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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: German, Jewish


The name Kleiner comes from the German province known as the Rhineland. In pre-medieval times, the German people used only one name, but as the population increased, hereditary surnames became necessary for people to maintain unique identities. Kleiner is a nickname surname, a style of name based on an eke-name, or added name, that described a characteristic of its original bearer. Kleiner is a name for a small or short person deriving its origin from the German word "klien," which means "small."

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The surname Kleiner was first found in the Rhineland, where the name came from humble beginnings but gained a significant reputation for its contribution to the emerging mediaeval society. It later became more prominent as many branches of the same house acquired distant estates and branches, some in foreign countries, always elevating their social status by their great contributions to society.

In the medieval era, many different cultural groups lived in the German states. There are thus many regional variations of German surnames from that era. Westphalians spoke Low German, which is similar to modern Dutch. Many German names carry suffixes that identify where they came from. Others have phrases attached that identify something about the original bearer. Other variations in German names resulted from the fact that medieval scribes worked without the aid of any spelling rules. The spelling variations of the name Kleiner include Klein, Kleinn, Kleine, Kleinne, Kleyn, Kleynn, Kline, Clein, Clein, Cline, Kleiner, Klinertz and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kleiner research. Another 491 words (35 lines of text) covering the years 1708, 1745, 1761, 1790, 1818, 1777, 1609, 1666, 1849 and 1925 are included under the topic Early Kleiner History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 71 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kleiner Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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The great European flow of migration to North America, which began in the middle of the 17th century and continued into the 20th century, was particularly attractive to those from the Rhineland who wished to escape either poverty or religious persecution. Many of those who left the Rhineland to seek their fortunes in the prosperous and free New World settled in the major urban centers of the United States and Canada. In the United States, the settlers from the Rhineland passed through immigration centers like that of Ellis Island, most of them moving on to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, California, and New York. In Canada, the majority of Rhinelanders settled in Ontario and the prairie provinces. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many important settlers to North America bearing the name Kleiner, or one of its variants above:

Kleiner Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Rudolf Kleiner, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1743
  • Rupert Kleiner, who landed in America in 1783

Kleiner Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Wilhelm Kleiner, aged 1, arrived in New York, NY in 1850
  • Elizabeth Kleiner, aged 23, arrived in New York, N Y in 1850
  • J Kleiner, aged 29, arrived in New York, NY in 1850
  • Paul Kleiner, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1854
  • Louis Kleiner, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1855


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  • Thom Kleiner, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 2004
  • Lee Kleiner, American politician, Candidate for Wisconsin State Senate 9th District, 1938
  • Robert I. Kleiner, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1964
  • Laura L. Kleiner, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Virginia State House of Delegates 20th District, 2011
  • John Jay Kleiner (1845-1911), American Democrat politician, Mayor of Evansville, Indiana, 1874-80; U.S. Representative from Indiana 1st District, 1883-87
  • Anne May Kleiner, American Democrat politician, Member of Michigan Democratic State Central Committee, 1961
  • A. Robert Kleiner, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Michigan State House of Representatives from Kent County 3rd District, 1960; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1964
  • Morris M. Kleiner (b. 1948), American professor of public affairs
  • John J. Kleiner (1845-1911), American politician, US Representative from Indiana
  • Israel Simon Kleiner (1885-1966), American biochemist

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  1. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  2. Tobler-Meyer, Wilhelm. Familiennamen der Ostschweiz. Zürich: 1894. Print.
  3. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  4. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  5. Strassburger, Ralph B. Pennsylvania German Pioneers The Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia 3 Volumes. Baltimore: Picton Press, 1992. Print. (ISBN 978-0929539980).
  6. Bahlow, Hans (Edda Gentry trns). Dictionary of German Names . Madison, Wisconsin: Max Kade Institute, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-924119-35-7).
  7. Bahlow, Hans and Edda Gentry. Translation Dictionary of German Names 2nd Edition. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 2002. Print.
  8. Bahlow, Hans. Deutschlands geographische Namenwelt Etymologisches Lexikon der Fluss- und Ortsnamen alteuropaischer Herkunft. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1985. Print.
  9. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  10. Rolland, and H.V. Rolland. Illustrations to the Armorial general by J. B. Rietstap 6 volumes in 3. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1976. Print.
  11. ...

The Kleiner Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Kleiner Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 6 October 2015 at 10:30.

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