Show ContentsOppenheimer History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient German region of the Rhineland was the original home of the name Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer was a local name, a type of hereditary surname that identified people by the places where they lived. Landowners were the first to use local names, often attaching the prefix "von", meaning "of" or "from", in some cases as a mark of aristocratic birth. Local names are by far the most common style of German hereditary surname. Oppenheimer was a name for someone who lived in the region of Oppenheim in the town of Hesse, between Mainz and Worms. Oppenheimer is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties.

Early Origins of the Oppenheimer family

The surname Oppenheimer was first found in the Rhineland, where the name Oppenheim was closely identified in early mediaeval times with the feudal society that became prominent throughout Europe. The name later emerged as a noble family with great influence, having many distinguished branches that become noted for their involvement in social, economic and political affairs.

Early History of the Oppenheimer family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Oppenheimer research. Another 82 words (6 lines of text) covering the year 1867 is included under the topic Early Oppenheimer History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Oppenheimer Spelling Variations

One can encounter great variation in the spelling of surnames: in early times, spelling in general, and thus the spelling of names was not yet standardized; and later, spellings would change with branching and movement of families. Variations of the name Oppenheimer include Oppenheim, Openheim, Oppennheim, Opennheim, Oppenheime, Oppenheimm, Oppenheimer and many more.

Early Notables of the Oppenheimer family

More information is included under the topic Early Oppenheimer Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Oppenheimer Ranking

In the United States, the name Oppenheimer is the 16,792nd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [1]

United States Oppenheimer migration to the United States +

Hundreds of thousands of Europeans, including many Rhinelanders, made the voyage to North America between the 17th and 20th centuries. It was an escape from religious persecution and poverty and also an opportunity for people to start over and own their own land. Most landed at Ellis Island, off New York before moving on to the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, and California. Some also landed in Canada and settled in Ontario, while others headed west to the prairie provinces. A study of passenger and immigration lists has shown a number of people bearing the name of Oppenheimer, or one of its variants, reaching North America shores very early:

Oppenheimer Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Benjamin Oppenheimer, who landed in America in 1830 [2]
  • Joel Oppenheimer, aged 22, who landed in New York, NY in 1848 [2]
  • Simon Oppenheimer, aged 55, who landed in New York, NY in 1848 [2]
  • Charles Oppenheimer, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [2]
  • Amalie Oppenheimer, aged 20, who landed in America in 1854 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Oppenheimer (post 1700) +

  • Gerald J. Oppenheimer (1922-2016), born Julius Oppenheimer, a German-born, American librarian and scholar, Director of the Health Sciences Library at the University of Washington (1963-1987)
  • Lillian Rose Vorhaus Kruskal Oppenheimer (1898-1992), American origami pioneer
  • Kay Oppenheimer, American politician, Member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives (2006-)
  • Joshua Lincoln Oppenheimer (b. 1974), American film director
  • Joel Lester Oppenheimer (1930-1988), American poet associated with both the Black Mountain poets and the New York School
  • Jessurun James "Jess" Oppenheimer (1913-1988), American radio and television writer, producer, and director, head writer of the CBS sitcom I Love Lucy
  • Daniel M. Oppenheimer, American associate professor of psychology at the UCLA Anderson School of Management
  • Damon T. Oppenheimer (b. 1962), American Vice President and Director of Amateur Scouting for the New York Yankees
  • Ben R. Oppenheimer, American astrophysicist, curator of the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History
  • Alan Oppenheimer (b. 1930), American character actor and voice actor
  • ... (Another 9 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  1. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  2. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8) on Facebook