Our topic was Surname Studies – the why, the how and much more! I had great time sharing details of my study and giving a few tips to would be Surname Studiers; of course I learnt quite a bit from my co-panelists as we discussed our methodologies. Thanks to Kirsty for her invitation to speak on this topic and to Janet for coordinating the slides and organisation of our presentation
So what did we talk about?
Firstly Kirsty gave a brief introduction and indicated how she had met Janet and me.
We then introduced our studies and discussed their scale, size and what got us started. We told whether our studies were worldwide or a restricted geographical area, or a restricted time period and if we were a one-man band or part of a team. Each of us had a very different story about why we got started and our motivations for undertaking a surname study.
Our research and data collection methods were discussed; we talked about the sort of data we collected and where found it. We also covered our methods for storing data. It was interesting that as mine was a newer study I made a lot of use of spreadsheets and technology whereas the others, who had started their studies quite a while ago used more traditional methods.
We talked about reconstructing families and whether this is a priority. Do we start with the families and then look for data or vice versa or both? Do we aim to put all our data into family trees? Once again this was dependent on the age and size of the studies we discussed.
We touched on the use of DNA for surname studies but, as of yet, the panelists have not gone down this path.
We also talked about the Problems of researching in a country/state/province/county we aren’t living in. These include not having local knowledge of the geography of an area and the resources available in an area.
We all seemed to have done fairly well with promoting our studies by using a range of online and print resources including on-line trees,websites/blogs, social media, journal and newsletter articles and giving talks/presentations about our studies. We all agreed that membership of a surname organisation provided great support for those undertaking studies.
Finally we each shared some advice for prospective studiers. Mine was “Just do it”.
My only regret is that we didn’t record this session as I would dearly love to once again hear what my co-panelists had to say.