Research & Resources for Researching Surnames – Advent Introduction

December is here again. The year of 2020 has been a strange year and whilst there have been lots of sad and horrible moments, there has been some stable & enjoyable moments too.

I planned earlier in the year to create an Advent post for December, the focus is on Research and Resources methods and snippets for researching surnames. Day 1 will be posted shortly.

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Research & Resources for Researching Surnames – Advent Day 1

The first resource I am going to share is the Guild of One-Name Studies website. The website is host to a lot of data and the numerous benefits of membership. It is also the place where you can find the profile page that goes alongside the various registered studies.

Despite being a member for almost 20 years I often stumble across something that I did not know was there. Whether you are a member or not, do take a look at the website; you might be surprised at what you can find. If you find something of interest why not leave a comment.

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Mobility and Morbidity…A Project for the Future

Copyright – Julie Goucher 2020

I have just published a long overdue news post on the Guild of One-Name Studies website. The subject matter was the recent seminar series which sees the Guild releasing a presentation every week from the beginning of October until mid November.

The first session was from Elizabeth Green on the subject of Mortality and Morbidity and this was one that I heard recorded about a week before it was released to the genealogical world.

This was a provoking presentation, focusing on one of the key marker stones in the lives of our ancestors; deaths and death certificates. Following watching the presentation, I pulled out the death certificates that I have in my records and I could see some similarities and that research needs more work and I may well share elements of that research here… the future. Elizabeth’s presentation is still available to non-members of the Guild for another week or so – you can see the recording HERE

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LibraryThing – #LibrariesWeek

I joined LibraryThing back in October 2005, paying the fee of $25 for a lifetime account which enabled me to list more than 200 books. (The fee was removed circa 2019).

My plan was to catalogue all of my books, reading lists plus the other material relevant, essentially things like microfiche and data CD’s. You can view my LibraryThing Profile HERE.

I have set my books up into collections:

  • My Library – Books that I own
  • Wish List – Potential future reading
  • Audio, DVD and Video (and I have an occasional  audio tape!)
  • To Read – the to be read list
  • Read, but un-owned – those that I have borrowed from friends or the library or books that I owned but subsequently donated
  • Book Reviews
  • SPG – These are typically my husband’s book which are essentially about fish and fishing
  • Mum’s – These are my late Mum’s and are currently a work in progress
  • Current Library Books – (in an attempt to track books and reduce library fines!)

I also use Tags – In all there are 53, but here is a few – Fiction, History, Genealogy, Biography, Memoir, eBooks, Cookery Food & Drink, DNA, Italy, Historical Fiction, Quilts etc. You can see my Tags HERE.

You can read about LibraryThing HERE and open an account, free of charge to catalogue your own books. There is an App that can be downloaded and is available for both iOS and Android platform. It is also possible to Import and Export from LibraryThing. Information can be found HERE


Libraries Week takes place in the UK from 5 – 10  October. You can read more HERE. You can become a lifelong library supporter – more details HERE

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Library Memories #LibrariesWeek

An unidentified library. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

As I looked for something yesterday I came across my school reports from my middle school. Along with them was a letter thanking me for a donation to the school library, the year I left middle school, which was 1981.

The middle school did not have a library. I know that sound crazy, especially when I have said I made a donation to it and if no library then why this post? I cannot recall if the school was short on space, but the books that you would have expected to be in a library were on shelves which ran around the walls on the landing, opposite the stairs.

The book I donated to the book was about the Philippines. The school had a very good selection of books that were about numerous global locations. I seem to recall having to create a worldwide project for geography, which likely explains the book I selected.

In comparison, my senior school did have a library. It was not huge, but the school only had 1200 pupils. I spent quite a lot of time there, especially over the lunch period clutching my school diary which I have written about before. It was the beginning of my journal writing journey; and if you are interested you can read that post HERE. It was here that I developed my writing strategy, which at this point was not perfect, but it has developed further, over the years, whether that was homework, lesson notes, reports, thesis planning and post graduate work. I would head to the library and quickly scope out what work I needed to do and when it was to be done by. I would have preferred to remain in the class room, but that was not an option, so the next best place was the library as that was relatively quiet. I assume there was a librarian, but I don’t recall one.

Of course I was at school before the days of smart phones, actually it was the days before mobile phones now I think about it, given that, it is little wonder that I have no photographs of the library and today’s image is from the image site Unsplash.


Libraries Week takes place in the UK from 5 – 10  October. You can read more HERE. You can become a lifelong library supporter – more details HERE

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Favourite Genealogical Library – Society of Genealogists #LibrariesWeek

Cover of the Library guide, purchased 1989. From the collection of Julie Goucher

The ultimate genealogical library  in the UK in my view is the Society of Genealogists. I first visited in 1989 and purchased a small booklet about the Society which provided a brief guide; the location and directions, what is available to visitors across three floors. It offered guidance on preparing for a visit and included a small map, identifying where about, on each floor various things are. The booklet proved invaluable.

I did not visit for a number of years, but upon restarting visits, I undertook a library tour. These are given free of charge and really help to familiarise yourself with the material and where it is. I also renewed my membership which meant that I could visit as often as I wished, which was frequently as I lived within 40 minutes of London. Upon moving to the south west of England, I sadly lapsed my membership, work pressures, and a much longer journey made a visit more tricky. A changing work schedule meant that I could rejoin and was very pleased I did, even though I have moved to the other end of the country and have a longer journey to London, but a quicker one.

The Society has a website and whilst it is not as slick as some, it is a good genealogical resource, including holding a continually growing members area with an amazing amount of material for the genealogist and those who are working on specific projects, including One-Name Studies. The Society also has a robust educational platform, of course the current situation means that they have other elements to consider beyond the worries of handouts and a prompt lecturer!

The Society, moved from no online meetings to a very successful online provision for members and non-members. I was delighted that was to be the case. One of the first sessions I heard was looking at the numerous collections available, I then followed that up with Special Collections; both of these were offered and given by the SOG, I have also attended another sessions and several of the lunchtime chat’s. The SOG has indeed embraced their new opportunity. Lock down also meant that the volunteers have been very productive in working through material, indexing from digital images with the aim of getting the material online and into the members room.

Why not visit the Society of Genealogists website and explore .


Libraries Week takes place in the UK from 5 -10  October. You can read more HERE. You can become a lifelong library supporter – more details HERE

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Pharos One-Name Studies & Surname Courses

© Julie Goucher – September 2020

I hope you all like the new image, it is not a Picasso, but was enjoyable to create. The hardest bit, making sure that I have the little squares nice and tidy. Given that I am clumsy, you can guarantee that I knock the cutting mat, sending little alphabet tiles everywhere! The image reflects the three one-name (Surname) courses that I teach and together, they offer a layered learning approach.

The Introduction course (901) looks at the  first steps of a study, thinking about the types of surnames, the numbers of a study and the history of surnames are just a few of the elements covered. The Practicalities of a One-Name Studies course (903) looks at the practical element of a study, spreadsheets, various software and online trees, plus much more. The last course currently is the Advanced course (902) which looks at, to name a few, surname case studies, plus writing, sharing and getting published.

The courses are either 5 or 6 weeks, all have a weekly chats, with the Practicalities course having a practice week and the Advanced course a reading & research week. The Introduction and the Practicalities course both run twice a year and the Advanced course currently runs once a year. Even though the courses have all run previously, there is always upbeat learning, sharing of material and a camaraderie that Guild of One-Name Studies members will recognise.

For those of you who I might have tempted and are wondering where to start, I recommend you have a look through the numerous surname posts I have written, all of which can be found HERE and download the Surname Worksheet and then read the individual course information, which you can access by clicking the links above. If you have any questions, please do leave a comment.

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Genealogical Libraries – #LibrariesWeek

I talked about Guildford library yesterday and we stay with that location for today’s post.

Guildford library housed, when I began my genealogical and local history research, a rather fantastic set of local history material located on the top floor of the library. Despite it’s location it was in fact part of the Surrey Records Office, which also housed material at the Muniment Room, Guildford and at Kingston upon Thames.

I remember tentatively reaching the top floor and  found there was an open section of local history books etc and a enclosed area which housed the archive element of the collection. I explained to the librarian, who was called Mavis, what I wanted and suddenly a new world of material was available to me. Mavis was an inspirational individual, had she been less helpful or less welcoming I might not have ever gone back, but she was fantastic and it was her actions that set me on the pathway of genealogy, family and local history. Every genealogist should have a Mavis in their memory bank!

It was Mavis who shared my joy when I located my Great Grandmother, aged 3 on the 1881 Census. What was so magical, was that I remember my Great Grandmother, who allowed me to snuggle with her, aged 3, when I visited with my Mum and Grandparents. By then, Granny as she was known was an elderly lady in her 90’s and living with her eldest daughter (my Grandfather’s sister) and her husband. I have many happy memories of those visits both as a snuggling 3 years old and as an note book holding adult, recording numerous genealogical notes.

As I reflected when I wrote this post, we have come a long way since then. At the time, the latest Census available was 1881. I remember the subsequent release of each of the 1891, 1901 and 1911 Census, and of course, the 1921 Census release is just around the corner. These days, we can search our census records from the comfort of our homes, dressed in our PJ’s if we like. In the days of my experience of locating Granny in the 1881 Census, we had to visit the archives to search those Census materials. We extracted the film from the box and loaded it to the reader, threading the film. We moved through the film until we found who we wanted to locate, some of us letting out a small exclamation of “got you!” Those of us who were regulars at the Guildford local studies library recognised each other and often enjoyed conversations and shared the joy of those “got you!” moments.

I spent many hours at that local studies library, researching my Surrey family and those from the parishes of North Hampshire. I was very lucky to have such easy access to such a repository. Years later the library moved across to the newly build Surrey History Centre and whilst it was great to have everything in the new one stop shop for Surrey heritage, those days with Mavis and the other staff were great, the knowledge of the material and locations was second to none. They were enjoyable years, but whether it is the years of the late 1980’s or yesterday, we are lucky to have the expertise of librarians and archivists. The contribution they make is huge and they are often under valued.


Libraries Week takes place in the UK from 5 – 10  October. You can read more HERE. You can become a lifelong library supporter – more details HERE

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Library Memories – #LibrariesWeek

When I close my eyes I can still remember Guildford library(1); as it was when I was a child. The library didn’t just have books, but a fascinating card system which housed the card from the book that subsequently was inserted into a small card folder. When you returned books, you were given round Cardboard discs that you could exchange for books. The books had a stamp inserted in the front, so you knew when to return them. The whole experience was wonderful to my childhood self. Occasionally, the librarian allowed me to stamp out the books, something that just added to the wonderful experience.

Mum would take me to the library frequently, there I could immerse myself in another world. It wasn’t just the library that fed my book habit. Each week I was allowed to choose a new book, from Woolworths or WH Smiths, I still have some of those books, complete in some series with the price ticket of 12p, a lot for the early 1970’s. Before I could read, both my maternal Grandmother and Mum would read to me. We explored the fictional lives of the characters within the pages of Enid Blyton books amongst others, some books read repeatedly. I would fall asleep to dream of the wonders of Rupert the Bear (2), Peter Rabbit (3) or Noddy(4)

When we moved in together, my now husband was horrified at the boxes of books. His face was picture of horror as the boxes filled our home. Over the years since, I have had several book culls, to charity shops and friends. Even now I have way to many books and I am in the middle of the latest cull, much to my husband’s relief. Of course the cull is simply to make room for the several stacks of books that are on my office floor.

Then along came a Kindle, from Amazon. Whilst the whole experience of having a book in your hand is wonderful; the feel and smell of books triggers happy memories, alas they take up space, whereas a Kindle has an invisible electronic room, ready to be filled with books. I only download to my iPad the books I am currently reading, and a few reference type books. I won’t share how many Kindle books there are, but let’s just say I have a substantial “few”.

I have never grown tired of books. If I am not buying books, I am reading books, or adding them to my to be read list. My iPhone’s camera role is filled with images of book covers, saved so I do not forget to check out a book.

You can never have too many books, just too few book cases!

  • (1) Guildford is located in Surrey, England
  • (2) Rupert the Bear by Mary Tourtel (formerly Caldwell)
  • (3) Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
  • (4) Noddy by Enid Blyton
  • (5) Kindle by Amazon


Libraries Week takes place in the UK from 5 – 10  October. You can read more HERE. You can become a lifelong library supporter – more details HERE

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Guild of One-Name Studies Widening Horizons Seminar

Courtesy of the Guild of One-Name Studies – September 2020

The Guild of One-Name Studies is renowned for their quarterly seminars. COVID-19 has prevented seminars from taking place in the usual format.

This latest seminar is a collaboration with The Local Population Studies Society and launches on Wednesday 7th October at 8pm London (UK) time.

You can read about the webinar line up and register for ALL the various presentations HERE. The series is available to everyone FREE of charge and will be available for 14 days before becoming a Guild members’ benefit.

The first presentation, Mortality and Morbidity: a study of National Registration death certificates for two families 1837-2009 by Elizabeth Green is truly a fascinating account. All genealogists can most certainly benefit from hearing this fascinating talk, looking at one of the basic elements of genealogy. You will not look at death certificates in the same light again! I was fortunate to hear this talk a week or so ago and highly recommend it. It is in my top 5 of webinars for 2020, not only was the subject matter fascinating, but Elizabeth was delightful to listen to.

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