A ONE-NAME SOCIETY
May 30, 2010
A one-name society is just that—a study of all the facts of only one surname. It is not a pedigree. It does not search the ancestors of one person or a person or couple’s descendants. A one-name society is only interested in a particular surname and this requires the same research skills and techniques of family history. Many times simply hitting a brick wall necessitates finding all research and references to a surname in hopes of finding a clue to get them back on the research track.
The Guild of One Name Studies, www.one-name.org/index.html, maintains a large database of surnames and publishes a journal to its members. It costs about $22 American dollars and originates from Berkshire, England.
Rather than join a guild, many people begin a one-name society with their own database of a particular surname. For instance, I did not find a study on Dalgreich, Swain or Spencer and its variant spelling of deSpencer. Yet, there is such an organization for the name Spencer. It was originally founded in 1978 as the Spencer Family Association with a nucleus of 38 Charter Members but renamed in 1990. Current SHGS members descend from many different Spencer lines and reside in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, England, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia, and the West Indies.
The objective of the Society is to encourage research and permanent recording of Spencer family history as well as collateral family lines. To meet this objective, the SHGS maintains a Library of books and papers with over 200 titles relating to various Spencer families, and are available to members for loan and, in some cases, for purchase. Several SHGS members have authored manuscripts and books about Spencer families that are in the Spencer library collection, and in the Library of Congress.
The Society also maintains a computerized database, currently containing over 165,000 individuals and 61,000 families of Spencer descendants submitted by members and other sources. It is continuously increasing, and members may request information on their lineage from the database.
The SHGS holds a Reunion every two years in a different part of the country offering members an opportunity to visit places of genealogical interest and to hear speakers on subjects of interest to members. Reunions have been held in Spencer, IN, Ft. Wayne, IN, Albany, NY, Haddam/East Haddam, CT, Lexington, KY, Salt Lake City, UT, Williamsbur,g VA, Charlotte, NC, Geneva, OH, Grapevine, TX, St. Louis, MO, Franklin, TN, and Valley Forge, PA.
Membership includes online access to le Despencer, the SHGS quarterly journal, which contains Spencer genealogical articles, editorial comments, announcements, and a "Query" section. Members may submit queries without charge.
An elected Board of Directors and a dedicated volunteer staff conduct society business. The officers and staff do not do research for members, but some information and informal assistance can often be provided on request. Correspondence to an officer or staff member requiring a reply must include a business-size SASE. Members are encouraged to exchange information with other members, and submit articles for publication in le Despencer.
The SPENCER DNA Project, begun in 2001, has proven to be a valuable tool to researchers attempting to prove their Spencer lineage. This project is coordinated by the SHGS Data Manager but is not financially sponsored by SHGS. Any Spencer descendant or anyone researching the Spencer surname with all its variant spellings may join by going to their website www.spencersociety.org.
Searching for a one-name study group might help you break down your brick wall.
Brenda Kellow has a bachelor's degree in history, teaches, and lectures on genealogy. Before retiring to publish her family’s histories in 2007, Brenda held certification as a Certified Genealogist and as a Certified Genealogical Instructor. Send reunions announcements, books to review, and genealogy queries to: TracingOurRoots@gmail.com.