Category Structure for One Name Studies

+23 votes

Hi Categorization and One Name Study Members,

The ONS and Categorization Leaders have noticed that there needs to be some clarification on how to set up categories for One Name Studies. Alison recently put together a great ONS FAQ page which gives this basic form, too, but so if any discussion needs to happen or questions regarding the structure are asked, we have a thread here. 

After looking at a lot of possibilities, this is what we came up with, based on structure Nae Lockhart has been using. Note, instead of trying to pluralize surnames-which can get messy-use "Surname Name Study" instead of "Surnames". 

You do not have to use regions in your study, though if you have a study that will have a substantial number of people in it, it can be really useful to break them down this way. Like all categories, the smallest possible category should be used, but Nae found that it was also useful to also have them in a category at the major regional level up, like state, as digging through all the towns someone was in can take a long time when examining patterns. Here's the structure in action. We'll use Brown for the example.:

Category:One Name Studies

>Category:Brown Name Study

>>Category:United States, Brown Name Study

>>>Category:Iowa, Brown Name Study 

>>>>Category:Jasper County, Iowa, Brown Name Study

>>>>>Category:Mingo, Iowa, Brown Name Study

If I knew a person was born in Mingo, I'd use the Mingo, Iowa, Brown Name Study as well as the Iowa, Brown Name Study category. Again,this is slightly different than the usual suggestion to use only the smallest category. Using both proves very useful in this case. Ideally, no one would be in the Brown Name Study category-it would be a top-level, and very few would ever end up in the United States, Brown Name study, as well, as we'd aim to at least figure out the state, though it definitely happens that we often only know the country.

Categories for the Name Study should also be put in the general regional categories they pertain to, so Mingo, Iowa, Brown Name Study, would also be nested under Mingo, Iowa.

Here is the Lockhart Name Study for more examples, but note, we want to use "Lockhart Name Study" where she uses "Lockharts" so "Virginia, Lockhart Name Study" rather than "Virginia, Lockarts". 

Though still in in its infancy and with far fewer profiles in it yet, here is the Brown Name Study for another set of examples. 

Questions? Input?

in Policy and Style by Abby Glann G2G6 Pilot (393k points)
Thanks so much for this clarification, Abby. I "favorited" this one.
I would prefer the location to follow to avoid confusion as to what the name of the Name Study is (but I'm easily confused):

 -> Brown Name Study
  --> Brown Name Study, United States
   ---> Brown Name Study, Iowa
    ----> Brown Name Study, Jasper County, Iowa


7 Answers

+9 votes
Best answer

I have no interest, at the present time, to break down my One Name Study by geographical region. The vast majority of my surname lineages here on WikiTree are in the United States, maybe once other non-US lines are identified that will become a higher priority.

Currently my top three interests are in identifying where other surnames tie in to the Beardsley/Beardslee family, instances where same surname cousins married and the Veterans in the family. Finding twins and other multiple births along with other areas of interest I'll develop as time goes on.

It should be noted that One Name Studies do not, and are not meant to all follow the same format. They are whatever the individual who sets them up decides to focus on. If, hopefully, others join the study they may (and I'd encourage them to) decide to develop branches of their own to research. It is my earnest hope that neither the WikiTree leadership or the various other projects decide to set and enforce guidelines that would restrict One Name Studies to following one study format and structure.

by John Beardsley G2G6 Mach 3 (34.6k points)
selected by G. Moore
I agree, John. I've been in extended conversations with people about this as I've been trying to find a sensible way of categorizing the Beasley Name Study. I've come to the point that I'm pretty sure what I need to do, but I'm not getting much agreement from the WikiTree people I'm corresponding with. I know that these location systems are relatively easy to do, but have marginal utility because lineages, families, and individuals migrate and families with no relationship cross paths. My idea is to categorize by lineages defined by earliest known ancestor. Where I've run into difficulties is that, to me, one of the defining characteristics of a lineage can be YDNA Haplotype. This brings up the question of reconciling the DNA project and the One Name Project. I have found that there is very little overlap between the two. I know that you have created many subcategories of use to your own ONS and have found no need for those categories to be reflected in other ONS. My inclination at this point is to do the same with the Beasley Project, that is, set up categories that make sense to the Project.  I have seen the need to integrate ONS and DNA in  WikiTree, but it appears we are a long way from that in practice.
Hi John,

If there is another category for ONS you find useful, the structure is the important thing. XXX, Beardsley Name Study being the basic suggestion. The preferred approach is to bring it up for discussion so others might benefit from your ideas, but it certainly isn't required, especially if it follows the XXX, Beardsley Name Study pattern. The regional categories were something the ONS specifically felt needed discussed because many members are using them, and a structure was needed to keep them useful.
Hi Abby,

I had a question related to this discussion.  I would like to set up a spouses category for people who married Bentleys (I got the idea from John's name study).  My question is, would the preferred format be

Category: Spouses, Bentley Name Study or

Category: Bentley Name Study Spouses.  

Or does it matter since there does not appear there is an overall wiki category structure in place for spouses like there is for states, counties and countries.

I noticed John has set up a spouse category already.  If others have done this I wonder if they have found it helpful vs the effort it takes to put the category in all the profiles.  For me, it seems helpful to have all the associated names in one place.  Curious what others think.


Hi John,

Spouses, Bentley Name Study follows the same structure as the regional ONS categories, so if you find that useful, go ahead. I do see where seeing names together would help to see the intermarrying of families and possibly help solve some mysteries.

I understand your point Abby, and I have no objection to what has been proposed for those who wish to set their ONS in that pattern. I believe mine follows the top level guideline, but my sub-projects do not and probably will not.

One main thing which has been brought up a few times and been fairly well ignored is the guideline which states that ONS markers should not be placed on every occurrence of the surname in the study. That guideline runs counter to the definition of a One Name Study as it is listed by the Guild of One Name Studies. It also creates a problem for my spouse sub-study . . . if I cannot place a marker (either template or a category tag) on each profile of those who marry a Beardsley/lee there is no other way in WikiTree to build that list.

Points like that have been brought up for discussion. When they run afoul of the more vocal members here on G2G or the private project discussions they tend to get bulldozed over. Not always, but often enough to be disheartening.

I'm rambling a bit, sorry about that. But I would like to point out that the current trend towards uniformity of profiles is not something which is universally favored. We can allow diversity and creativity without falling into chaos, and we should.

Hi Johns,

I believe you're referring to the template not being on all profiles in a name study. All Beardsleys can be in the categories, though, and certainly spouses, as, like you mentioned, there'd be no other way to have them all together. Templates we have to restrict a bit more, because they take up a bit more real estate on the profile. Category use, on the other hand, is fairly open. The creation of them just needs to follow structure that has been discussed where applicable.
As far as the template vs category tag.  I like the idea of putting a category tag in every profile in the study but then I only use the template for profiles the study is actively doing something with, more of a temporary notice that the profile is being studied.  I have the template in half a dozen profiles.  I plan to remove it but leave them in the various categories.

Using a template has advantages over using simple categories. If for instance a new and significant discovery were made that affects a certain branch, for instance a DNA discovery, that information can be added to all affected profiles with a simple update to the template rather than going through all the profiles one at a time.

I might also point out that there was a rather healthy debate here on G2G quite recently about the overuse of categories on profiles. Seems we bump into differing viewpoints no matter which way we turn.

+13 votes
Thank you for this great post, Abby! It should go a long way in helping leaders of surname projects index and categorize lineages. We are very grateful to Nae for putting all the thought and effort into developing the hierarchy of surname/location categories and for proving how well it works.

The only change we made, as Abby mentioned, was to use the full Surname Name Study as opposed to just the surname with an "s" at the end. The reason for this is because many surnames resemble place names and it simply would not work for surnames like mine that already have an "s" at the end when apostrophe's cannot be used. We also felt it was important to identify these categories as belonging to the surname study project.

Thank you to everyone who helped bring about this decision. ;-)
by Alison Andrus G2G6 Mach 4 (45.7k points)
+7 votes
So, are going to have to go back and change the categories that were set up following Nae's examples?  And if so, how exactly (I'm feeling a little detail-challenged today) do we do that?
by Nan Starjak G2G6 Pilot (228k points)
Hi Nan, my answer to that would be no. There is no reason to change your categories if they have already been set up.

Since the question of surname/location categories comes up often for us, the ONS and Categorization Projects needed to come up with a specific category hierarchy for one name studies that would be endorsed by both projects. It is now publicly recommended for all new one name studies project leaders who are needing guidance. ;-)
*whew*  :-)
+4 votes

So I arranged the categories according to your suggestion on one of my ancestors who was born in Lärbro parish, in the county of Gotland, Sweden.

Peder Herkules Briant

Does this mean we should remove the template?

For Sweden I have the category Swedish Name Studies. Is that ok or should I change it to Sweden, Name Studies?



by Lena Svensson G2G6 Mach 4 (48k points)
Hi Lena, you are right! The template will only place him in the general surname study category of Briant Name Study. Usually, we would want to use the most specific category. Would it be helpful to have a complete list of all profiles in the study on one page in addition to a breakdown by location? I think this choice is best left to the leaders of each individual name project based on their own criteria for profile management within the study.

The Categorization Project is moving away from the creation of categories that contain an adjective (Swedish) and replacing them with a noun (Sweden), so in this case, Sweden, Name Studies would be the correct category.
Thanks Alison, I will change it to Sweden.
+3 votes
I would like to set up a Canada category for the Bentley Name Study.  I noticed that there currently isn't a "Canada, Name Study" category.  It looks like there is a Canada Surname Category.  I assume I should create a Canada, Name Study category, and not use the Canada Surname one?

If I use [[Category: Canada, Bentley Name Study]] in the individual profiles, will that create the properly formatted category??  I assume it will be red and I will need to place it into

[[Category: One Name Studies]]

I can also add this to it:

{{Top Level}}

This category is part of the [[Project: One Name Studies|One Name Studies Project]].

Do not use this category on your profiles. Use <nowiki>[[Category:Canada, Your Name Study]]</nowiki>

The above is a cut and past from the Australia, Name Study category. I thought I would post a message here and make sure this is all correct before I actually create the new category.


by John Bentley G2G6 Mach 2 (21.9k points)
Hi John,

Here is the top category you are looking for:

When you create Category:Canada, Bentley Name Study, enter Category:Bentley Name Study and Category:Canada, Name Studies in the edit box before hitting save and that will set it up in the correct hierarchy.

Category:Bentley Name Study is the top level category for this project and that is the only category that is nestled under Category:One Name Studies.

I hope that makes sense! ;-)
Thanks for the info.  I think what confused me is that the category you sent me is not listed under [ this ONS category] like many other countries like Australia.  I will use the one you sent. Does that Canada one need to be added to the Category above? Thanks a bunch..
Thank you for pointing that out! I just took care of it. ;-)
+4 votes
Abby, I have a clarifying question. I've recently seen the addition of three one-name-related categories added to multiple profiles (a family): each profile had two location-specific one name study categories (the person had moved during their lifetime) as well as an era one name study (1600s). This to a profile already containing many other categories. Is this acceptable practice?
by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (709k points)
The location ones we had approved. The era one I don't remember being discussed. It would probably be a good idea to talk with Jamie and Ros about it. I haven't kept up with the Categorization project since the current Leaders took it on, but ONS should know the most about this.
+1 vote
I have a few One Name Studies I work one - a couple here (Turvey Name Study and Tovey Name Study) and one on another website on Tulloch which I'll move here at some stage.

Like the comment above, I haven't seen the value (so far) in using location categories. In fact, I don't see the value in using categories at all for One Name Studies. This is because the surnames I study are nearly always identified as those surnames. So if I want to find a list of people with the surname Turvey who are linked to Lambeth, I can simply do the following search:

* []

I understand that this doesn't always work if the location is something that appears in multiple places (eg "Washington" could be a variety of places) nor the surname is frequently confused for a placename (eg Green)
by Andrew Turvey G2G6 Mach 2 (27.1k points)
I use location categories throughout my one name studies, as they are separated geographically and I am looking at migration within a country.  For instance, I have Murches who were born in one county, married in another, and lived/died there.  Having location categories helps me structure them, like a good filing system.

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