The Guild of One-Name Studies

In recent weeks, we’ve spent some time examining particular surnames and their variants.  We looked at worldwide and regional distributin of names and we tried to determine what is actually a “variant” and what is a mere mis-spelling.  Having been through that experience, I decided that I need to have some more robust guidance on the matter of surnames.  That guidance may come in the form of the Guild of One-Name Studies, of which I have recently become a member.


The UK-based Guild of One-Name Studies is just a bit overthirty years old and is now a world-wide organization of researchers who focus on a partiuclar surname as opposeed to researching particular families.  There is certainly a lot to be gained for all genealogists and famiy historians from one-name research.  The Guild has a wealth of information about thousands of surnames.  And the Guild can be a superb forum for learning to research one name.

If you want information about a surname registered with the Guild, you can go to the Guild’s website and find the names of the Guild members who registered the name and are researching it.  Guild members are required to answer all email inquiries they receive about the surname they have registered as well as all “reply-paid” postal inquiries.  One need not be a Guild member to make an inquiry.

If your surname is not registered with the Guild, then you can register it once you become a Guild member.  Be advised, however, that the Guild is a serious research organization and registering a surname carries a commitment to “collect all references to your registered name or names on a worldwide basis, and strive towards the goal of establishing a substantial body of worldwide data.”  It alos has the afore-mentioned obligation to respond to all inquiries.

Members of the Guild are not required to register surnames.  Indeed, because of t he heavy commitments, teh Guild recommends that new members not register a surname right away.   There are many benefits of membership, such as access to helpful materials, that can be enjoyed without registering a surname.

If you have an interest in the study of names, you’ll find the Guild of One-Name Studies a comfortable and interesting organization.


August 2009
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