Working with UNCONNECTED People in a Genealogical Database

© Julie Goucher, Dec 2020

This is a long awaited post, requested by several Pharos students….(sorry for the wait!).

Working with unconnected people in a genealogical database is one of the biggest issues for those with surname projects, or One-Name Studies.

I personally struggled with this in my early days, and my way of coping with this obstacle was to “hitch” people together – I use a marriage, whereas others might use a census.

The reason I use a marriage is that you have less people to deal with when compared to a census. Those with studies do require details from the census, but not necessarily immediately.

The way I approach this, is to open my genealogical program and create a new database. For my Orlando study, the file is simply called Orlando ONS. I add each individual with the Orlando surname to the database, each one, unattached to others, apart from their spouse. As I then build the family, or reconstruct the family, I do so using parish registers or other suitable data, which enables each family to develop, of course some of those individual with the Orlando name, may well form part of a wider family.

Let me give you this example – imagine a family reunion, Grandma is the top of the family, her six relatives each with their spouses and their children. The six children are in the database, hitched to their spouses, with their family reconstructed. Also at the reunion, are a further seven people, bearing the same name, with their Grandfather at the top of their family group. The seven people might be related to the previously mentioned six people, but not necessarily, but to all intent and purposes, the groups of six and seven people with their spouses are entered into the database and are of equal standing to each other.

I have three individuals that are in my Orlando database, and completely unattached from their spouses and other suitable individuals. The image below comes from my Pharos European Ancestors course. The source is Dachau Concentration Camp, Jewish Gen index. From the material entered on the card, it provides a starting point, from which I can begin to establish their lives. Up until now, these three individuals have sat in my Orlando Miscellaneous Workbook – more on that tomorrow.

© Julie Goucher, 2021

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.
This entry was posted in Genealogy, Introduction to One-Name Studies (Pharos course 901), One-Name Studies, Practicalities of a One-Name Studies (Pharos Course 903). Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Working with UNCONNECTED People in a Genealogical Database

  1. Pingback: Friday’s Family History Finds | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

  2. BookerTalk says:

    If an individual has a spouse then surely they are “connected” however slightly?


    • The point I was making, is that prior to them being hitched to a spouse they are unconnected, which is why they are connected.
      Does that make sense?


      • BookerTalk says:

        So if you have a couple but no other connections do they stay in your “unconnected” database or move to your main one?


        • Once someone with my study name is married they are added to my main database.

          There are some caveats, for example, I have an individual, who married and is added to my database. I have then built the family up, parents of both couples, children of the couple. They had six children who I traced through parish records and census returns. Of the six children, I located the marriages of 4 of them, one died in their early twenties, and wasn’t married. The sixth, died in 1917 during the First World War, he didn’t marry, his next of kin was recorded as his father. I have built the life of that individual up, through census and military records.

          The only spreadsheet that I have, that I keep up to date with, is marriages for England and Wales, as that way I can see how far I have got, there were 37,000 marriages between 1837 and 1983. In this instance, I updated the spreadsheet for 4 children, their parents and grandparents.

          There are some people that are fascinating, that have enter my database without a marriage. I came across a book, published by the university of Calgary, “The letters of Margaret Butcher, Missionary, imperialism on the North Pacific coast.”. Born in 1871 in Essex, she was a missionary nurse and teacher. She spent time in India and at a residential school in Canada. The book documented her experiences with the Haisla People. Margaret moved to the USA and naturalised in 1925. I have tracked her family in Essex through the census, passenger lists, the marriages of 3 of her siblings, one of whom went to the US. She died in 1938 in California. The catalyst for this research was the book, which I stumbled upon through something else. I need to add much of the additional data about Margaret to my database, and as I found her fascinating, I will write about her life. And all because I was researching indigenous people of Canada.

          Does that help?


          • BookerTalk says:

            Yes that does help a lot Julie. Thanks for the explanation and the examples. Until now I gave all my unconnected singletons the same suffix (01) so I could more easily identify them in my software programme. That suffix is also recorded on the excel spreadsheet of the record collection where I found them.


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