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BECKER Family History

This surname may be of German, Dutch, Danish and English origin. It is a Berufsname or occupational surname, originating in the Middle High German root noun ?becke?, modern German ?der Bäcker? or ?baker?. This occupation was a crucial one: the name was applied to those who baked not only bread, but also bricks and tiles. The English origin is quite separate, and comes from a manufacturer of pickaxes.

The surname may also be Jewish (Ashkenazic).

It is probable that the majority of people with the German surname Becker receive their name from the traditional bakers in towns and villages in medieval times; it is almost the archetypal image of medieval life- the hard working baker, providing the people?s staple diet of bread.

The surname is found in great numbers in western Germany: Hamburg, Hannover in Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfallen, Hessen, Saarland and Trier; but also in Berlin. Most authorities place this surname?s rank in Germany at 9th. although some sources put it at 8th.

A few Becker emigrants arrived in the U.S.A. in the latter part of the 17th century in New York, although these were almost certainly Dutch. In the early 18th century German bearers arrived in New York and New Jersey. More German speaking Beckers came to Pennsylvania from the beginning of the 19th century.

By the time of the U.S. Federal Census of 1920, the states of New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania had the highest percentages of Becker.

In the U.S.A. Becker is ranked at 315 in the list of most popular surnames, with a population of 88, 114. (Social Security Data).

Two Famous Beckers

Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907) born in Dresden-Friedrichstadt, Germany. Paula was one of the early exponents of Expressionism, whose paintings have an uncanny power and beauty, e.g. Die Malerin mit Kamelienzweig (Selbstporträt), 1907.
Robert Otto Becker (1923-2008) born in New Jersey, was an orthopedic surgeon and researcher into bioelectricity. He worked for much of his professional life in the State University of New York, as well as being Director of Orthopedic Surgery at the Veterans Administration Hospital, Syracuse, New York. His research challenged the prevailing view that electro-magnetic radiation is safe; he led the early opposition to high-voltage power lines.

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