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Organising your One-Name Study


As with any task the key to success is the right method and tools and that also applies to how a One-Name study is organised.

What is the right method? Well that depends on you and what you have energy for. Many members of the Guild began their studies before the internet was easily available. That meant visits to archives and transcribing records which meant vast quantities of notebooks and copies of documents.  Of course, we still visit archives, but that is a discussion point for another day! Now in this digital age, with many indexes and records available online it is easy to get carried away with searching and acquiring records for your study. That means One-Name study material in paper, notebook and digital format.

There are a great many study organisational considerations; how big is your study going to get? If it is a large study then copious amount of paper may become a storage issue. With a large study, the chances are you will receive enquiries from others therefore you will need to be able to find any relevant information. An option could be to have a digital study archive where material is stored online, either in the cloud using a facility such as Dropbox (, via a website[1] or by using a powerful note storage facility such as Evernote ( or OneNote. Or perhaps you decide to use a combination of all three.

What is important is that before you begin your study in earnest test out a few ideas to see how they work. Perhaps extract one family from your records and reflect on how much information is located within that record and how you want to be able to access it going forward. Take your time to assess this because changing your study organisation in the future will be a big task and one that will most certainly impinge on your research time!

Many members focus on their study using the Guild of One-Name studies publication, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom: the art of a One-Name study[2] includes a stage called “Collect” which is nothing more than collecting material from either one or more data sets and citing the source for the material. Are you going to collect and “process” your newly found material or collect it “all” then process it? If you choose the latter where are you going to store the data until your process it? These are all considerations and the Guild recommends that you take the time to decide what method and approach works for you and your study. There are two books that might assist you on your quest to consider the organisational aspects, Firstly, Organize your genealogy, strategies and solutions for every researcher by Guild member Drew Smith[3]. Secondly, How to use Evernote for Genealogy, a Step-by-Step Guide to Organize your Research and Boost your Genealogy Productivity by Kerry Scott[4].

As you embark upon your study and perhaps begin family reconstruction you will undoubtedly find that there are some records you need to locate so that you can confirm a lineage. What is recommended is that you create a research log and a genealogical to do list. Both can be created either in a word document, or perhaps a spreadsheet, but you can also create both in genealogical software programmes or Evernote. Evernote has both a free and paid facility and can be used on mobile devices and on your laptop or home computer which all stay in synch with each other (although the amount of locations does depend on whether you have a paid account). You can upgrade to a paid account with Evernote easily and pay monthly with no contract time, although as you might expect the annual fee is cheaper overall. One of the useful aspects of a paid Evernote is that each account comes with an Evernote email address meaning that you can email material to yourself.

We have made a Research Log & To Do List available for you, which will open in Excel or Google Sheets, you can download that HERE. This is available for you to share if you would like, but please say where you located the spreadsheet & who designed it [5]

As you embark on your research you will no doubt accumulate a number of pictures and images relating to the life of an individual. Do consider how you might organise those images so you can easily locate them in the future.

Once you have decided how you are going to organise the data of your study you will need to choose a genealogical software programme and we will look at that on the next page.

[1] The Website IS the One-Name Study by Mike Spathaky, Journal of One-Name Studies, Vol 12, Issue 1, Jan-March 2015, page 14-15

[2] The Seven Pillars of Wisdom: the art of a One-Name Study, published 2012 by Guild of One-Name Studies ISBN: 978-1-903463-16-1

[3] Organize your genealogy, strategies and solutions for every researcher by Drew Smith, published 2016 by Family Tree Books ISBN: 978-1-4403-4503-6

[4] How to use Evernote for Genealogy, a step-by-step guide to organize your research and boost your genealogy productivity, published 2015 by Family Tree Books ISBN: 978-1-4403-4383-4

[5] Designed by Julie Goucher and made available via the Guild of One-Name Studies website (

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