Over the course of the last few Introduction to One-Name Studies courses I have been asked a number of questions and thought that it was worth sharing them here. Over the course of the next few weeks I will share the questions and subsequent discussion. I hope you find it interesting.
The first thing to consider is:
- What project do you want to undertake? – What is it that makes X fascinating to you that you want to explore more in-depth? This could be a One-Name Study or a One-Place Study. Researching a house,business, school etc.
- How are you going to achieve your quest? – How many hours do you have available to undertake the project? It does not need to be a lot, you might be working full time with a family and still want to undertake a project of this kind. Or you might be retired and have an abundance of time available. Perhaps consider working with others who share the same interest, or maybe you already have a body of work that you are using as your basis for the project.
- Plan the Structure of your Project – This will likely depend on what your project is and your starting data. You might be researching a Surname that you know originates in Ireland and you reside in the United States. Establish how big the surname is, look at migration points – where folk migrated to and how they did. Look at what material is available online and with easy access. Bear in mind that only a fraction of what is available is online. Given that the fact that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was one Country until 1922, you might find that records exist in both the archives of Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. Given that and the geographical distance from Ireland to England, you could look at FreeBMD and search for your surname. How many are there? You might also consider HOW you are going to keep data that you find? – input directly into a genealogical programme or downloaded to a hard drive or copied into a note book or even create a spreadsheet. FreeBMD data can be exported as a CSV file and imported directly into Excel.
- Focus on the elements of a project – This might include the distribution of the surname, using a mapping site such as public profiler or Surname Atlas. It might include the origin of the surname and the type of surname it is. For each element I recommend a plan to be written. It does not have to be fancy, just a note of what you plan to do.
- Create & Maintain a Research Log – This is really important as it enables you to track what you have looked at and what you have found, so be sure to record positive AND negative results.
- Managing Research Results is important, otherwise you will drown in data. Decide how you are going to process your data – enter it straight into a family history programme, or an Excel file. You could add to Evernote or One-Note. There is no right or wrong way, find what is best for you. Make sure that you record the citations of the information you find, perhaps this is a newspaper article, or information from a parish record, the purpose of a citation is essentially to share with others where you saw the information, so that they, if they wish can follow your research.
- Connecting with others – This is really important. Firstly you get to share your journey with others and you can connect with others who might share the same interest. You could set up a Facebook Group (or Page, although I prefer Groups). You might use a Twitter account, you might join organisations such as the Guild of One-Name Studies or Society of One-Place Studies, you could add your place to the Register for One-Place Studies. Another avenue to explore is the facilities of archives, libraries or museums – if your surname “hotbed” or place is located in a particular County check out the archives, include local museums and share your interest with them. They might help you connect with others with the same interest.
- Bring your data together – in this element we are concerned with family reconstruction, essentially putting families together, using primary source material. You can also draw out an individual timeline, such as I described HERE that way you can see what your individual was doing at a particular time and you can see what is missing and then consider where you could look for that data.
- Share Material – Having worked really hard to gather and expand your collected data, I would recommend enabling others to see it. You can do this in a variety of ways, write a blog, have a website, write articles, share stories via Facebook.
- Preserve Your Work – If you are a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies with a registered surname, you can signup to a Members Website Project. That enables you to advertise your study, display it for others and preserve it, all the while working on your project.
I am likely to write about these ten elements and how I undertake them in a project I am working on, so you have a working example to perhaps use as a guide.