Surname Research for Free: Guild of One-Name Studies at FamilySearch.org

Sometimes you find yourself sorting through tons of people with the same last name to see which ones belong on your family tree. This surname research collection at FamilySearch can help you see what other researchers may have spent years compiling about thousands of family groups.

surname research

There’s a valuable free but much-overlooked online collection for surname research at FamilySearch.org. These are the family trees of nearly 3000 members of the Guild of One-Name Studies, who are studying nearly 9,000 different surnames. Their resources are strongest for the United Kingdom, where the Guild was founded, but you’ll find members all over the world.

What makes these family trees unique?

There are a couple of things that make these family trees unique:

1. These trees don’t just focus on a mostly-vertical line of ancestors for a single person. Members of the Guild collect everything they can about a particular surname and all its variants (hence the name of the organization). These efforts help organize and connect people with the same surname. Sometimes they help trace the origin of a surname. They can help people explore the variety of spellings and locations associated with different names.

2. These trees are often more fully researched and cited than your average online tree. The Guild takes pride in supporting its members in doing accurate, cited research; keeping their online databases updated; and responding to questions from others about their surname research.

Of course, always use caution when consulting others’ trees. Consider their content to be hints or suggestions until you prove them otherwise yourself. Scrutinize the sources they cite, many of which, say the Guild, aren’t available online elsewhere.

Explore the Guild Surname Research Collections

To explore this helpful free resource, follow the step-by-step instructions below:

1. Go to FamilySearch.org and click Search, then click Genealogies— not Records. (You may also click here to reach that landing page directly.)

2. Enter the surname of interest.

3. Click where it says All next to the Search button.surname research with Guild of One-Name Studies

4. Select Guild of One-Name Studies.

5. Run the search. Click on search results to see:

A. The individual’s name, personal details and (scroll down) associated sources and citation details.
B. The individual’s place in a Guild family tree. Explore this family tree by clicking on someone’s name and seeing their information pop up to the left, where you can also click “View Tree” to see that person’s relatives.
C. Search for names within this tree.
D. This shows you what surname study the information comes from. In this case, you’re also given a link to a separate, associated website for that study.

6. Repeat to learn more about other surnames in your family.

More on Surname Research

If you are interested in learning even more about surnames research, read Social Network Your yDNA with Surname Projects by our own Diahan Southard, and learn how surname study organizations are taking their research into the 21st century with DNA surname projects.

Also, learn more about utilizing DNA in your genealogy research with these 10 DNA quick guides from Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard. They can be purchased in a bundle in either print or digital format.

Tackling Your Inherited Genealogy Files: Merging Duplicates

Merging duplicate records in your family tree is important. Perhaps you have inherited a giant genealogy file (GEDCOM) from a relative. What now? Follow along in our series on Inherited Genealogy Files as we talk about how to merge the duplicates in your family tree.

merging duplicate in your tree

Have you cleaned up your family tree lately? Whether you have inherited a genealogy file from a relative or have been an avid researcher yourself, clean-up is necessary from time to time, especially as your database grows.

Merging Duplicates from an Inherited Genealogy File with RootsMagic

When you sit down to do your genealogy research, the last thing you want to worry about are duplicate names. Duplicates can be distracting and confusing.

You may have inherited a genealogy file or files in the form of GEDCOMs. (Read more on what and how to use a GEDCOM file here.) While inheriting this family history is great, it can also be a lot of work to clean-up, confirm the data, and add source citations where needed.

If you use RootsMagic or other similar software, it can be quick and easy to clean up duplicate names in your database. Start by running a duplicate search by clicking on Tools, selecting Merge, and then clicking Duplicate search merge.

You can search for duplicates by surname or given name. You might consider running a duplicate search for sounds alike, as well. This is particularly important if you have merged two databases in which you and the other contributor may have used different surname spellings.

When you are ready, click Search for duplicates at the bottom of the box. The system will tell you how many duplicates it finds and allow you to compare them one-by-one.

If you find a duplicate, the primary person will be on the left and the matching record on the right. Whichever record/person is most correct, use the Swap button to move that record to the primary position on the left.

If you feel these are a match, click Merge duplicate into primary at the bottom left corner. You have now merged these two individuals. It should be noted that you do not actually lose any of the data of the duplicate person. If I find Dean Howard Lockwood in my index and double click on his name, a pop-up window appears and I see he now has two birth and death entries, however. To fix this, click on the duplicate fact to highlight it, then click Delete fact at the top.

Cleaning Up Duplicate Places

You may not have considered cleaning up the duplicate places that exist in your file. For example, perhaps Great-aunt Susie liked to use the old format for place names. [i.e. , Ross County, Ohio] Notice the comma before the county name Ross. This was the way in which genealogists used to indicate Ross was the name of the county. Now, we use the more recent accepted format and change that to: Ross county, Ohio, United States. You can quickly merge these two places into one by clicking Lists at the top left, and choosing Place List.

Now, choose the place you would like to fix and double click it. In the pop-up window that appears, simply type in the place name as you desire it to appear in your database.

In the example above, we have changed , , Kentucky to Kentucky, United States and clicked OK. But wait, there’s one more step! You may notice your list now shows duplicates of Kentucky, United States or some variation. To fix that problem, click on the merge button at the top of the Place List pop-up window. A new window will pop-up and you can choose all the places you wish to merge together. Then, click Merge selected places.

More on RootsMagic Software

RootsMagic is the genealogy software used and recommended by Lisa Louise Cooke and The Genealogy Gems Podcast. You can purchase this amazing software from the Products We Love tab in our store or by clicking on the RootsMagic 7 image link. When you use our affiliate links, you are helping to support the free Genealogy Gems Podcast. Thank you!

New UK Genealogy Records Online: 1939 Register Updates and More

Got ancestors from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Island? Check out these new UK genealogy records online: 1939 Register updates; newspapers; Scottish postal directories and local resources for Derbyshire and the city of York.

Featured Update: Additions to the 1939 Register online

Over 660,000 new records pertaining to empty, uninhabited addresses across England and Wales have been added to Findmypast’s unique and important online 1939 Register resource.

We asked Jim Shaughnessy at Findmypast how these records can help a researcher. “There are a few things that an empty address can tell you,” he responds. “Knowing the house you are looking for was an empty address in 1939 may help you to direct further research. As with other record sets, the occupations of the neighbors can give you an idea of the area (in terms of the largest local employer).”

The ability to search even vacant addresses “can also give you information about areas [later] destroyed by aerial bombing during the War (and during the extensive regeneration in the decades following),” writes Jim. “The Register was compiled September 1939; bombing began in 1940 and a lot of houses wouldn’t have been rebuilt, particularly in impoverished areas where we had bombsites for years and years afterwards. So from that you could look at how the War changed that area or that street: what doesn’t exist now but did pre-Blitz.”

Jim also pointed out that “Findmypast is the only site on which you can search by address on the 1911 census as well as the 1939 register, plus we have the largest collection of electoral rolls, also searchable by address. You can search by address and then build the entire picture of what your family did.”

More UK Genealogy Records Now Online

U.K. Newspapers

The British Newspaper Archive recently added four new titles: the Willesden Chronicle, published in London and the Warrington Guardian, published in Cheshire; the Dudley Herald [Dudley, West Midlands, England] and the Monitor, and Missionary Chronicle, of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ireland [Belfast, Northern Ireland]. The British Newspaper Archive now holds over 19.5 million pages of historic newspapers dating from the early 1700s to the early 2000s!

In addition, Findmypast has added over 186,000 records to its collection, Sussex, Eastbourne Gazette Newspaper Notices. “This indexed collection includes names found in the paper’s family notices section (announcements of births, marriages, and deaths) as well as other reports on events such as divorces, murders, tragedies, shipwrecks, lynchings, and paternity cases. The newspaper reported on stories in Sussex, but also internationally.”

Derbyshire, England. Over 800 records have been added to Findmypast’s unique collection of Derbyshire Hospital Admissions and Deaths 1855-1913. “The collection now contains over 5,000 records taken from two different sources: Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, Deaths 1892 – 1912 and Victoria Memorial Cottage Hospital, Ashbourne Admissions 1899 – 1913,” states an announcement. “Each record includes a transcript produced by the Ancestral Archives of Derbyshire. Records can include the patient’s admission date, reason for admission, condition after admission, marital status, residence, rank or profession, date of discharge or death, and cause of death.” Looking for other Derbyshire ancestors? Click here to read about online Methodist records for Derbyshire.

York, England. A new Findmypast resource, The York Collection, includes nearly 300,000 genealogical records documenting over 600 years of residents of the city of York. A press release calls it “the largest online repository of historic City of York records in the world….Fully searchable transcripts of each original document are also included, enabling anyone to go online and search for their York ancestors by name, location, and date.”

The collection is comprised of a variety of fascinating documents, including hearth & window tax records (1665-1778); lists of apprentices and freemen (1272-1930); city of York trade directories; electoral registers (1832-1932), city of York school admission registers; city of York deeds registers (1718-1866); city of York militia & muster rolls (1509-1829), and city of York calendars of prisoners (1739-1851). This collection was published in partnership with Explore York.

Scotland Directories

A snippet from an 1820s post office directory for Aberdeen and vicinity. Image on Findmypast.com.

Over 180,000 new record images have been added to Findmypast.com’s collection of Scottish post office directories, now spanning 1774-1942. The collection has nearly 900 browse-only volumes of directories that offer descriptions of Scottish towns along with lists of residents by occupation and address.

Here’s a little background from Findmypast: “Post directories are an excellent source for family historians wanting to trace ancestors on a yearly basis. Directories allow you to fill in the gaps between the census records. They can also provide vital information about your ancestor’s residence, which can lead to the discovery of more records….Directories can add historical context to your ancestor’s story. Directories will give you a better understanding of where your ancestor lived, such as how many businesses were in the town, how many schools, what day was the market day, and how big was the town.”

“Directories may focus on a particular town or district or you can find national postal directories. The majority of post directories comprise a description of the place, along with lists of people by occupation. For example, you will find lists of magistrates, councillors, sheriffs, police officers, and merchants. It is important to remember that post directories are not complete lists of all the residents in the town or county. Also, many directories fail to include women.”

TIP: A browse-only collection of digitized Scottish post office directories for 1773-1991 is available to search for free online at the National Library of Scotland.

Start researching your English ancestors with this free two-part article series:

Beginning British GenealogyBritish Research for Beginners  (“English” v. “British” and more)

English Parish Records: Finding English Ancestors Before 1837

Irish Historical Photographs in New and Updated Genealogical Records

We are bringing you Irish historical photographs from Dublin this month in celebration of Irish heritage. Search these amazing photos of your ancestral homeland. Also this week, directories from Scotland, church records of the United Kingdom, and censuses for Canada and New York State.

Irish historical photographs 1900

Ireland – Dublin – Irish Historical Photographs

The Dublin [Ireland] City Council has launched an online archive of over 43,000 Irish historical photographs and documents to their website. These amazing photographs can be searched by archive, date, or location for free. They show images of events like the Eucharistic Congress and the North Strand Bombing. There are also images of football games, bus strikes, and old Dublin streets.

These Irish historical photographs includes pictures of old documents and objects, too, with the oldest document dated to 1757!

Take a look at the entire archive, here.

More on Beginning Irish Genealogy

irish genealogy cheat sheetYou’ll love these two quick-guides by Donna Moughty on Irish genealogy. Guide #1 titled Preparing for Success in Irish Records Research will help you determine a birth place, differentiate between persons with the same name, and walk you through identifying helpful US records.

Guide #2 titled Irish Civil Registration and Church Records, will guide you through locating Protestant church records, civil registrations, and more. It will also walk you step-by-step through using the new online Civil Registration records.

And now, purchase these quick-guides as a bundle

Scotland – Post Office Directories

Scotland Post Office Directories contains over 382,000 records and allows you to explore thousands of pages of directories to learn more about the life and work of your Scottish ancestors. This Findmypast collection focuses on a particular town or district although a number of national postal directories are also included. The majority comprise a description of the place along with lists of people by occupation. For example, you will find lists of magistrates, councilors, sheriffs, police officers, and merchants.

The records are do not contain transcripts, but do include a digital image. The detail you will find on each page will depend on the type and date of the directory.

In conjunction with these post office directories, there are some that are browse-image only. They have not been indexed at this time. These 598 volumes of the Scotland Post Office Directories Image Browse are an excellent source for family history and those who need to trace their ancestors on a yearly basis.

Canada – 1842 Census

Lower Canada census

The Lower Canada Census 1842  at Findmypast contains over 46,000 records. The Province of Lower Canada was a British colony on the lower Saint Lawrence River and the shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence between 1791 and 1841. It covered the southern portion of the modern-day Province of Quebec and the Labrador region of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Each search result will include an image of the original document and a transcript. The original returns were printed in French and English and transcripts may include occupation, language, residence, and the number of inhabitants at their dwelling. Images can provide detailed information about the local area such as number of inhabited and uninhabited buildings, the number of barley mills, tanneries, distilleries, the price of wheat since last harvest, and the price of agricultural labor per day.

United Kingdom – London – Russian Orthodox Church Records

Findmypast has added records to their collection titled Britain, Russian Orthodox Church in London. Over 13,000 records taken from volumes of birth, marriage, and death records from the Russian Orthodox Church in London in exist is this collection. The records further include correspondences, congregational records, and church documents. The majority of the volumes are written in Russian although a limited number of English-language records are available.

The Russian Orthodox Church records are available as a browse set only at this time. You will need to search the records by the document description such as Births, marriages, deaths, converts, and passports, 1888-1919 or Donations to St Petersburg Guardianship for Poor Clergymen, 1863. Then, search within the digitized volume to find your ancestor.

You will find numerous correspondences with other church leaders in London, America, Russia, and Japan, as well as documents related to religious doctrine. The facts found in each volume will depend on the type of record you are viewing. Birth, marriage, and death records will typically include the individual’s name, event date, and place, while birth and marriage records may also include the names of the individual’s parents.

United Kingdom – War Records

New records have been added to the Findmypast collection of Anglo-Boer War Records 1899-1902. This unique database of more than 470 sources may reveal the unit your ancestor served with and any medals, honors, or awards they won. The register also contains a completely revised casualty list of 59,000 casualty records.

Each record contains a transcript and may include the following information:

  • Name
  • Service number and rank,
  • Unit & regiment
  • Medals, honors or awards received
  • Memorials relating to death if applicable

United Kingdom – England – Births and Christenings

birth and christenings in Irish historical photographs

By Anton Laupheimer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Though this collection from FamilySearch has been available for awhile, they have recently added more records. The England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 now totals over 68 million records. There are some important tips and known problems with this database. Before searching, be sure to read the details at the FamilySearch Wiki, here. As an example: In birth or christening records, if a surname is not listed for the child, the indexer often assigns the father’s surname to the child. This surname may not be correct. So if you are looking for a birth or christening, search by the given name of the child, adding parents’ names and as much locality information as is permitted.

United States – New York – State Census

FamilySearch has added to the New York State Census of 1865 this week. State censuses are particularly helpful to researchers because they fill in the gap between federal censuses. Unfortunately, the following counties are missing:

  • Allegany
  • Clinton
  • Franklin
  • Genesee
  • Hamilton
  • New York
  • Putnam
  • Queens
  • Seneca
  • St Lawrence
  • Sullivan
  • Westchester
  • Wyoming

New York state censusThe population schedule includes the name, age, birthplace, and occupation of each household member as most censuses do.

However, this census also includes two military schedules with information of officers and enlisted men currently in the military and men who had served in the military. This census contains information on when and where the individual first entered the military, rank, how long they were in the service, their present health, as well as several other items.

Additionally, the census contains tables on marriages and deaths occurring during the year ending June 1, 1865. These tables contain typical marriage and death information, but can be a helpful resource for those who have been unable to find these records in traditional locations.

Lastly, a second table entitled deaths of officers and enlisted men contains deaths of individuals which had occurred while in the military or naval service of the United States, or from wounds or disease acquired in said service since April, 1861, reported by the families to which the deceased belonged when at home. It includes the name of the deceased, age at death, if married or single, if a citizen, several items relating to military information, date of death, place of death, manner of death, survivors of the deceased, place of burial and any remarks.

Pin It on Pinterest

MENU