So, you’ve considered taking on your study and decided to go ahead and register it after having given thought to which if any variants to add in. You receive your welcome package from the Registrar with lots of reading.
What now? You know it should be fun but all you see is this huge mountain in front of you and don’t know where to begin. So below we offer ten steps to think about.
In all that follows, bear in mind the old adage: “the perfect is the enemy of the good”.
- Make a profile page – tell people you’re here. You’ve just started? Say that! Don’t worry that your page isn’t as complete or exhaustive as those of some other members. They all started where you are now. Just put something online to show you’re active and then come back and change it later whenever you want. See the page on Managing your one-name study profile page for advice on setting up and managing your Guild profile page.
- Sign up for as many of the social media as you feel comfortable with. Time and again, we are told that people get most value from their Guild membership by interacting with other members. Even if you don’t want to participate, you can just watch and learn.
- Do something! Give yourself a reward! Think about what gives you energy and don’t fret about what software to use at this point. Use what you’re comfortable with.
Do you like reconstructing families? If so, pick one and do that as far as you can.
Do you like amassing data and analyzing it? Read the early sections in the wiki and do something with a quick payback, like grabbing Birth, Marriage and Death data from a portion of FamilySearch or FreeBMD for England and Wales. If you have variants, like RUBIE, you might add those in and make a consolidated index. Can you learn anything from the combined index – is it worth comparing the growth of your surname with the population?
- Once you have accomplished something and gained a little energy, that’s the time to take a step back and consider the question, “How will you know you have finished?”
If you are reconstructing families, you’ll only know you’ve finished when you have accounted for all the births, marriages and deaths. So maybe it makes sense to gather some data and use it as a checklist.
If you are a data analyser, how will you know you that you have all the data you need for your study. You may have RUBIEs who are really RUBIOs or may not have the RUBIEs who have been transcribed as RUBIOs. The only ultimate way to be sure is to build all the families.
- You might also think about how best to organize the information you are coming up with and the bits and pieces that you have picked up but cannot yet use. There are sections in the wiki on software and technology which might help.
- Go back and do some more!
- Even that is not the entirety of a one-name study. Are you sure about your surname’s origin? Is the data leading you to a different conclusion than you thought?
- Think about whether there might be others out there who can help you. You don’t have to do this. Some members get greatest satisfaction from working on their own. It might be slower but it provides a break from life elsewhere – that’s just fine too.
- Once you’ve done all that, on week 2 (just kidding!), you might leaf through the other portions of the wiki and see whether there is something there that you might want to do next. Do you want to go online, or just amend your profile page, or do some more analysis, or tell some of the stories, or make sure your work is available to others, or . . . .
- Make some time to reflect: Where did you start? What brought you to the Guild? Have you solved the initial problem that you wanted to work on? Have you gained from resources contributed to the Guild by another member? Is there something you can do to contribute to the members who will follow you?
You will see that we are leading you, making suggestions, but we are not being prescriptive. Every one of us is a different person with different talents, amounts of time available, and energy for different things. Each of our surnames has a different origin, volume and different geographic distribution. So it stands to reason that all of our studies will be unique.
Finally, do you have a problem or aren’t sure about something? Remember that someone else may have done, or thought about doing, something that you are hesitant about. Use our social media to ask questions. People are happy to help.
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