Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Value of a One-Name Study

Do you know what a "One-Name Study" is?  The U.K.-based Guild of One-Name Studies defines the term:

"A one-name study is a project researching facts about a surname and all the people who have held it, as opposed to a particular pedigree (the ancestors of one person) or descendancy (the descendants of one person or couple)."

My "major" One-Name Study is for my own surname - Seaver.  I have posted articles with eight generations of descendants of Robert Seaver (1608-1683), who settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634, on my free Genealogy.com website, Randy Seaver's Genealogy and Family History, along with much more of my ancestral research, effective 2005 (I know, I should update it. but ... blogging intervened!).

That website continues to draw several queries each week from Google searchers for several surnames, but especially for my Seaver surname.  At present, I have over 4,000 persons with the surname Seaver or Sever in my database.  I have added several other "root" Seaver persons and their descendants so that I can help their descendants also.  But, I don't have ALL of them (it's a long-term goal, of course!).  Then there are my other "One-Name Studies" for Carringer, Auble, Vaux, Dill, Buck, etc.  

I often provide a genealogy report to those who correspond with me, and ask them to add or revise the information so that I can improve the knowledge base.  I also "mine" online databases for birth, marriage, death, obituary, gravestone and other records on a near daily basis.  All of that goes into the database, which extends to the present time and has many living persons in it (with names, dates and places provided only by publicly available resources).  

Because I have an extensive Seaver database, I can respond to an email query like this, which I received yesterday:

"Do you know of a William Seaver b. 1859 and son Horace b. April 1887? I have photos I would like to get back to family that gives a hoot. I am not related."

I had both William Seaver and his son Horace Seaver in my genealogy database, and also had the names for two children of Horace and his wife. Using Horace's son's name, I was able to find obituaries online for the son and his wife, which identified the names and homes of their children and grandchildren.  I looked up the names at www.411.com and found addresses and phone numbers for the grandchildren of Horace Seaver and his wife.  I passed those names to my correspondent and asked her to let me know if she was successful at passing the photographs to the family members.

I have invested thousands of hours in developing my genealogy database over 24 years.  It is not perfect, and is not totally sourced (only about 29% ratio of source/event).  However, having it available to the genealogy world through my website and in online family trees at Ancestry.com, Geni.com, MyHeritage.com, WeRelate.org, WikiTree.com and several other sites provides significant "cousin bait" for interested people to find and enable them to contact me and request help, or to provide additional content to the database so that it can help other searchers.  In some cases, I can connect persons to their cousins, and in other cases, I can provide a name of a living person for whom they can find contact information.

To my mind, starting and "feeding" a "One-Name Study" for my ancestral surnames was a really smart thing to do because it provides the opportunity to add content to my knowledge base, and to be able to help other searchers find their ancestors.  

Researchers should check the Guild of One-Name Studies registry to see if someone is collecting information about the surname.  The Search page is at http://www.one-name.org/cgi-bin/searchrequest.cgi.  The site says:

"You can search the Register for a surname registered with the Guild, the surname of a member or their membership number. Alternatively, selecting any of the letters of the alphabet in the list above the search box will display a list of registered surnames beginning with that letter."

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2012/08/the-value-of-one-name-study.html

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


Gerald said...

Hello Randy, Interesting blog. I wondered if you are aware of the SEAVER people in Gloucestershire, England? Here is a link to post 1837 BDM.


Good luck with your continued research.

Gerald A Cooke Guild of One-Name Studies member 1788 researching PIMBLE

Unknown said...

Thanks for the mention of the Guild. Have you ever considered joining?

Corinne said...

tiGreat to see reference to the Guild of One-Name Studies. Its been a wonderful resource to me for my own surname study (SENNETT). I've found the whole one-name study thing incredibly interesting and I'd strongly encourage other people who want to broaden their research beyond their own families to start one-name studies and register them with the Guild.

Michelle aka patientgenie said...

Great post Randy, I joined the Guild Of One Name Studies,, known as the GOONS, last year. I am not ready to register a ONS aka a surname as yet, but have to say the members have such a huge depth and breadth of knowledge it is well worth joining for that reason alone.

BTW I cannot see your surname in the register? Do hope you are planning to register it.

Michelle aka
Family History is Cool...pass it on!