The most obvious form of analysis is family reconstruction, using vital records, censuses, Wills, tell-tale use of names, naming patterns, spacing of births, etc. to build individual people into families.
You will also be looking for the links and migration between different name variants. From studying the different classes of data, you will analyse which name spellings are genuine variants (names actually used by the individuals) and which are “deviants“, that is, spellings used by others when recording or transcribing the name.
Another important piece of analysis is distribution analysis, and calculating the relative frequency of the name in different places and across time. This may allow you to work out the origin of the name.
Other analytical tasks include:
Identifying full names of spouses (i.e. where only the first name is known from a census entry);
Finding “missing data” caused by mis-transcription (try all the deviant spellings and more – use wildcards where allowed);
Identifying precise locations where, for example, only the Registration District is known from a BMD (Birth / Marriage / Death) index.
For studies primarily in England and Wales, the Guild Marriage Index and the Guild Marriage Challenge can assist in these tasks. It is now known that in the UK BMD indexes the volume and page numbers can assist in locating the precise church in which a marriage took place.
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