One-Name Studies & Seven Pillars: Collect (1)


Created January 2015 by Julie Goucher using Wordle

Five years or so ago, I wrote a series about the general features and decisions to be made when someone gathers a collection, irrespective of what that collection might be of. A few weeks ago a reader of this blog contacted me, having read that original series and asked if I had considered updating it. I hadn’t at the time, but promised to look into it. As I did so, I realised that whilst I wrote originally with a view to ephemera, that we might gather to illustrate the places where our ancestors lived or similar, that actually the same questions could be said of the first stage of undertaking a One-Name or surname study. Indeed, it was reasonably timely, as I was about to go into further details of the Seven Steps of a One-Name Study to coincide with my Family Tree Magazine Series.

According to Christopher Bart in “Industrial firms and the power of mission” Industrial Marketing Management 26 (4) pp 371 – 383 there are three key elements.

  1. Key Market – Who is the chosen item aimed at?
  2. Contribution – What does the chosen item provide to the wider audience?
  3. Distinction – What makes the chosen item unique over others?

These three elements do not exactly fit a collection or a One-Name study, but they go some way to present a suitable structure of key indicators. In my experience as a family and local historian, a collection forms as a natural stage of research. I do not believe that any of us make a conscious decision to collect every postcard of X, every piece of pottery made by X or every occurrence of a name in a location or of every instance of every name in a location.

A collection quite simply happens, a result of a catalyst. In which case why did it happen and how are you going to deal with it in the future? There might also be overlap between one collection and another or even more than one.

Things to consider and undertake:
  • How do you recognise a collection?
  • How did the collection come to be created and by whom?
  • Who is it created for and why? and has that changed over time?
  • How will it be maintained or grow?
  • How will it be accessed by others?
    • Does it need to be?
  • How will you advertise your collection?
  • How do you ensure the longevity of your collection?
  • How is the collection kept?
  • How will you ensure copyright and ownership issues are protected and addressed?
  • Do others have any investment in the collection? (investment does not necessarily mean financial)
  • Is the collection unique?

Indeed, those questions and the answers are part of the history of the collection and mean something to the person who collated it, but what about future generations? Will they know why such a collection exists? They may have a guess, but they won’t necessarily know, that is unless you tell them, either directly or indirectly.

So over the coming week or so I am going to be answering some of the points above and exploring the seven steps in more details. So I am going to leave today’s post with this image of the Seven Steps so you can be ready to follow along.

Seven Pillars Higher Res

Courtesy of the Guild of One-Name Studies –

About Julie Goucher

Genealogist, Author, Presenter, native Guildfordian, avid note taker and journal writer. Lover of Books, Stationery & History; Surnames, Butcher & Orlando One-Name Studies. Pharos Tutor for all One-Name Studies/surname courses as well as Researching Ancestors from Continental Europe.
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