A-Z Challenge 2018 – Questions

a2z-h-smallJust with our own genealogy, there will be those people who are part of our studies with whom we develop an attachment with, for reasons that we cannot explain. Perhaps they were females, ahead of their time, or living in an unusual place, pursuing an interesting career. The list is endless.

These people sit within our surname studies and we find ourselves exploring the life they lead and want to expand it more and more. On occasions I have to remind myself that there are not “my people”, but they share the surname that I am researching.  Equally, there will be folk who sit within the study, a line on a spreadsheet and they remain there, as part of my methodology until they researched and they become more than one line on a spreadsheet. At that point, they enter my database.

My current why’s are these, and they all relate to my Orlando study. I am very keen to get stuck into some research about them and because of what I know about them, they deserve to be more than a line on a spreadsheet:

  • Renato ORLANDO born 12 Jan 1915 Carrara. Last residence via Cariona 316, Carrara. Prisoner #67 885. Protective custody, Italian. Arrived 10 May 1944 at Dachau Concentration Camp. Died 18 January 1945. (source Jewish Gen)
  • Stefano ORLANDO born 27 April 1914 Varesa, Last residence Genua, Passo Moretto. Prisoner # 113 433 Protective custody, Italian. Arrived 9 October 1944 at Dachau Concentration Camp. Died 28 November 1944. (source Jewish Gen)
  • Umberto ORLANDO born 25 December 1913 Angri, Last residence Angri. Prisoner # 54 634 Protective custody, Italian, Arrived 29 September 1943. Dachau Concentration Camp. Died 31 October 1943. (source Jewish Gen)

For reasons I totally cannot explain, I feel that I simply must explore their lives, military service and how they died.

Initial observations is that:

  • Umberto and Stefano died very soon after arriving at the camp, they were there between 4-8 weeks.
  • Renato was at the camp 9 months, he was also the last to arrive of the three of them, arriving May 1944 and dying in Jan 1945.
  • Umberto arrived and died in 1943.
  • Stefano arrived and died in 1944.


  • Are those dates significant?
  • Did they die from disease or other methods?
  • What details can be found about Dachau?
  • Expand the individual family lines for these three men

Dachau was established in 1933 and was not a death camp, but conditions were severely harsh. It was liberated on 29th April 1945 and contained around 206,000 prisoners from all over Europe, Jews and non Jews. There are amongst the records recovered by the allies 31,000 deaths recorded, but many thousands more were not recorded at all.

Of the prisoners liberated there were substantial numbers of Italians, Lithuanians, Czech’s, Belgian and Slovenes. The largest number were from the former Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, Germany and France. Many Soviet prisoners were simply shot and others endured experiments.

From the limited research I have undertaken thus far, I suspect that these three Orlando’s all died from the harsh conditions at the camp and more research is needed to confirm or deny that hypothesis. One thing we do need to consider is that research might unearth material that we do not like and we find unpalatable. In those instances we need to continue to research and attempt to emotionally untangle ourselves from the data.

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A-Z Challenge 2018 – Profiles for a One-Name Study

a2z-h-smallEvery member of the Guild of One-Name Studies with a registered study has a profile page on the main Guild website.

The advantage of this is that when someone searches for the surname, if it is registered, the profile page is displayed. Some members have added lots of information about their study, the origins of the surname, the geographical spread. There are links to the website of the study and DNA project, if applicable.

I have written profiles for both of my studies, Orlando and Butcher both profiles are different in terms of content and depth. The Butcher profile is more of a work in progress and I should get this just how I want it sometime later this month (hopefully!).

The profile page is the shop window to your study. It enables people researching your surname to find you and the more details you add to your profile the more chance you have of receiving contact from others.

The webmaster gave a presentation at the February 2017 Guild seminar, which as titled a walk run around the website and there was time given to explaining how easy it was to produce and use member’s benefit. Members will find the recording in the members area under seminars and those undertaking the Pharos Introduction to One-Name Studies will see the link in their course material.

Once you have searched for a surname, using the search box on the right hand side of the Guild website and profile appears (if the surname is registered), if you look towards the bottom the website also lists the instances where the surname appears in the Guild indexes. Try doing a search for Butcher and see how many instances there are.

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A-Z Challenge 2018 – Observations and Analysing your One-Name Study Data

Seven Pillars Higher Res

courtesy of the Guild of One-Name Studies one-name.org

I love tha2z-h-smallis image of the Seven Steps of a One-Name Study. The reason I like it so much is that it shows the seven key principles of a study and today’s post is about analysing material and what we observe.

One of the key elements as you commence or think of commencing a study is to look at the numbers. How big is your study going to be?

It is not simply a case of how big the study is, but how big the study is going to be in a specific genealogical location. My Orlando study is small in the UK, but across the English Channel and head to Italy and the surname is common. The surname occurs in other areas of Europe to. Then look to other locations, South America, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

As we analyse the numbers I consider the driving factors of why the number might be higher in one country over another. I expected my Italian distribution map to show Orlando “everywhere” and I was not disappointed. I wrote about this earlier and you can read that post HERE the third map on the page shows the spread of Orlando’s.

When I compare the map to similar maps, such as for the United States, I can see the increase of the surname in certain states and then when I look at the history of Italy and in particular the south of the country I can see what perhaps drove the migration from those areas to the United States.

As part of analysing and observing, I could draw an initial conclusion that:

  • Migration from a financially poor Italy, especially in the south was because there there was the hope of a better life in the USA.
  • Some states, such as Alabama and Louisiana might have a surge in migrant populations because of the decrease in enslaved people and a deficit of people to do menial and hard labour work.
  • Religion might also draw an increase in migration, so those from a devout Catholic country might choose to migrate to similar countries, Argentina and Brazil for example.
  • The reduction in availability of migration to the United States might have driven an increase to other countries such as England and Australia.
  • Sicily was famous for the incredibly hard work of sulphur mining, in fact in the 19th Century, 90% of the world’s sulphur mining came from Sicily. As the work decreased did this influence where the Sicilians migrated to?

All of these elements bring together our thought processes as we observe our findings and analyse them. If we give some context to the size of the study that builds a sounder approach to a study and adds a dimension to it.

For those who want to read more on the size of a study you could read this earlier post here and I promise to write a post about some of my observations and see if my hypothesis holds water!


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A-Z Challenge 2018 – Notations & Citations for a One-Name Study

a2z-h-smallI had to be a little creative with this one and instead of citations went with notations and citations.

Google gives this definition for notations:

“annotation, jotting, inscription, comment, footnote, entry, minute, record, item, memo, gloss, explanation, explication, elucidation, marginalia, exegesis, rare scholium

We cite our sources so that we can:

  • Document our research
  • Show our research has a sound and integrity as it’s base
  • As a way of supporting our theory and assertions
  • To show our sources are realiable

It is important to have consistent citations, but any citation is better than no citation. If your citations are not perfect, go back and correct them at some point. As long as you provide a trail for someone else to follow that will be sufficient in the short term.

A good source citation will tell you the answers to these questions:
  • Who – Who is the source referring to?
  • What- What does the source document?
  • When – When was the event, and when was the source created?
  • Where – Where is the source located (which repository or archive)
  • Where – Where did you access it? (On Ancestry.com, online, at the library, etc.)

Some links for further reading:

My personal view with citations for my One-Name study is to document where the information came from. So for a US Census I would cite it as NARA and then say where I accessed the material.

For material from The National Archives (TNA) at Kew I would give the Census year, the RG reference and then say where I accessed the information. I do this because most organisations who enter into an arrangement with Ancestry, FindmyPast or The Genealogists will do so for a period of time. That means that at some point, material on Ancestry might switch to another provider. There are documents in my files where I saw the material at a repository which no longer exists as a single establishment, but is now part of another, large organisation and I have subsequently seem the same material in more than one place.

An example of this is the image below, the 1881 Census for my Great Grandmother, Annie Prudence Harris, then aged 1 year and living in Puttenham Surrey with her parents and siblings.


Annie Prudence Harris (married name Butcher) – 1881 Census, Puttenham Surrey  – Class: RG11; Piece: 780; Folio: 91; Page: 6; GSU roll: 1341183 – The National Archives (Kew) and accessed 15 March 2018 via Ancestry

  • I first saw the document on a microfilm in the summer of 1989 at Guildford local studies library
  • I later saw the document on a microfilm in 2003 at the Surrey History Centre, Woking
  • I have a complete set of the Census material in my filing cabinet in my office as part of my Puttenham and Wanborough One-Place Study
  • I have seen the image via Ancestry
  • The source citation is actually Class: RG11; Piece: 780; Folio: 91; Page: 6; GSU roll: 1341183

And the photograph below is how I remember her,from when I was about 2 or 3 years old, living in Guildford, with my Great Aunt. One of my earliest memories is snuggling with her on the bed, when she was an very elderly lady smelling of lavender. The day I saw her on the 1881 Census as a child, was a really special moment and from then I was hooked!

Annie Prudence Butcher nee Harris

Annie Prudence Butcher (nee Harris) 1880-1972 – image owned by Julie Goucher

This photograph sits within my Butcher One-Name Study and by the time this photograph was taken, Annie had been widowed between 25-27 years. Her husband, my maternal Great Grandfather Charles Butcher died in 1943.
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Favourite Book(s) #15 – At Home: A Short History by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson At HomeFrom the moment I saw the write up about this book in one of the broadsheet newspapers, I knew I had to read it.

Bryson opens At Home with 1850, the year in which his house was build.

He spends time talking about other things that happened the same year in an acceptable, yet rambling fashion. Bryson, wanders around the entire house, including the cellar, attic, garden etc.

I read the book within in a few months of it being published and have a rather heavy hardback book because I was too impatient to await the release of the paperback. I have probably re-read the book twice since then and everytime I have book cull it has survived!

There is something very appealing to me about the book. I loved the random and yet linked manner the topics in the chapter flows across to the next chapter and then onto the next room.

Bryson has produced some substantial source notes for the book which are available HERE on the Penguin website. What I find more curious is that an author of some standing and Bryson does not have his own site.

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A-Z Challenge 2018 – Methodology

a2z-h-smallThe best way to proceed with a Surname Project is to have given some thought to the approach of your study. It won’t always be a perfect method and it may change over time depending on a variety of factors and I touched on methodology briefly here and here.

I have changed my method during the time I have been a Guild of One-Name Studies member several times and did this as I changed my aims and developed the idea of using the Members Website Project (MWP) which is a Guild members benefit.

The method that you will use to collect material will vary depending on:

  • The material you are collecting – which data set
  • How easy it is to obtain the material?
    • Are you taking a research trip?
    • Are you grabbing a day to research whilst on a family holiday or with limited time?
    • Are you downloading a data set from an online resource with an access time frame? (it is free for a limited time)
  • The way you are storing material that you download.

All of these considerations should enable you to establish a working plan. That way you should have a less cluttered approached to collecting material. Whatever you do, if you need to shelf one data set and work another because of any of the reasons mentioned here or others, record where you got up to and always record nil results. Will touch more on this element in the next few days.

Those who are a members of the Guild will see an article in the Journal on the the subject of Methodology in the next few months, but do take the time to devise a working “action” plan.


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A-Z Challenge 2018 – Learning about One-Name Studies

a2z-h-smallThere are several ways you can learn about the concept of a One-Name Study or Surname Research.

The first is the Guild of One-Name Studies website, the second is the Introduction to One-Name Studies offered by Pharos for which I am the tutor and Thirdly, the Guild publication, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom – the art of a One-Name Study which is available from the Guild Shop or from Amazon.

The next opportunity is to join the Guild and take advantage of the many benefits offered to Members, the knowledge of around 3,000 members and by just beginning your study. Truth be told, you are possibly already underway with your study, you might not realise just yet.

There are on the Guild website some key pages that you might find very useful and these are:

The Guild offers monthly webinars, which for the current year are about the stages of the Seven Pillars. You can read about them HERE.

If you are in the UK, you could attend one of our seminars, these are round every quarter and the location varies across the country. The next one is in Sunderland with others scheduled – you can see the list of presenters for the Sunderland seminar and the list of forthcoming seminars HERE.

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A-Z Challenge 2018 – Keeping One-Name Study Material

a2z-h-smallI am almost too embarrassed to tell you where I keep my One-Name study material. I once had a boss who said “there are filers and pilers and which one of you?” It was a rhetorical question and I just gave a kind of smile instead of an answer.

In almost despair I bought a rather nice curver box from Hobby Craft CurverBoxwhich takes A4 sheets and has some space over and have one for each of my studies. I then have several drawers and files in the filing cabinet relating to my One-Name Studies specifically and plan to make the entire website the home of my study material. Dumping all the paper and only retaining photographs, certificates and documents.

The website is backed up weekly and I hold a separate archive of material which is located in the cloud, on a USB stick, and an external hard drive. I will be also deposit a complete set of material in the library of the Guild of One-Name Studies – I am a belts and braces kind of girl, what can I say!

The key thing is to stop collecting material and process what you have, but every now and again I do gather material, a case in point is the material of the Orlando references that I found relating to those that perished in Dachau Concentration Camp and more on them, another time.

There is a section on organising a One-Name Study in the Pharos Introduction to One-Name Studies course and I have submitted an article to the Journal of One-Name Studies, based upon a response to a question that I received the last time the course ran.


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Supporting the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society – Accessing NYC Vital Records

Those of us researching in New York City will have our access to certificates and genealogical data severely affected by the adopted methods to be operated by NYC Officials. This affects those of us, like me whose ancestors left parts of Europe and settled in New York City.

My own family left Sutera, Sicily in search of a better life and migrated to the US and those of my Orlando & Licata ancestors who chose to make their home in New York City.

Click HERE to see a short presentation by D Joshua Taylor, President of the NYGBS – who has outlined the situation for us.

For more information and to show your support please read more HERE

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A-Z Challenge 2018 – Jubilee

a2z-h-smallWe associate the word Jubilee with an anniversary typically 25 or 50 so I am stretching this Jubilee post, but only a little.

The Guild of One-Name Studies was founded in 1979 and will be 40 years old in 2019.  As a way of commemorating the Guild, the spirit of surname research on a global scale and our global membership, we endeavoured to find a project that could commemorate our organisational achievement and one that could act as a way of those members without a study cutting their teeth on one.

Let me introduce you to the Ruby One-Name Study which is a collaborative study. The Ruby study has a Blog which you subscribe to and keep up to date with. In the meantime there is a team of Guild members working on the project and making contributions. In the meantime, I have searched my Butcher database and will be submit my Butcher & Ruby marriages to the project and reconstruct the family lines. There are also some Ruby references in a variety of Italian records which I will also submit to the project at some point. If you want to contribute to the project, do drop the project leader an email.

There are a few other things planned to celebrate the Guild’s 40th birthday and for that announcements will be made via the Guild website.

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