Project: One Name Studies

Categories: One Name Studies

Welcome to the One Name Studies Project!
Doug Lockwood discusses the ONS Project in this YouTube video.

Ours is a project of project leaders. Members of the One Name Studies (ONS) Project help to lead surname projects — genealogy collaborations that are centered around a particular surname.

The term "one name study" may refer more specifically to a genealogical research project to investigate the origins of a family name and sort out the various family lines. Since everything on WikiTree is collaborative we don't make a distinction between research studies and collaborative projects. A one name study on WikiTree welcomes and includes the research of all Wiki Genealogists who are interested in the same surname.


How to Join the One Name Studies Project


The ONS Project is led by Sarah (Murtaugh) Heiney.The Project Coordinator is Ros Haywood.

For questions and answers, see the One Name Studies FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).

Join the Project!


  1. You have signed the Honor Code
  2. You have been on WikiTree for at least 30 days
  3. You have made at least 100 contributions

Check First

To see if someone has already started a project, enter your last name in the search box at the top of this page (without entering a first name). This will take you to the surname index page, e.g.

If there is a surname project it will be linked near the top of the page on the right, e.g. "Smith Project".

If you don't see a project linked there, it's a good idea to also check the one name studies index. New projects may not yet be properly linked from the surname's surname index page.

Next Step - Your Choice

  1. Start a new name study.
  2. Reply to this G2G thread letting Sarah know which surname project you've started or joined. Sarah will:
    • Award you the One Name Studies Project Member badge. (This badge is awarded only to creators of a study.)
    • Make sure your study appears properly on the surname index page and one name studies index.
  3. Add one_name_studies to your list of followed tags. That way you'll see all our discussions in G2G.


  1. Join an existing name study
  2. Send a private message to the name study's leader to let them know you wish to join their study
  3. Discuss with them how exactly you can help
  4. Add one_name_studies to your list of followed tags. That way you'll see all our discussions in G2G.

How to Start a One Name Study

If a surname project doesn't already exist:

  1. Click here to create a free-space project page. (To keep these instructions open, right-click and select "open link in new tab.")
  2. In the first field, replace the "X" with the surname you have chosen and leave "Name Study" (for example: Haywood Name Study).
    • Only add one surname here.
    • Don't include punctuation.
    • Don't use ALL CAPS.
    • Note that you can edit the title of the project page later. What you enter here creates the file name for the URL. It should be simple and standard.
  3. In the second field, enter just the surname by itself. This creates the primary surname tag.
  4. Optionally, you can enter up to two more surnames in the third and fourth fields if your study will cover surname variants. See additional information on variants below.
  5. Edit the text to change [[Category:X Name Study]] so that X has the primary surname of your study instead. You can edit other text now or later.
  6. Click the "Create Name Study" button.

You can find your name study at any time by clicking the Free-Space Watchlist link from your Watchlist.

You could also add a link from the text of your profile for yourself and others like this:

I have started [ surname project], please join me!

The URL for your project, of course, will have your surname instead of X, like this:

Don't forget to follow the other steps included in the "How to Join" section above. It's important that the One Name Studies Project leaders are aware of your project so they can make sure it is properly linked from the appropriate surname index page(s) and appears in the one name studies index. Send the ONS project leaders the URL for your project.

How to include surname variants

Does your study include more than one variation of the surname, e.g. Smith, Smyth, and Smythe?

You are encouraged to include variants as long as they aren't already separate projects for those variants. If a separate project for a variant is created by someone else later, it will be spun off from your project and linked from it.

The One Name Studies Project leaders will help you create the links from the appropriate surname index pages.

Invite others

The first thing to do after creating your project page and telling the ONS project leaders about it is to invite other WikiTreers to join you.

Click here to post a message in G2G, our "Genealogist-to-Genealogist" forum.

  • Use a title such as "Got Smiths? Join the new Smith Surname Project" or "Would you like to help research Johnson families?"
  • In the text describe what you're working on and where you think others might be able to help. Don't just write a couple bland sentences. Genuinely invite other volunteers to collaborate on the project.
  • End the text by saying something like, "Reply here if you're interested or comment below if you have any questions." This is better than inviting people to contact you privately.
  • In the "WikiTree ID/URL" field enter the URL of your project page, e.g.
  • In the "Surnames and Tags" field enter the main surname and any related surname like this: noland van_noland nolend

Next, click to the list of members who are following the surname tag. From the surname index page (e.g. click the "Genealogists" link. This will take you a page like Click to each one of these members' profiles and post a comment on their profile or send them a private message to tell them about the new project.

How to Lead a One Name Study

Here's what to do after you've started the project.

WikiTree resources

Familiarize yourself with WikiTree's surname-related features and tools.

On the "My WikiTree" pull-down menu select "Surnames". This will show you the links for your family names. These same links are available on surname index pages from the pull-down menu that starts with the surname and in the right column after you resort the list of names.

Click on each link to experiment and see what it does. WikiTree is always adding more tools so you might find something new.

Project page

The project page is the center of your one name study.

Confirm that the project page appears:

  1. In the one name studies index. See the section on categorization below if not.
  2. On the surname's surname index page. If it doesn't, ask one of the ONS project leaders to add it. See "How to Join" section above.

All project pages should have the following three sections. Although creative formatting is allowed on free-space profiles (unlike on person profiles) the standard format is to use level-two headlines, like this:

== How to Join ==
== Goals ==
== Task List ==

How to Join: Invite people to reply to the G2G post described in the "section above on starting a project. You can also invite them to post a comment on the page or send you a private message.

Goals: Identify your goals. What is your objective? What is the scope of the project? How big do you want the study to be?

Task List: What is the current state of the research? What are you and other members working on, and what remains to be done? Also consider:

Ideas for what else to include:

  1. Research Notes section.
    • Are there any weak links that need more sources?
    • Post your direct family line as a family unit and invite others to do the same. The goal is to find a link between family units using traditional and/or DNA research.
  2. Resources section.
    • Are there any published books based on your surname with possible links?
    • Historical societies in your geographical area of study that hold files on your surname?
    • Family Historical Societies?
    • Websites that are dedicated to your surname?
    • Links for further research?
  3. Pictures. Upload them through the link in the right column.
  4. Surname Origins and/or Surname Meaning section.
  5. DNA section. See the information on DNA below.
  6. Famous people. Are there celebrities or historical figures with the surname? Add them to your study and encourage members to post a comment about their connections to famous people with the name.

You might also create and link separate free-space pages for things like:

  • Maps and migratory paths.
  • Family homesteads.
  • Family bibles or heirlooms.
  • Reunions.



Use G2G for more than just your initial invitation for others to join the project.

Discussing issues and questions here means that others will see them — project members and potential project members. Many people follow surname tags and will therefore see your tagged conversations. They are also linked from surname index pages, appear in Google search results, etc.

One idea for a post is to tell about your journey on the research trail. What exciting things did you discover? Any skeletons in the closet? Any wise old tales debunked?

If a few months have gone by since your last post, post an update about what is new or interesting in your project.

On any G2G post, be sure to include the URL of your project page in the "WikiTree ID/URL" field and the surname tag(s).

Use other forums and social media

Are there other surname projects for the same name on other websites? Are there surname-specific web sites or blogs? Discussion forums or e-mail lists? Search Google to see what you can find. Whether or not these genealogists use WikiTree, they may be interested in what you are doing with your project.

If you use Facebook, join or create a surname group there. You will be surprised at how effective this can be for reaching new people.

Follow the surname tag

You are probably already following the surname tag. If not, you should be. This will mean you see new G2G activity in your daily Wiki Genealogy Feed e-mail update.

In addition to participating in surname-tagged G2G discussions, this will help alert you to new members who are also following the tag. When you see one, post a welcome message on their profile like this:

Hi X. Welcome to WikiTree! I see that you have X ancestors. Me too. Where are yours from? Mine are from X. I know you're just getting started on WikiTree, but when you get a chance come check out the [ X surname project page] and post a comment there to introduce yourself. If there's ever anything I can do to help or any questions I can answer, let me know.


DNA testing is very valuable for surname projects — Y-chromosome tests in particular. By themselves, Y-chromosome test results do not have particular meaning. You need to be able to compare the tests with others. A surname project gives you that opportunity.

Create a table with your family's yDNA results and encourage other members to do the same so that comparisons can be made.

You can find others with your surname who have taken DNA tests by going to your surname index page and selecting "DNA Connections." This will take you to a page like this: YDNA test-takers are the most valuable, but anyone who has taken an autosomal test knows the value of DNA for genealogy and may be able to find a male member of their family who could be tested.

Genetic genealogy is not easy. Others in the WikiTree community are willing to help. Ask a question in G2G using the tag DNA.


Categories group profiles together. This can be valuable for a one name study. However, do not categorize every profile with the surname. This is done automatically with surname index pages.

Using categories can be complicated. If you have questions or need help setting up categories, please contact Liz Shifflett or Maggie N. for assistance.

First, make sure that your main project page (the free-space project page created in "How to Start a One Name Study", e.g. Space:Lockwood Name Study) is in Category:One Name Studies. It should have this category tag on the page:

[[Category:One Name Studies]]

Only put this on your project page. Do not put it on any person profiles.

Next, make sure that the category for your name study has been created. It is the surname followed by "Name Study", e.g. Category:Lockwood Name Study. This categorization tag should be on the project page:

[[Category:X Name Study]]

Replace "X" with your surname.

Once this is entered on your project page, save the page and return to the profile view. If the category appears in red letters, click on the category. It will take you to a category page that has not been completed. In the block provided, enter this:

[[Category:One Name Studies]]

Then save.

Categorization that combines a surname and location

If your study is location-specific, structure the category beginning with the location followed by the surname and ending in "Name Study."

To see how this works, please refer to the Flaugher Name Study category page, examples following:

[[Category:One Name Studies]]

[[Category:Flaugher Name Study]]
[[Category:United States, Flaugher Name Study]]
[[Category:Pennsylvania, Flaugher Name Study]]
[[Category:Franklin County, Pennsylvania, Flaugher Name Study]]

Categories for the name study should also be put in the general regional categories they pertain to. The hierarchy would look like this:

[[Category:United States of America]]
[[Category:United States, Name Studies]]
[[Category:United States, Flaugher Name Study]]
[[Category:Pennsylvania, Name Studies]]
[[Category:Pennsylvania, Flaugher Name Study]]
[[Category:Franklin County, Pennsylvania]]
[[Category:Franklin County, Pennsylvania, Name Studies]]
[[Category:Franklin County, Pennsylvania, Flaugher Name Study]]


  • Do not use an "s" on the end of the surname as this, in essence, changes the spelling of the surname.
  • Like all categories, using the most specific or smallest category is usually recommended, but in this case, also listing the state level category would be helpful. Once you start looking through census records and only have a state listed for the place of birth, you won't want to go searching through all the county categories looking for your names.
  • Remember that families with the same surname living in the same location may not be related, especially if they share a common surname.

Other categorization

If you have a different way of separating people in your study, you can set those categories up in a similar way as with the regional categories, namely, XXX, Name Name Study. For example:

[[Category:Kissing Cousins, Flaugher Name Study]]

To target a specific time and place, you could combine location and century. For example:

[[Category:England, 16th Century, Flaugher Name Study]]

See DNA Categorization for Projects for more information on how to categorize for ONS/DNA cross-overs.

Project box

Project Boxes are feature boxes inserted at the top of profiles using what are called templates. They identify a profile as being managed by the project, so that visitors can find out how to collaborate on the profile and related profiles.

One name study project boxes do not belong on every profile with the surname. They should only be placed on profiles that are the central focus of the project's current work. They should only go on profiles where those who are interested in the person should contact the project rather than the profile manager.

Add this code above the == Biography == line and after any categories:

{{One Name Study|name=Example}}

Do not leave a space after the equal sign. For example, it should be name=Smith not name = Smith.

If your project's categorization does not follow the standard format described above, use this format instead:

{{One Name Study
| name =the name covered by your study
| category =your study's category -- not required if your category follows the usual format

Still Have Questions?

For questions and answers, see the One Name Studies FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).

This page was last modified 17:16, 1 January 2018. This page has been accessed 33,190 times.