Sunday, 7 December 2014

Surname Studies - Australian Style

I am beginning a Surname Study.  This idea has been prompted by a few things: the new Surname Society, an intense few days researching one-name studies and wanting to reconstruct family groups within Australia.  

I considered a one-name study through The Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS) earlier this year but I found the scope of the aims very overwhelming, particularly in regards to it's size, the commitment I would need to give and the amount of my time it would consume in order to do the job properly. The Guild describes a one-name, or surname, study as:

one-name (or surname) study is a project researching all occurrences of a surname, as opposed to a particular pedigree (ancestors of one person) or descendancy (descendants of one person or couple). Some ‘one-namers’ restrict their research geographically, perhaps to one country, but true one-namers collect all occurrences worldwide.
In contrast, The Surname Society allows more flexibility in the surname research carried out by its members:

Surname researchers collect data relating to all name bearers, either on a global or restricted basis. Study methods are not mandated by the Society and members are encouraged to develop their own approach to the investigation of their surname to advance their knowledge and expertise in areas such as etymology, DNA, name collection and family reconstruction.
At this moment I am interested in researching my surname throughout Australia's history, beginning with NSW.  I have begun by collecting births, deaths & marriage details from the NSW BDM Indexes from 1788.  I plan to research the surname in Australian censuses & electoral rolls and I'm brainstorming some other sources, such as convict records & immigration records.

So far everything I've viewed is very UK slanted, even the American / Canadian, probably because these researchers are trying to trace their chosen surname back as far as they can go.  I want to limit mine to Australia, and perhaps later to Ireland / UK.  Does anyone have some hints / tips / guidance for Australian resources for surname studies?

Is anyone else in the Australian genealogical community doing or thinking of doing a (limited) surname study, either with The Surname Society or on their own?  I know that there are resources & help available to members of both the Surname Society and the Guild Of One-Name Studies, but maybe we need to form a network for people who are doing (or interested in doing) a study limited to Australia?

What do you think?


  1. Starting with Australia is a great place for you to begin. In Victoria we have the public records office which holds much of our Victorian history like records, shipping and probate, the Genealogy society of Victoria has much to offer. If I lived in NSW, I would begin with the society of Australian genealogists, local family history groups and the NSW archives. Newspaper articles may be found on line thru the national library of Australia. I am a member of the guild but have not started a one name study as I cannot make up my mind which one to do.
    I have been researching for nearly forty years and still having fun. Good luck

  2. I know that Jill Ball (Geniaus) has been interested in joining the Surname Society as opposed to GOONs as well. Have you spoken to her Sherie?