One Name Studies FAQ Page

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This page is a part of the One Name Studies Project

Frequently Asked Questions
If you don't see your question answered here, ask in G2G and tag your question one_name_studies.
If you'd rather ask privately or want to see a question answered here, contact an ONS Project Leader.


The Basics

What is a one name study?

A One Name Study (ONS) is a project that focuses on researching all occurrences of an individual surname.

How many one name studies can I have?

Each individual may coordinate up to three (3) Name Studies. Coordinating a Name Study can be a lot of work, so this limit is in place to ensure collaboration and research are your primary focus.
The good news is, you can participate as a member in an infinite amount of Name Studies!

Can I have Name Studies for surnames other than my own?

Yes! The surname can be one held by an ancestor, your own Last Name At Birth (LNAB), or even your married name. There are no restrictions to whom can coordinate or be a member of certain Name Study!
Of course, this also means that if someone asks to join the Name Study, but does not have the surname themselves, they can still join.

Where can I find the list of one name studies on WikiTree?

For an index of all Name Studies, see Category:One_Name_Studies.
Many surnames do not have their own unique One Name Study yet, but may be covered as a variant of another study. To see if a specific surname is part of an existing One Name Study project, enter the surname 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. "Cooke Project".
If a surname is currently listed as a variant in another study, a variant overlaps with another existing study, or where the variant is more commonly found as a surname in its own right - Contact the ONS Project Leaders for assistance.

How does a new study get listed on the ONS index page?

This is done automatically through categorization.
If you need assistance, contact the ONS Project Leaders.

How does a new study get linked from the appropriate surname index page?

This is not done automatically. ONS Project Leaders will enable this as part of the creation of the Name Study.

Are all one name studies the same?

Yes and No. The ultimate aim of an ONS is to research the genealogy and family history of all persons with a given surname. But how you go about this is what sets your Name Study apart.

Does it make a difference if the surname is common or uncommon?

Both common and uncommon surnames can produce effective name studies, even though the specific goals and tasks might be different. For example, a name study for a very common name like "Smith" might focus more on finding sources for the many unsourced Smith profiles and trying to connect unconnected Smiths to the Global Family Tree. A name study for a less common name like Portendorfer would likely spend more time tracing a handful of specific family lines and improving biographies.

Can you create a one name study for a patronymic name?

Yes! While most surname studies follow one surname through the generations, one of the global goals of an ONS is to determine name meanings, and whether or not they are matronymic, occupational, patronymic, topynomic, etc.
Since only those patronymic names should be included in your study - be aware that an ONS might not help break down a brick wall - but would serve as a tool for further patronymic research.

What can be achieved with a one name study?

  1. Name origins (or earliest references);
  2. Name meanings (are they matronymic, occupational, patronymic, topynomic, etc.);
  3. The relative frequency or occurence of the name;
  4. Patterns in migration;
  5. Name variations and specific name branches; and
  6. Reconstruct the genealogy of as many lines as possible.

Does a one name study have to be worldwide?

Yes and No. As a One Name Study, the project serves as a genealogical collaboration platform that is centered around that particular name. However, you can limit your own research to a particular geographic area, time period, or even a single family line - but you would create a separate page and link it to the main Study page.
You should always welcome into the study anyone who wants to research the surname, no matter which location they may be interested in.

What is an ONS Coordinator?

ONS Projects are lead by ONS Coordinators. These coordinators help to organize surname projects and teams as a genealogical collaboration platform that is centered around a particular name. Also see Coordinator Requirements.

Getting Started

How do I set up the one name study category?

Your primary Name Study Category (e.g., Category:Smith Name Study) is placed into the main One Name Study Category:
[[Category:One Name Studies]]
Your Name Study can then be broken down into subcategories, such as Devon, Haywood Name Study; Blacksmiths, Distin Name Study; or Spouses, Blagdon Name Study.
Now you can add your specific Study's category (or template which includes categorization) onto a profile in order for it to be included in your Name Study Categories. Only add your Name Study category or a template if you are the Profile Manager of the profile! If you are not, remember to ask first. It would help to explain why the profile would fit in your name study, and you may also find that the Project Manager would be interested in joining your study!
For a list of every profile with a given surname (whether they are currently included in your Study or not) can be found on the genealogy page (also known as the surname index). This would be a page like: You can change HARRIS to whatever surname you are interested in.
Using categories can be complicated. If you have questions or need help setting up categories, please contact the ONS Project Leaders for assistance, or can use the Category Request form.

Do I have to have a free-space profile for the project page or can I just use the name study category?

Yes! The Space page serves as the collaboration platform for the study. It also enables links to work in the background, and is the 'front door' of your Study.
Creation of a one name study category means there will be a Space page which will be managed by the ONS Project. If you want to index profiles together but not be responsible for an ONS Project, please don't use the One Name Studies Project's category tree. Instead, check out Personal Categories.

What happens if two studies were created for the same surname?

WikiTree is all about collaboration. The first member who registers the Name with the ONS Project will serve as the ONS Coordinator.
Ideally, all individual research happens on Space pages that are linked to the main Name Study page. These pages can be linked to the main Name Study page! There should always be a single "home base" Name Study page that includes links to any other free space pages related to the project.

Including Person Profiles

How do profiles get added to the one name study?

Enter the category (or a template that includes categorization) for the one name study to the biography section of a profile - categories above the heading; templates below the heading - and it will automatically appear on the category page once you save.
Never use [[Category:One Name Studies]] on person profiles. This is a "top level" category that should only be placed on your name study category page and will generate DB Errors for profiles.

Should I include females and adoptees? What about for those that married into the family?

This is up to the members of the surname project and what goals are to be accomplished.
Here is a (made-up) example. Susan Hill marries at age 17 and becomes Susan Murch. She lives for anotjer 70 years, has multiple children, and dies as Susan Murch. Should she be included in the Murch Name Study?
  1. Some say 'no', because she was born a Hill.
  2. Some say 'yes', because she only lived for 17 years as a Hill, mothered multiple Murch children, and live 70 years as a Murch.
If a team study is to identify specific DNA results, think about who contributed to that DNA. Some things to consider:
  1. Is this study to identify males of a particular surname for yDNA test results? Then only males born into the line should be added.
  2. Is this study to identify all family members that contributed their DNA for autosomal or mitochondrial DNA test results? Then anyone born into the family, male and female, should be added.
In short, it is completely up to you and your specific research needs!

Can profiles included in a one name study be project-protected?

Yes, but see the general requirements for project-protected profile (PPP) status. This is rarely (if ever) done by the ONS Project itself, but is rather done through Geographical or Topical Projects.

Inspiration and Assistance

Are there examples of one name studies on WikiTree?


Have you seen a one name study on WikiTree that inspired you? Let us know about it with a comment below!

What are related WikiTree pages and projects?

What are external tools and resources for name studies?

Comments: 11

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Why do some profiles on ONS list not have the categorization of the ONS
posted by Sandra (Griffin) Vines
Hi Sandra. That's a good question. Some profiles in an ONS may be added using a category that is added to the profile, while others are added by using a sticker that identifies it as part of a study and adds the category automatically. In that case, it doesn't appear in the list of categories on the edit screen. I hope that helps.
posted by Amy (Crawford) Gilpin
My question still stands. More than one of my Wilhite line is on ONS list ,under Wilhite, but there is no sticker or Wilhite name study Cat, on profile. How do we correct this?
posted by Sandra (Griffin) Vines
Have you tried contacting the study coordinators? Or, perhaps you can send me a private message with links to the profiles.
posted by Amy (Crawford) Gilpin
How does this profile handle variants of surnames? For example, should there be a separate ONS for Smith and Smyth?
posted by Wes Miller
Variants are typically handled on a case by case basis. If Smyth is only a minority variant of Smith, and Smyth can be found as a surname in its own right, then it could have its own Name Study.
posted by Steven Harris
Is there a List of one name study surnames?

Ah! I see it at:


posted by John R Carpenter
I trying to add this person to Reed Surname project but I don’t see link to add her. Could I get some help with it.


I trying to add this woman to the Engel Surname project but no link to do so can I get some help. Billie

This is a really great FAQ page. Thank you, Doug and Alison! The One Name Studies Project is becoming more and more important all the time. An ONS is such a fundamental form of genealogy collaboration.
posted by Chris Whitten