One Name Study Comin’ Right up!

[Well, if it were only that easy…]

Back in February (2016) I presented at RootsTech and had a blast making friends and talking with many knowledgeable people. One of the knowledgeable people I encountered was Paul Howes*, Chairman of The Guild of One-Name Studies. Paul was manning the Guild’s booth and I stopped to chat. I typed in my maiden surname (Meechan) and sure enough, no study yet existed. Hmmm…


I knew I had little to no time to offer between the presentations I had coming up, my teaching workload, and a huge project pending for a client. So, I set it aside and now the time is right.

What is a one name study?

Different from genealogical research which only focuses on my specific family line, one name studies collect data and information for that particular surname from around the world.

Why do a one name study?

One name studies provide a very broad perspective of a particular surname that includes both qualitative and quantitative analysis. From this, we can observe migration patterns, surname distribution, and many other cool things about that surname. The research is in one place and queries from around the world can come to one central place. Probably the biggest benefit I see is that the research is preserved.

Think about it

How many people (like me) have loads of research they’ve already conducted that never really makes it to the “sharing” stage…I bet the answer would be many. I realized I had demographic data and other analyses that could contribute to a larger body of knowledge outside of my own line of genealogical inquiry to include everything known about that surname.

Variants and Deviants

According to the Guild, “it has always been expected that the registrant should study not only the primary spelling but also all the known variant spellings.” Think of deviants as mistakes in transcription sorts of things and variants as permutations of ways the name has been spelled by ancestors.

Over the next several weeks, I will be setting up my one name study and I’ll post my progress here.

For more information on The Guild of One-Name Studies, check out their informative and helpful website to see if your family’s surname(s) are listed. If not, consider taking up a study on your own. The Guild has tons of resources and many people who know things are happy to assist.



* You can check out Paul’s awesome site for the Howes one name study here

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