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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A-Z Challenge 2018 – Individualistic

a2z-h-smallWe are all individuals and our studies are just like us, totally individual. One of the great things I love about the Guild is the is the ethos of sharing with others, members and non-members alike, and encouragement for others to follow others great ideas.

A great example of this came from the Sennett One-Name Study A while ago Corinne shared the concept of a virtual cemetery on Find A Grave. Essentially a study holder creates a virtual cemetery on the Find A Grave website and rather than the cemetery be a location, the common theme is the surname. Here is the Virtual cemetery I created for the Butcher surname. It is not anywhere near complete and may never be so, but it is in existence and not only enables me to add individuals to the virtual cemetery, but also to “advertise” the Butcher study – thanks Corinne!

In a similar vein I have shared my methodology as a way of highlighting a possible way that another might do their study. We all read material written by others and reflect upon that and perhaps adopt an element of what we have read into our own lives or existence. Why should our One-Name studies be any different.

Issac Newton is known for his quote “Standing on the shoulders of Giants” and that is what this about.


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A-Z Challenge 2018 – Help!

a2z-h-smallThe Guild of One-Name Studies is one of the most progressive genealogical organisations that I know, certainly in the UK at least. Firstly, full disclaimer, I am a Trustee and an Officer, so I am bound think positive things. Do we always get it right, no we don’t and I say that as a Trustee with integrity and a realist. We try and always seek to improve and give members value for money.

I also belong to a substantial genealogical group in the UK whose membership fees are more than the Guild’s. They, in my personal view give me less value for money than the Guild and the question of. is that important is perhaps a topic for another day and fair warning, that day may never come! It comes down to what is important to us as individual genealogists.

So why is H for Help? The Guild is one of the most helpful and knowledgeable group of people that I know. There is always a member who knows the answer to any question asked, whether that is asked via the Members only Facebook group, the members only email mailing list or via the Web Forum which is in the members room. We also have a Facebook page and non-members can use that ask questions. There too, is more than knowledge.

There are the Guild services, such as those folks who are part of the infrastructure of the Members’ Website Project or those members who keep the website going and remain migrating the material from the old part of the site to the shiny new one. Members who operate what is called a Marriage Challenge and I promise to write more about that in the future. (For those of you who have been reading along, I have kept a list of my future promised posts! – the challenge is not loosing the list!). Members who do the Webinars offered by the Guild or the seminars which are held quarterly. Members who work on the journal, those who write the articles, the editor or the proof readers.

The Guild offers all those services and member benefits totally on the work of volunteers – there is NO paid staff, and that is what I find remarkable – Members helping Members.

Guild Member benefits

Courtesy of the Guild and the work of two former webmasters who made various adaptions.

Of course those shown in the above image are just the volunteer run member benefits, that does not include all the other volunteers who work behind the scenes making sure the wheels turn and don’t fall off! Anyone who has contacted the Guild telephone help desk by telephone would have likely to have spoken to Roy in England who answers the calls made to the UK or US free (toll) number or Karen who answers the Australian free (toll) number and that is just one example.

So whatever the question, there is a chance that one of our almost 3,000 members knows the answer or knows someone who does! And that is before we even consider what each member with a registered surname knows about the individuals in their respective studies. How could H have been for anything else but Help?

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Favourite Book(s) #14 – Watching the English by Kate Fox

A former colleague recommended this book to me following us having a lively debate at a meeting. After which I was advised, do you realise you are thinking with your Italian brain!

I recall looking at them thinking what on earth are you talking about? I ordered the book and devoured it in one lengthy work trip. Kate Fox writes a very engaging and amusing account of how the English are. The patience and queuing and the ability of saying sorry, if when it is not essential and suggests fault when there is no fault at all.

This book really made me think about what I do in certain situations. How my English & Italian brains kick in at particular intervals. In fact it was something I was not even aware I was doing, but clearly those around me could see it. Since reading this book I have really developed a love of watching people. Airports and coffee shops are my favourite places!

I can recall a day, long before I moved to Devon when I was waiting with my late Mum to cross a busy road. We had stood at the side of the road for quite a few minutes, when Mum told me afterwards, that I had simply walked into the middle of the road, waved my umbrella in the air and stopped the traffic. Mum said her heart was in her mouth as I had acted quite without thinking. Now, I realise that makes me sound like some crazy woman, but there was a slight lull in the traffic and I took advantage of it! – that was most certainly an Italian brain moment!

At the risk of having a Harry Potter moment, for those fans who might recall a scene in the first film when Finnegan says, he is “half & half, his dad is a Muggle and his mum is a Witch, bit of a nasty shock when he found out….” So, if you are half and half, do you see differences between your different nationalities? (and Harry Potter features later on in this series!)

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A-Z Challenge – Global Gathering Data

a2z-h-smallAll Guild members with a registered study sign up to aiming to make their study global. Over recent years a number of people have expressed concern about the global aspect & commitment. There is no pressure to be global and never has been. Members simply have to agree that they will be global at some point.

Depending on the surname and the geographical spread of the surname being studied, some members will be more global quicker than others. As I have already talked about my Italian Orlando study was global from the beginning and the Butcher study too is already global, although I have not finished the UK. If you are in the US and the same is European, perhaps German or Italian in origin then you are going to be global from the beginning, but it could take you, depending on your initial State focus ten years to leave the US and that is fine.

Most of us start our One-Name study from our own research, in the case of the Butcher study I had individuals in my own ancestry who had migrated to Australia and Canada, so those individuals were my catalyst into those respective Countries. I talked about focus points of the Italian study just recently.

All our studies are individuals, sure there will be overlap with others who are researching large studies or Italian studies but the structure of my studies will be different to others, despite there being similarities.

So if you are concerned about the globalisation of your One-Name and surname research don’t be. Register and establish your aims, focus, methodology and then decide where geographically you are going to start. Beginning is the hardest part and then the rest is easy!


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A-Z Challenge 2018 – Focus

a2z-h-smallFocus is really important in a One-Name Study, otherwise you will flit from individual to individual and not build up your study in a controlled and constructive manner. That said, there are no One-Name study police to come round and check your records!

The focus of your study will be different for each member of the Guild of One-Name studies. Maybe your focus is the United States because that is where you are, or perhaps Italy because that is where your surname of interest is found in substantial numbers, alternatively perhaps you focus on the quick wins of data collection to build a basis for your study. Anyone who has ever read anything I have ever written about the Orlando study will know that I focus on three places:

  • Orlando’s in UK (where I am)
  • Orlando’s in Sicily (where they were and are)
  • Orlando’s in several US States (New York, Louisiana & Alabama) (where they went)

That does not mean I don’t focus on the rest, but these three focus points are my starting points for the reasons I have noted here. Italian is not my first language. It takes me three times as long to research there as it does in English and Italian involves more thinking! so I always have other research in my first language on the go to.

There are no right or wrong ways to build a study and you get to decide the focus point(s) for your study.

My advise to anyone at the beginning of their surname research and One-Name study journey is to decide your aims, consider your methods (and more on that later on in the series) and decide your focus point. None of us got it “right” at the beginning, like with anything our study evolves as does our experience and abilities. I have changed my methodology several times and that is OK too!

When I started my research there was no course such as the Introduction course that I teach. The course gives you a good grounding to understand a study and the different elements to consider and more on that too later on. “Your focus is my focus” is a line from the film, Karate Kid and even though karate and the topic of One-Names studies is poles apart there is a grain of truth there.

Anyone who listened to the Guild webinar in February and heard Paul Howes talk of his study would have heard him say that he runs his study like a business. So, Paul’s focus is what others want to focus on. Genealogists who have a connection to the Howes surname probably do a search online for the surname of Howes. They find the Howes website and then search for their individual Howes ancestor. The site provides a huge amount of information and I personally believe that we should all aspire to that, me included. Paul wanted to produce a website that gave value for money for researchers – it does indeed give value for money as anyone can visit the website and see information and evidence totally free of charge.

By having that focus and achieving that website it also provides scope for others to submit to the study. I have a number of Butcher & Howes marriages, as I have similar overlap with a number of other Guild members. Paul and I have shared & pooled resources and that is a great way to collaborate with others, both Guild and non-members alike. Even members without any ability to create a website can achieve one by signing up to the Members Website Project which is a member benefit, and more on that later in this series.

What is your focus and has your vision of focus changed in anyway?

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A-Z Challenge 2018 – Evidence

a2z-h-smallJust as with regular genealogical research you require evidence to substantiate events in your One-Name study. Of course, if you are undertaking family reconstruction and have two people with the same name and same geographical area then you should  have at least a working theory.

So what is evidence? We all, whether we are conducting a One-Name study or not, see a new data set has been released and insert our surnames of interest into the search box. If there is no search results I personally record that in my research log, but if there is a result then I need to do something with that information.

If there are hundred in the search results then I note that, along with the name of the data set and where it is located; perhaps that is one of the main genealogical providers, or perhaps it is with a genealogical group who has announced their work. I also record the date that I searched. A data set released on Ancestry in 2016 may not be available there in 2018.

If the data set has just a few results I record the date I searched, the name of the data set and the site where the information is found, along with the citation of the information. I also record the information, probably into a spreadsheet. Just recently I found three Orlando’s cited within the indexes of Jewish Gen of those that perished at Dachau Concentration Camp. These three individuals are currently sitting in a spreadsheet and will do so until I am able to research more at which point they will enter my database. If I work on just one of the individuals then I turn that line in the spreadsheet a different colour so I can come back to it later.

Evidence is a paper trail that links an individual to what we are claiming. For some it will be a certificate or other document and I have a fair few of those, for others evidence will be nothing more that directing others back to the source of the information, so in the case of the individuals who died in Dachau that will be Jewish Gen. Overtime, more research will be undertaken and perhaps that will provide additional evidence.

We will be covering citations later on in this series and we discuss core data for a One-Name study in more depth in the Pharos course for One-Name studies.


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A-Z Challenge 2018 – Distribution of a Surname

a2z-h-smallStudents who have undertaken the Pharos Introduction to One-Names Studies course will have heard me mention numerous times the website Public Profiler and perhaps if they were very lucky even heard me relay this story!

Just before the last course started, I went through and checked the various links and added a few bits into the course material. For some reason I went to World Family Names Profiler and inserted the surname of Orlando. Quite why I did, I don’t know because I have done it before, numerous times! The map displayed and I have included it below

World Profiler - Orlando

Map courtesy of Public Profiler

I noticed to my amazement the patch of colouration over India. Public Profiler allows you to drill down a bit further so you can see the region where the surname appears, like this

Orlando India

Map courtesy of Public Profiler

Armed with the name of the region which happens to be Maharastra I did a quick Google search to find out about the area. Maharastra came under British rule from 1818, first under East India Company and then from 1858, the Crown. Not getting very far, I turned to FamilySearch

Searching for Orlando in India revealed four results, one Orlando which was a death in 1869 in Barrackpore, Bengal, India,  two of the results related to the surname of Orland which I discounted and the other Urlando which I found curious, for no particular reason.


Map courtesy of Public Profiler

I then put the surname of Urlando through the map at Surname Profiler and was surprised at the results.

Low results in Australia, United States, Europe, India and China, Low results in Canada, but more than the United States, and Italy had a high concentration.

From just this one action of looking at the frequency of the surname, I have found an instance of the surname in India, been surprised by another surname, which may or not be a variant, which we talk about later this month, revisited the map for the output of the surprise surname. I have a hunch that I might explore the surprise surname a little more because I cannot resist a mystery and I will also explore records in China. Not to mention I still need to explore the Orlando & Italian connection to Maharastra.

I then went to my trusty Italian mapping site, Gens.info and inserted the surname of Urlando feeling sure that there would be a concentration of the surname there. Wrong!

Urlando - Italy

Courtesy of Gens.info

Such low instances of the surname in Italy I find surprising, either the map is way off, the surname is dying out, the surname hails from elsewhere or Urlando is perhaps a variant.  I need to do more investigation on the Urlando surname and see where that leads.

The distribution of a surname is an integral part of a One-Name Study. It enables us to explore other elements, bring a different dimension to a study. It enables you to explore migration patterns which you can then align with other historical events for example.

As a number of other Guild members can attest I am sure, those genealogists with a One-Name study, are never be genealogically bored!

More details and information about surname distribution maps is covered in the Pharos Introduction to One-Name Studies course.

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