This surname of BAUMGARTEN was a Jewish and German topographic or occupational name for someone who owned or lived by an orchard, or was employed in one. The name was originally derived from the German BAUMGARTEN with the elements BOUM (tree) and GARTO (enclosure). There are several villages named with this word, and so in some cases the surname may have originated as a habitation name from one of these. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. The name is also spelt Baumgard, Baumgardt and Baumgarte. When traditional Jews were forced to take family names by the local bureaucracy, it was an obligation imposed from outside traditional society, and people often took the names playfully and let their imaginations run wild by choosing names which corresponded to nothing real in their world. No one alive today can remember the times when Jews took or were given family names (for most Ashkenazim this was the end of the 18th century or the beginning of the 19th) although many remember names being changed after emigration to other countries, such as the United States and Israel in recent years. A notable member of the name includes Alexander Gottlieb BAUMGARTEN (1714-1762) the German philosopher, born in Berlin. In 1740 he became professor of philosophy at Frankfurt-an-der-Oder. His main works are 'Metaphysica' (1739) and 'Aesthetica' (1750-58) a long unfinished treatise which pioneered this field and helped establish the modern term 'aesthetics'.
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