Focus is really important in a One-Name Study, otherwise you will flit from individual to individual and not build up your study in a controlled and constructive manner. That said, there are no One-Name study police to come round and check your records!
The focus of your study will be different for each member of the Guild of One-Name studies. Maybe your focus is the United States because that is where you are, or perhaps Italy because that is where your surname of interest is found in substantial numbers, alternatively perhaps you focus on the quick wins of data collection to build a basis for your study. Anyone who has ever read anything I have ever written about the Orlando study will know that I focus on three places:
- Orlando’s in UK (where I am)
- Orlando’s in Sicily (where they were and are)
- Orlando’s in several US States (New York, Louisiana & Alabama) (where they went)
That does not mean I don’t focus on the rest, but these three focus points are my starting points for the reasons I have noted here. Italian is not my first language. It takes me three times as long to research there as it does in English and Italian involves more thinking! so I always have other research in my first language on the go to.
There are no right or wrong ways to build a study and you get to decide the focus point(s) for your study.
My advise to anyone at the beginning of their surname research and One-Name study journey is to decide your aims, consider your methods (and more on that later on in the series) and decide your focus point. None of us got it “right” at the beginning, like with anything our study evolves as does our experience and abilities. I have changed my methodology several times and that is OK too!
When I started my research there was no course such as the Introduction course that I teach. The course gives you a good grounding to understand a study and the different elements to consider and more on that too later on. “Your focus is my focus” is a line from the film, Karate Kid and even though karate and the topic of One-Names studies is poles apart there is a grain of truth there.
Anyone who listened to the Guild webinar in February and heard Paul Howes talk of his study would have heard him say that he runs his study like a business. So, Paul’s focus is what others want to focus on. Genealogists who have a connection to the Howes surname probably do a search online for the surname of Howes. They find the Howes website and then search for their individual Howes ancestor. The site provides a huge amount of information and I personally believe that we should all aspire to that, me included. Paul wanted to produce a website that gave value for money for researchers – it does indeed give value for money as anyone can visit the website and see information and evidence totally free of charge.
By having that focus and achieving that website it also provides scope for others to submit to the study. I have a number of Butcher & Howes marriages, as I have similar overlap with a number of other Guild members. Paul and I have shared & pooled resources and that is a great way to collaborate with others, both Guild and non-members alike. Even members without any ability to create a website can achieve one by signing up to the Members Website Project which is a member benefit, and more on that later in this series.
What is your focus and has your vision of focus changed in anyway?