Stamping The Past (1)

Just recently I found myself day dreaming back in time. I don’t even know what the trigger was for this dreaming, but I found myself thinking about stamps. I know it’s not exactly a wild subject but what else can I say?

I’ve talked before about my Grandfather giving me a 1p stamp and a matchbox when I was about 3. That was my introduction to collecting stamps. I still have my school collection of stamps as well as the stamp tweezers I was given by a stamp dealer. I also still have this book.

Well before the pandemic I found myself in WH Smith’s wandering around the book section trying to locate something. As I was turning away I caught in my peripheral vision a stamp packet. Instead of moving on to locate what I was actually looking for, I moved towards the stamps. There I regressed to my childhood, where I had first encountered these packs of stamps.  I assume I had been standing for a while as I was aware of someone talking to me, a member of staff probably relieved that I eventually responded. I confirmed I was ok and said that I was remembering when I was a child and they sold these stamp packs, and I was pleased they still were. The staff member didn’t look interested so I looked away and the staff member made her escape. I stood for a while longer before moving back to the original search, realising I should have asked the staff member whilst I had the chance.

I eventually gave up the search, coming home and ordered from Amazon, but the thoughts of stamps kept entering my mind. I asked my husband if he had collected stamps as a child and he looked at me saying no, before commenting that didn’t I find collecting dead people (genealogically speaking) enough?

I went up to my office and pulled out the plastic lidded box which contained my stamps, carefully exploring the pages, and memories of building the collection. I had no intention of returning to my former hobby, but I still quite enjoy reading about stamps.

Putting the albums back into the lidded box & returning the box to the top of my bookcase, I looked at my list of things to do and sat at my desk. The first email I came to was from Warner’s, the publisher who produces FTM. I then spotted a reference to a stamp magazine, with a tempting offer for a subscription, I decided that the cost was so reasonable that I would sign up, but there would be no resurrection of collecting  stamps, unless there was a link to my One-Name or One-Place studies…..

Posted in Ephemera, Postcards & Stamps, Stamping the Past | 1 Comment

Genealogical Field Notes (1)

Created Julie Goucher - May 2021As I neared the finishing touches to the new Pharos course I am teaching, Researching Ancestors in Continental Europe I gathered up the last pile of notebooks in which resided some material for potential adding to the course material.

As I flicked the pages, it occurred to me that some of the smaller notes might be useful as blog posts. I shelved the idea for the next week or so and then found myself searching for a note that I knew I had written, but could not find so I could add to the lessons. When I eventually found the note, all 6 lines of it, I realised that I had spent 5 hours looking for it, though I had been side tracked several times.

For readers who might be thinking why not add it to the index in the notebook, I had, but it was not presented in a meaningful way; abbreviated for space saving purposes is fine, but the note does need to be written in a way that provides a clue! It also needed to be written legibly!

So over the coming weeks and months you will likely see these posts (placed in the category of Genealogical Field Notes) and you never know, you might even find something of interest!

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Why Study Surnames?

Image created Julie Goucher 2020 using

As any genealogist or family historian will tell you there are always more questions than answers and always a burning obsession to find out more, even if the odds are against a successful search.

There are a variety of reasons for researching a surname, here are just a few:

  • General curiosity about the surname.
  • Where does the surname come from?
  • My name is foreign, how did it get here?
  • Spellings of different surnames and are they related?
  • An attempt to demolish a genealogical brick wall.
  • By collecting all the references to a given name, it means that you do not necessarily miss your elusive ancestor.
  • …….the list is endless; and there is no right or wrong answer.
  • If you have questions about different surnames, the questions are likely different AND you might even find the answers to those questions is entirely different.

More than likely you will have already started your surname research before you become aware of the concept and before you have considered the basic foundations for a study.

What are the foundations? well here are a few things to consider:

  • Seek to understand the history of the surname
    • Where did it come from
    • What does it mean
    • How big might my study be?
  • What do you want to achieve by undertaking your study?
    • It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a firm idea, but begin thinking about it.

More details and information is covered in the Pharos Introduction to One-Name Studies course.

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A-Z Challenge 2021 – All about Surnames – P is for Publishing, Publicising, and Preserving One-Name and Surname Research

7 steps

Image created by Melody McKay Burton for Guild of One-Name Study 2019 from Surname Research Guide

Today we look at three of the seven elements of one-name studies that feature on the 7 steps image here – there is a great deal of overlap between the three elements and these are easily achieved when considered together.

Before we start, lets just look at a few considerations, as these might affect how you achieve these elements:

  • What are the aims of your study?
  • What do you want to happen to your research after you have joined your ancestors?
  • How can you share your research?:
    • with Guild members
    • with other researchers
    • with others, who may be curious and not genealogists or researchers

There are a number of options available and it is perfectly acceptable to use a mixture of those provisions available. I am aware that I am a Guild Trustee and Pharos Tutor, but before I was either of those, I was a genealogist and a surname researcher. There are lots of things that I wish I had known in the beginning and even now, I tweak my process and work method. Evolving our research is good practice and indicates our individual growth and awareness.

PROFILE PAGE – Members of the Guild benefit from having a profile page if they have registered a surname – here is mine for the Orlando study It is two years old and needs an update in places. The profile page is a platform that you can use to share material about your study. It can be updated as often as you would like and members can add images, text and even presentations if they wish. It is essentially YOUR space to publicise your study. I have set the profile to be retained by the Guild in the event that I cease being a Guild member.

WEBSITE – Members of the Guild with a registered study can apply to have a website hosted by the Guild free of charge. There are a few options available and you can read about those HERE. For those who have looked at my websites will see that I have elected to have my studies hosted by the Guild and when I join my ancestors the material will be preserved for others, whether they are actively researching the specific surname or whether they have taken their own research a step further and developed their own study.

Both of my sites are under construction and use TNG populated by uploading a GEDCOM file. The only cost I incurred beyond my annual membership was a one-off cost of a TNG licence of around $32 (USD).

BLOG – The latest part of the Guild’s suite of member provisions is having a blog hosted by the Guild using the WordPress structure. Essentially it is pretty much like this one, though this one is not hosted by the Guild currently. The provision is free of charge to members and the details are HERE.

All of these elements as I am sure you can see enable the publicising of a study, publishing of a study and preservation of it. There are a few other considerations which I have outlined here:

  • Some members go a step further and create a book, generated from their genealogical software.
  • Some might create a preservation such I have done and give that to genealogical groups or add to their profile. 
  • Some might choose to add their information to the Guild indexes as a way of publicising their study, as all additions are linked back to the member – A search for Butcher in the marriages of the world index which is public generated these results as you can see not all entries are mine, meaning I can connect with other members and swap information.
  • Some members might choose to provide a copy of their work to genealogical organisations where perhaps their surname is the commonly found, indeed they may choose to do this for several organisations – I plan to give a copy of my research to the Society of Genealogists in London in digital format for example.
  • Some members might choose to deposit their work in the Guild of One-Name Studies library and Archive. 

We are limited by our imaginations in how we tackle these elements, but however we choose to do it, make sure that your work does not end up in a recycling bin. A few years ago a student of the Introduction to One-Name Studies course passed away aged in their mid 50’s they had not left any instructions for their work and with the click of a finger the material was gone which is tragic. Please do not think that you cannot deposit incomplete work, you can. If we leave it until it is “complete” we may never do it, as a study is never really complete.

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A-Z Challenge 2021 – All about Surnames – O is for Origins of Surnames

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The Introduction to One-Name Studies course goes some way to explore the origins of surnames. Members of the Guild often explore the origins in relation to a specific surname, though that is not necessarily the only way to embark on a study. Other members might explore the origins of surnames in general or in relation to surnames in a specific country.

Research into the origins of a surname may well include the evolution of that surname across variants and other factors that might affect the surname. These might include, though not limited to:

  • Language
  • Dialects
  • Accents
  • Broad linguistic research (1)
  • Alphabet

Russia for example has over 100 languages with 27 of them being officially recognised in various regions across the country (2). Some countries adopted surnames quite late, Turkey for example did not pass a legislation stipulating that all citizens must have a fixed, hereditary surname until 1934. The Surname law went a step further, all surnames were to be Turkish surnames (3). Furthermore, it was forbidden that Armenian names could be used, nor could Greek, Slavic or Persian endings be appended to the chosen name. Neither could the name be duplicated in the same district.


(1) – Advanced One-Name Studies (Pharos course 902)

(2) – Tracing Ancestors in Continental Europe (Pharos course 750)

(3) – Tracing Ancestors in Continental Europe (Pharos course 750)

Posted in A-Z Challenge 2021 - All About Surnames, Genealogy, Introduction to One-Name Studies (Pharos course 901), Non-British Surnames, Variants, Deviants and Alias | Leave a comment

A-Z Challenge 2021 – All about Surnames – M is for Methodology of a One-Name Study & Surname Research

A2Z [2021] BADGE

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The Seven Pillars of a One-Name Study is a book that published by the Guild of One-Name Studies in 2012.  The book provides guidance of how to proceed with a study. Given the book is a decade old, it is a little dated and there is perhaps a reviewed sense of member benefits, and some elements that are worthy of consideration before focusing on the pillars.

7 steps

Image created by Melody McKay Burton for Guild of One-Name Study 2019 from Surname Research Guide

Whilst the title suggests that the pillars or steps are linear, they are more of a continuum, as this revised illustration hopes to portray.

The beginning of a study, tends to focus on what is called collect, but I prefer to refer to it as gather. It is not necessarily correct that this has to be the starting point, and it may well be that other factors present themselves meaning that the focus shifts from gather to analysis for example.

There is some overlap on several of these, in particular the last four. Communicate was originally referred to as respond, and linked to the responsibility of responding to all enquiries. Instead, communicate references the other ways people might contact a study, which includes social media. 

Developing a process of working through data, adding to software as well as looking at analysis and synthesis of that data. Encouragement is given to maintaining a research log, and to do lists. There is not a huge amount of process, but I do appreciate that it might appear that way when you first undertake a study, which also includes time management, citations and sources.

I have written about this previously, you can find those articles HERE and a number of these elements, along with examples can be found in the Introduction of One-Name Studies course.

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A-Z Challenge 2021 – All about Surnames – K is for Knowledge

Genealogy is all about facts. They underpin the very essence of what we do  as genealogists and family historians.

Created by Julie Goucher 2018 using

We follow the route as we aim to prove each hunch we have, to provide substance for the facts we identify. We record where and when we found the evidence to support our genealogical claim.

We become familiar with the words and writing of:

  • Citations,
  • References,
  • Sources,
  • End notes
  • Foot notes

Image created Julie Goucher 2020 using

We become knowledgeable and aware of what to use, when and why. We become familiar with the differences between an online data provider and a repository. knowing when to use what and why.

We explore books, websites, magazines, and listen to podcasts and webinars or Zoom meetings so we can expand our knowledge and add context to the facts we uncover. We may undertake an online course (or two) where we can not only learn around our offline lives, but connect with other students and share our learning experiences.

If we are very lucky we might even stop researching and bring together the facts and context and we have discovered, producing a meaningful article or blog post to share our findings and hopefully connect with others.

So whilst genealogy is all about facts, it is also about more than that. It is about the context of our ancestors lives. It is about fleshing out their bones and redeveloping their lives, considering what we know AND what we do not know.

It is about understanding them in their place and their time. 

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FHF Really Useful Show – Treasures of the Archives #ReallyUsefulShow

Treasures of the Archives (FFHS)On Saturday, I gave two instalments of the workshop, Treasures of the Archives at the FHF Really Useful Show, hosted by the Family History Federation.

To deliver the sessions, I adopted the method of a small presentation, of around 30 minutes followed by questions from the participants and then lastly with questions from the observers. The live workshops were not recorded, but the handout I provided is available to download from the show website whilst the link to this workshop is available. The handout also remains available on the Downloadable Document section of this site. The presentation and handout is copyrighted to myself, and researchers are able to download the handout for their own personal use. 

As I sat and scoped out the presentation there was much more material collated than I used and I have decided that I will feature some of the sites and the topic from time to time; with these posts being found HERE.

Posted in Genealogy, Presentations, Treasures of the Archives Series | 1 Comment

A-Z Challenge 2021 – All about Surnames – I is Indexes

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Many genealogists I am sure recognise the scenario that I am going to share here; We come across an index, either in database format or a book and immediately look to see if we spot one of “our” surnames – we cannot help ourselves! We may even go a step further, check to see if we recognise other people’s surnames. We grab a smart phone and take a picture to share with others. We may even go a step further still, and create a spreadsheet of material, after all these surnames belong to someone or a group of someone’s.

One of the great member benefits of the Guild of One-Name Studies is the selection of indexes available to members:

  • Scottish Index
  • Probate Index
  • Inscription Index ( available to the public)
  • Marriage Indexes
  • BMD Vault
  • Newspaper Index (available to the public)
  • Marriages of the World (available to the public)

You can see details HERE.

One of the useful things about the indexes is that not only can members share material with both members and non-members, but it is a great way of sharing an interest in a particular surname – any surname, not just a registered one.

As a search is done of the surname database the results show if a study has been registered, but also how many instances there are in the indexes. A search for BUTCHER for example shows the profile page (in need of an update!) and how many instances there are in the indexes. The Marriage index, gives a search result of 1478 between 1837 and 1945, and as a member I can go into the index and see the details about the marriage and have the facility of being able to contact the member who submitted the details. A search for ORLANDO reveals there are 28 submissions to the index, of which 27 were submitted by me!

Have you searched the Guild website to see if there are instances of your surname of interest in the indexes or registered as a study?

This is covered in the Pharos Introduction to One-Name Studies course as it is a great way of gathering information for a new study, or indeed established study.

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FHF Really Useful Show – Treasures of the Archives #ReallyUsefulShow

I was delighted to be asked to facilitate a workshop, Treasures of the Archives for Family Historians, at this online event hosted by the Family History Federation. There is a super array of lectures and workshops, plus virtual exhibitor stands.

I understand that there is no more participant spots, but there are observer spots available. It is still possible to purchase a ticket, and £10 is excellent value for such virtual event.

Whether you are a participant of an observer, there is plenty of time for questions and there will be a handout available.

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