Saturday, July 14, 2007



The Dudelsack was once perhaps the most widespread bagpipe in Europe. German-speaking people today still often apply the name generically to all bagpipes, though the correct word is “sackpfife” (literally, sackpipe). An ancient instrument, it is seen - sometimes in considerable detail - in a large number of early paintings including some great masterpieces. At some point, probably in the nineteenth century, it seems to have all but vanished. There exists today only one early specimen, in an Austrian museum, and there is some controversy about how old all or parts of that pipe are. Nevertheless it has been possible to reconstruct the Dudelsack through a combination of study of early paintings and music, and today it enjoys a great revival evidenced by many players and numerous makers. - Source

I have ancestors who were named Dudelsack. They were from Poland/Russia, and not Germany, but as the snippet above indicates, the musical instrument was widespread. I’m not sure if it means they were musicians, instrument makers, or whether someone resembled a bagpipe in a appearance. They changed their name when they entered the US.

It’s a pretty rare name. In the US 1920 census, there were 2 Dudelsacks. Jacob, and his wife, Ida. On the ship manifests from the 1880s-1910s, 30-40 different Dudelsacks arrived in the US. It appears only Jacob kept his name. Jacob must have been extremely proud of his ancestry. I have no idea if I’m related; he appears to have come from Austria, and my Dudelsack ancestor didn’t.

The other possible reason for the ‘disappearance’ is that all the Dudelsacks who arrived in the US suffered massive spelling errors on the various census. It’s not an easy name to spell. At, my ancestor is listed under ‘Dudersack’, and a possible brother under ‘Dudelsuck’. In the 1920 census, there is one family of Doodlesseks in Massachussets.

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