Schaeffer last name popularity, history, and meaning

Find out how popular the last name Schaeffer is in the United States and learn more about the meaning, history, and race and ethnic origin of people in America who are named Schaeffer.

Meaning of Schaeffer

An occupational surname referring to a shepherd or sheep shearer, derived from the German word "schäfer" meaning "shepherd."

Schaeffer, like all of the last names we have data for, is identified by the U.S. Census Bureau as a surname which has more than 100 occurrences in the United States in the Decennial Census survey. The most recent statistics we have for the Schaeffer surname is from the 2010 census data.

Popularity of Schaeffer in America

Schaeffer is the 2272nd most popular name in America based on the data we have collected from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Schaeffer surname appeared 16,024 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 5 people would have the surname Schaeffer.

We can also compare 2010 data for Schaeffer to data from the previous census in 2000. The table below contains all of the statistics for both years in a side-by-side comparison.

2010 2000 Change (%)
Rank 2272 2156 5.24%
Count 16,024 15,448 3.66%
Proportion per 100k 5.43 5.73 -5.38%

The history of the last name Schaeffer

The surname Schaeffer is of German origin, derived from the occupation of a shepherd or shepherd overseer. It is believed to have originated in the medieval period, possibly as early as the 12th century. The name is derived from the Old German word "schaf," meaning sheep, and the suffix "-er," indicating an occupation or profession.

In its earliest forms, the name was spelled in various ways, such as Schaffer, Schaefer, and Schäfer. These variations were common due to the lack of standardized spelling conventions during that time period. The name was particularly prevalent in regions with a strong German-speaking population, such as Bavaria, Saxony, and the Rhineland.

One of the earliest recorded instances of the name Schaeffer can be found in the Codex Diplomaticus, a collection of medieval documents from the 13th century. This collection includes references to individuals bearing the name Schaeffer, suggesting its use as a surname during that period.

Historically, the surname Schaeffer was associated with individuals involved in the shepherding profession or those who oversaw sheep-related activities. As such, it was commonly found in rural areas and villages where sheep farming was a significant economic activity.

Among notable individuals with the surname Schaeffer throughout history are:

  1. Johann Schaeffer (1624-1677), a German Lutheran theologian and philosopher.
  2. Jacob Christian Schaeffer (1718-1790), a German naturalist and mycologist known for his work on fungi.
  3. Johann Wilhelm Schaeffer (1768-1838), a German artist and engraver renowned for his landscape paintings and etchings.
  4. August Schaeffer (1833-1916), a German-American brewer and businessman who co-founded the Schaeffer Brewery in New York.
  5. Edith Schaeffer (1914-2013), an American writer and co-founder of the L'Abri community in Switzerland.

It's worth noting that the surname Schaeffer has also been associated with various place names, particularly in Germany and regions with a strong German influence. For example, the town of Schäferhof in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, likely derived its name from the occupation of shepherding.

Overall, the surname Schaeffer has a rich history rooted in German culture and the shepherding profession, with its origins dating back to the medieval period and its variations reflecting the linguistic and regional differences of that era.

Race and ethnic origin of people with the last name Schaeffer

We also have some data on the ancestry of people with the surname Schaeffer.

The below race categories are the modified race categories used in the Census Bureau's population estimates program. All people were categorized into six mutually exclusive racial and Hispanic origin groups:

  1. White only
  2. Black only
  3. American Indian and Alaskan Native only
  4. Asian and Pacific Islander only
  5. Hispanic
  6. Two or More Races

For the most recent 2010 census data, the race/ethnic origin breakdown for Schaeffer was:

Race/Ethnicity Percentage Total Occurrences
Non-Hispanic White Only 92.84% 14,877
Non-Hispanic Black Only 1.65% 264
Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only 0.62% 99
Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native 1.07% 171
Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races 1.26% 202
Hispanic Origin 2.56% 410

Note: Any fields showing (S) means the data was suppressed for privacy so that the data does not in any way identify any specific individuals.

Since we have data from the previous census in 2000, we can also compare the values to see how the popularity of Schaeffer has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 92.84% 94.58% -1.86%
Black 1.65% 1.29% 24.49%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.62% 0.54% 13.79%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 1.07% 0.95% 11.88%
Two or More Races 1.26% 0.91% 32.26%
Hispanic 2.56% 1.73% 38.69%

Data source

The last name data and ethnic breakdown of last names is sourced directly from the Decennial Census survey, conducted every 10 years by the United States Census Bureau.

The history and meaning of the name Schaeffer was researched and written by our team of onomatology and genealogy experts.

If you have a correction or suggestion to improve the history of Schaeffer, please contact us.

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"Schaeffer last name popularity, history, and meaning". Accessed on July 13, 2024.

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