Klein Surname Genealogy

is the German and Dutch name for “small,” often used to designate the
younger person in the family. In Germany
it had come to be used by the
13th century
as a family name. The
Yiddish equivalent is kleyn. Germans
and Jews both brought the name to
Name variants have been Kline
and Cline (although Cline in America will sometimes have come from the

Klein Resources on

Klein Ancestry

The Klein numbers in Germany total some 140,000 today. The name is most common in the western part
of the country, as well as in Luxemburg and Alsace Lorraine.

America. Kleins immigrated
to America but during the 18th century they often
anglicized their name to Kline or Cline.
This was the case with the Kleins from Alsace Lorraine that
migrated to
Pennsylvania and North Carolina and were captured in George Cline’s
2003 book The Cline Families of North Carolina.

Other early presences were:

  • Hieronymous
    Kline who left New York about 1710 and was among
    the earliest Palatinate settlers in New Jersey. Some
    records show that he was the great grandson of
    Jan Cornelisson Klyn who came over from Holland to New Amsterdam about
  • and Martinus Cline who
    was born
    in the Mohawk
    valley in upstate New York of German immigrant parents in 1742. Adam Kline started a knitted goods factory in
    this area in the 1850’s and later served as a state senator.

The 1920 census
showed Klines clustered
in Pennsylvania where there had been early immigration, Kleins in New
where immigration occurred later, and Clines more widely spread

Among later Klein arrivals were:

  • Mathias
    who came to Chicago from the Rhine Palatinate in
    1855. He started Klein Tools there which still flourishes as a
    company under the fifth generation of Kleins.
  • and Max Klein who arrived from Bavaria in 1859, fought on the
    Union side in the Civil War, and ended up in Pittsburgh where he became
    one of its leading wholesale liquor distributors.

There was a wave of German immigration into the newly
formed Republic of Texas in the 1840’s and 1850’s. Their
numbers included Stephen Klein
and his family who established their farm along the
banks of the Santa Clara creek. Adam Klein and his wife Frederika
arrived from Stuttgart in 1854 and the township of Klein near Houston
was named after them. Adam’s descendants have remained in the
locality. Their history was recounted in Diana Severance’s 1999
book Deep Roots, Strong Branches.

Jewish Klein immigrants came mainly to New York. Notable among them were:

  • Louis and Gussie Klein who came to the Lower
    East Side from Hungary in the 1890’s. Their
    son Arthur trained as a lawyer and was
    elected to Congress in 1941 where he was to be a fixture for the next
  • Samuel Klein who
    arrived in New York from Russia with his parents
    at about the same time. He it was who
    started in 1906 a discount store on Union Square which proudly
    displayed a huge
    sign above it: “S. Klein on the Square.” That
    sign remained a city landmark until 1975.
  • Isaac Klein who came to New York from
    with his parents in 1921. He became an
    rabbi and halakhic authority in the city.
  • and Stephen Klein, a chocolate
    manufacturer in Vienna, who fled the Nazi invasion of his country in
    1938 for
    New York. He soon started the Barton
    chocolate company in Brooklyn which remained with the Klein family

second and third generation Kleins in
New York have been the fashion designer Calvin Klein and the
Carole King (born Carol Klein).

Phil Klein, who grew up in New Jersey, was a Communist
sympathizer who followed his brother Izzy and joined Disney as an
animator. He got fired in 1941 for trying
to organize his fellow animators and went to work at a shipyard instead. His son Michael was a war resister at the
time of the Vietnam War who departed for Canada in 1967.
His grand-daughter Naomi, born there in 1970,
has become a controversial social activist and writer, best known for
her book No Logo.

Andrew Klein had emigrated from Germany to
Canada in 1906 and became a homesteader in Alberta.
His son Philip was a one-time wrestler and a
drifter who quickly separated from his wife.
Their son Ralph Klein,
brought up in Calgary, became its immensely popular mayor and served as
Alberta’s premier from 1992 to 2006.

A.M. Klein, born in Poland in 1909, came to Montreal
as an infant with his immigrant parents and grew up in the Jewish
there. He is widely considered the
founding father of
Canadian-Jewish literature

Klein Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Klein Names

A. M. Klein was a noted 20th century Canadian poet, journalist,
and short story writer.
, born Hannah Golofski, was an American fashion designer who
her own women’s sportswear and apparel label.

Patsy Cline
, the
chosen name of Virginia Hensley,
was an acclaimed American country singer of the early
1960’s who died at a young age in a plane crash.
Lawrence Klein was an American
economist awarded the Nobel Prize in 1990 for his work on econometric
Ralph Klein, nicknamed King Ralph, was
Alberta’s premier from 1992 to 2006
is the iconoclastic
American fashion designer who has established himself as a global brand.
is an American actor and comedian

Select Kleins Today

  • 3,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 75,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 13,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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