Nomen est omen

What do European public databases say about your family name? Who would benefit from it and how?

Nomen Est Omen provides people with a fascinating overview of what public databases say about their family name (currently in Finland and the Netherlands). It offers a simple interface into registers which hold information about surnames and by linking to those sources, provides the users with the opportunity for further research about their family name.

The “”Elite-o-meter”” adds a tongue-in-cheek estimate of how elitist a family name is by counting, for instance, the number of Finnish MP’s with the given surname in the past 100 years.

Alternatively, users can compare two family names against each other or make family name combinations and compare the collective results.

The app encourages users to learn more about their family’s history and can be used by researchers, schools, genealogists and laymen alike.

What data do you think you need in order to build it?

The current Beta version uses the following data sources:


  • Population Register Centre Name Service
  • Finnish Parliament’s database of Parliament Members
  • Finnish National Archive’s database of fallen soldiers 1939 – 1945
  • Artists’ Association of Finland – Visual Artists’ Internet Registry
  • The National Biography of Finland
  • Helsinki University’s Student Roll 1640 – 1852 and 1853 – 1899


  • Netherlands War Grave Foundation “Victim Register”
  • Dutch fallen Military and Resistance members 1940-1945 “Honour List”

Further development

Tens or hundreds of databases in Europe could be integrated into the service. The following are among the databases being considered for the Netherlands alone:

  • Corpus of Family Names in the Netherlands
  • Genlias genealogical database
  • Soldiers in the Netherlands in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th century
  • Society of Dutch Literature “Levensberichten”

The problem we have faced in many cases has been the material not being machine-readable or suitable for screenscraping. In particular we would like to see state-owned name databases being opened (as has been done by Population Register Centre in Finland).

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