I recently received an email from someone at the beginning of their One-Name or Surname Study. The email contained several questions, which I am going to split into four posts. This is post one.
The first questions is concerned with data collection or gathering.
“I am just beginning to expand data collection from my own family and I want to get things right from the beginning. Do you use software, Excel or genealogical software”
Firstly, there is no “right way” to start a study, there is only your way.
Now let us go back a step and I am going to list a few questions that are worthy of contemplation before you begin in earnest, because those answers will enable you to move forward.
- Watch the recording I recently did for the Guild (click the image below) download the accompanying Handout – What to look at that suits your study
- As you begin your study, consider how to you might want to share you material
- Consider the preservation of your study.
- Are you planning to have a separate database for your One-Name material which may include your own link to the family, or do you plan to simply have a file for your study, and your family in a separate file? Let me share my approach as an example:
- I use family history software and I have two files, one for my family and one for my study.
- I have a Guild of One-Name Studies Website Project site for each of my studies and both sites use TNG, which is a piece of software that effectively takes a GEDCOM file and displays it in a clear and worthy appearance for viewers.
- Both of my files are kept within my genealogical software, and I upload both of those files as GEDCOM files to my website. Anyone visiting the site and searching is able to search each file which are called Trees individually, or all trees.
- Having made those decisions let us look at my approach to collecting data, again offered as an example.
- Firstly, there is not perhaps a single method of collecting data. For me there is a varying approach depending on where the material is located:
- I might see instances of my surnames in books and want to capture that material, in which case I either add it to my notebook, along with the information of the book as the citation, and the date I accessed the book (and where the book is located).
- If I come across material online, depending on the way the material is presented capture the information which includes the URL and the date I saw the information and add copy it to either an Excel file (or similar spreadsheet) or a word document. It remains in that software, which I use as a holding pen until the material is entered into my genealogical database.
- I also enter the material into my research log, identifying any further tasks into my to do list.
- Some Guild members, locate material and enter it immediately into their database, missing my holding pen approach. They capture the citation etc at the same time.
- Try both methods, which one do you prefer? Don’t forget to try with a variety of material.
We discuss this and much more in the Practicalities of a One-Name Study course.