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SCHWARTZ Family History


This surname is of the epithet/descriptive variety, denoting a person of dark or swarthy appearance. The root is Middle High German ?swarz? meaning ?dark, black. The widespread German surname may also represent families of Jewish (Ashkenazic) origin. The surname is equally common in Austria as in Germany, where it is the 30th most common surname. Schwarz is a well established variant form, as is Schwartzen.

In Germany the surname is to be found in large concentrations throughout the provinces: Nordrhein-Westfallen, Bayern, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Hamburg and so-on. However, the surname is spread throughout central and eastern Europe.

Arriving in the United States from the 1700s, in cities such as New York and Philadelphia, the families quickly became established in New York State, 4202 by the time of the 1920 Census, but also concentrated in Pennsylvania, 1298, Illinois, 1034, and Ohio, 874.

By modern times Schwartz ranked as 330th in the USA list of surnames, with approximately 84, 699 bearers (Source: United States Census Bureau).

There are no less that 11 coats of arms for Schwartz/Scwarzen recorded in the 17th century Siebmacher?s ?Wappenbuch?; the first is a red shield containing three escutcheons (mini shields). Another coat is a single golden rose on a black field.

Various legends attach to the Schwartz name, one such notable is that it is Jewish. This comes from the fact that some bearers are Jewish and take their name from Yiddish ?shvarts?, with the same meaning.

Two Famous Bearers

Delmore Schwartz (1913-1966): born in New York State, he was a poet, literary critic and short story writer. ?In Dreams Begin Responsibilities? (1939) was praised for the lyrical power of the poems it contained; the title itself was of a short story in that work. His later short stories often dealt with alienation and problems of identity, often in the context of Jewish family life.

Melvin Schwartz (b. 1932): born in New York city, he is a physicist whose research into sub-atomic particles that have no electric charge or mass (neutrinos) won him, together with another researcher, the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1988.

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