and 'ß,' at least for Germany. Its totals were similar to the "Verwandt" site to the extent that I suspect they both draw on the same data or that one has licensed its technology to the other.

Both sites stipulate that they are counting phones, but also make an estimate of the total number of people with a given name, multiplying by about 2.6. I am not aware of the analytic methods used by either site. Comparison with the breakdown of personal and business phones by Das Telefonbuch leaves open the possibility that the Geomapping sites combine both business and personal phones. It is with this possible caveat that I proceed.


How Hasselbacher is Spelled in Germany and Austria

 Germany   Austria
Hasselbacher 99 0
Haßelbacher 30 0
Haselbacher 51 146
Hasselbach 730 0
Haßelbach 20 0
Haselbach 291 9

Number of telephone listings in German and Austrian phone books.
From Geogen website of Christoph Stöpel.

In Austria, the striking observation is that while there are only slightly fewer total variant Hasselbachers (146 vs. 180), all of them are spelled Haselbacher with only one 's'. As before, I am unaware if there are systematic technical or historical reasons why this is so. In the current iteration of this analysis, I added the name Hasselbach. There were only 9 entries in Austria and all of them were spelled with one 's'.

In Germany, very different results were seen. Among the Hasselbacher variants, the most common spelling was Hasselbacher with 99, and another 30 with ß. Only 28% used a single 's'. The unexpected observation for me was the strikingly higher number of Hasselbach variants: almost 6 times more than Hasselbacher variants. Of the Hasselbach variants, a smaller proportion used the 'ß'. and a nearly identical 27% used a single 's' compared to the Hassselbacher variants.

In Germany, Hasselbacher is a distinctly uncommon name occurring at a below-average frequency.   Hasselbach is more common.   According to the Geogen analysis, it rises to an average occurrence rate compared to other names.

Geographic variation.