I recently had cause to contemplate the actual definition of a one place study. Having had the question presented I stopped, thought and debated.
I have an interest in three individual places
- Puttenham in Surrey (linked to the nearby parish of Wanborough). I have family connections to the parish from 1724.
- Sutera in Sicily which is central to my particular Orlando ancestry, Orlando being one of my one name studies
- Walnut Tree Close in Guildford Surrey linked to my family history, but the study started in 1984 before my genealogical interest became formalised.
In each of these studies I am interested in the people, places, buildings, occupations and much, much more.
In all three of these cases I am genealogically linked, but in a similar vein I am interested in the history of my house, but do not plan to proceed to the next level and study the town in which I live. The reason for that is that despite living here I do not feel a connection to the town.
Do you need to feel a “connection” to your study?
I don’t know if it is vital, but I think there needs to be an question or X factor, a link, a catalyst that makes us ask the question or at least be interested in the area. The moment we ask that question or we start digging into archives we are probably on the point of no return!
Over the years I have gathered information about Lockerbie in Scotland. I feel no particular connection to the town, but my husband does. It is also the site of the air disaster in 1988 and therefore I have been interested in the various aspects of the history of the area. I have visited the memorial gardens many times.
I say gardens because there are more than one. There is a central monument located at the cemetery to all those who lost their lives, over 270 people; all those on the plane and several residents whose lives and homes were desecrated as the fuselage came to rest on the ground in Lockerbie. There is a memorial garden located where the houses were and there is a memorial room at the nearby hamlet of Tundergarth where the majority of the fuselage came to rest.
So over the last 20 years I have visited the gardens, photographed the memorial and plaques and paid my respects with my husband. My husband lost a friend in the disaster. Despite that connection, albeit, third hand I have no interest on taking that interest to a more formal level.
There are other places, either towns or villages, specific buildings or buildings of a specific nature that hold an interest for me. The interest is there as perhaps peripheral research; flesh on the bones of other research.
I still have not come up with a definitive definition of a one place study and in broad terms I doubt anyone will. Each study will be different in terms of content and reasoning. There will obviously be common factors, such as the records available – parish records, census, maps; naming just a few.
Ultimately if you research for whatever reason an area, and gather a mixture of information depending on why your are researching, regardless if you are coming to the project with a genealogical or historical mindset, or a mixture of the two, then you are probably doing a one place study.