Hello everyone. Well that's half the year gone. With all the news we've had around the world since DEcember, it feels like twelve months have passed already! What could the next six months hold for us? I sincerely hope the lockdowns stop soon as there's been a dearth of information about people with our names in the past month. Consequently, this newsletter has more of an inside-out feel to it. Hope that's tolerable for a month or two.
I'm very much afraid that, with the need to help look after my mother, I have not been quite as active as I would have wished. On the other hand, with there having been no sailing on my beloved Norfolk Broads and the local pubs all being effectively closed, I've actually had a little more time in compensation! So it's not all bad.
Emails from correspondents remain at above normal levels and it's been a pleasure to interact with people all over the English-speaking world. Don't stop writing, please! I really do enjoy that part of the project.
So, what did we actually do?
-- We added 1,500 people and shot past 170,000 people in our database to finish slightly over 171,000 people just now.
-- We added several more pages from the US Howes Genealogy book and have now completed the first eight generations of the family there. Given that the name index in the book runs to over 100 pages of two column text and that we already have quite a few more recent families entered, I'm going to hazard a guess that we are about half-way through this project.
-- Longer-running correspondents know that we keep track of our progress through the marriage records for England and Wales, where our largest population in one jurisdiction exists and where the most complete set of records also exists. Between 1837 and 1950, there were almost 24,000 marriages. We keep track of how many marriages where we have identified both partners and how many for which we know the date and place too. During June we went past 20,000 identified marriages, and 8,400 where we know date and place. So I decided to add another 30 years of marriages and then work through our database to see which ones we had already found.
The result was a project that took all day every day for two weeks! Of some 33,300 marriages from 1837 to 1980, we now know both partners for over 25,000 of them (75%!) and know the date and place for 8,700 (26%).
When I look back on our progress in the 12 years or so since we started, it i truly amazing. A big THANK YOU to everyone who has helped us get all this done.
Much still remains, however. We have spent so much time and effort trying to 'nail down' the 19th and 20th century families so that as we work farther back we are constructing our building on solid foundations. Being human, we do occasionally make a mistake and are very glad when people write in and point it out, or at least challenge our findings. You are going to have to trust me that we find and fix most of them ourselves, though!
Learnings from the study
My two primary learnings are:
1 - Nobody researches their family like a family member
In a way, this is pretty obvious. We simply do not have the family connections that all of our readers do. So there's a wealth of information out there to which we simply do not have access. Also, given the size of our task, as we work back we are inclined to give up a little more quickly than a family member might and go off and pursue another family.
2 - Four eyes are always better than two
No matter how good a researcher each of us might be, another person looking at that data will almost always see other ways to attack a problem or other sources that might be used. For me this is simply an extension of my working life when we always worked as a part of a team and rarely used the word "I" where a "we" could be used in its place.
Then there are a few subsidiary items:
3 - There are always new things to learn
This has been particularly true of genealogy over the last 20 years
4 - One-Name Studies are fun
If it were drudgery, we wouldn't still be here after 12+ years!
5 - One-Name Studies are good for the community
This one might take a bit more explanation. I think there are several reasons:
- we look at data differently from those studying a single family
- we see so many situations like single mothers or reversed given names so often that it is normal to look for those when we can't immediately find what we want
- we find international connections from our normal work that a single researcher may never have done, for instance the couple who went from Somerset to New York in the 1890s just to get married and return, or the Royal Navy stoker who "ran" from his ship in Malta, never to be heard of again by his wife and four children - we found him in New York getting married again, while giving his place of birth as New Orleans!
- we have more data on our surname so we can be used as a resource. In our case, we were able to help a professor working on a project about bigamy as we note such situations. We also make a note when we find cousins marrying, or twins.
- through our work with DNA we have connected families who didn't know of each others' existence, or helped adoptees find their birth relatives
- by noting the oldest ancestor for those correspondents who tell us, we are able to re-connect distant members of the same family who have grown apart over the years.
Hope you found this interesting. If we are still locked down a month from now and external news remains light, I might relate some of the stories from this study in more detail.
Thank you for your continued support. In that vein, if you would like to extend your support in a financial way, please do consider sending a donation to us via paypal to 'firstname.lastname@example.org'. We have a list of nearly 20 certificates we'd like to buy and while I am very happy to double the donation of anyone willing to contribute, I can't do it all on my own.
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