In an earlier post I talked about strategy, breaking it down into ten segments. Today I am going to write a about focus elements of a project, essentially this is segment four. You can read the strategy series HERE.
In addition to gathering genealogical data for your surname or place. You can also do a number of other things that add to the foundations of such a study.
One of the things you might look at is the distribution of the surname over time across a particular country or even across the globe. Factors to consider are the mass migration to countries such as Australia, United States and Canada for example from continental Europe and what was the catalyst for that migration at different time frames. Equally you might look at the distribution of a surname across parts of an Empire – migration from the United Kingdom for example to Countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. You might be focusing on an Irish surname, in which case you might see a surge in the 1840’s to the United States, or from Wales to parts of South America. What do those factors mean for a study? Another focus might be a surname that is specifically found in a particular part of the Country and then appears in another random part of the country – are those groups linked? and would could have caused the migration – lack of rural work and increase work availability in factories. Alternatively, when did the railway appear in the area and was that a catalyst for movement?
Other factors are the history of the surname and it’s origins. What type of surname is it? What does the place name mean? Is a particular surname used also as a place name and is that it’s foundations? What about immigrants coming into another country – are their surnames retained, either through choice or through actively altering the name so that it sounded “less foreign” and what time frame might that have appealed to immigrants?
Depending on the type of surname, your research and hypothesis might be different. It would be useful to document down what conclusions you have come to at a particular time. If, at some point in the future your thoughts and conclusions change about the place name or surname, I would document it and date the information, leaving in place the earlier conclusions. That demonstrates to others the evolution of such a study and that is quite important too.
I recommend writing where you plan to search for information on the history or distribution of the surname, what books, software and websites and are those good choices?
All of these factors enable us to dig deep as we research people of the same surname or a location. What appears to be insignificant can actually be a nougat that sets us on a pathway of discovery.
I will be back tomorrow, discussing the value of a research log and plan. Where to record those nougats that set us off on a research path. We discuss some of these elements on the Introduction to One-Name Studies course.