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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

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Now Study Your Last Name with Genealogies on


Search The Guild of One-Name Studies on
I received the press release included below about collections of The Guild of One-Name Studies being available now at I was inspired by the addition of the Guild of One-Name Studies to today. It was difficult to find at first. It is not in the record collections, but you will find it in the Genealogies collection. For the first time, I decided to search the "Genealogies" collection which has been available on for quite some time.  I have included the press release below for you, but I  am starting with my first search and a little background about my research challenge.  Here goes:

You might raise the question: "How can the Genealogies database benefit people researching African American ancestors?" I have been researching my great grandfather "John Henry Foster" for decades. He died in 1899, and he would have been born after 1880 which means he would not appear on a census.  The only record I have for him is his marriage to his wife Mary Elizabeth Patterson (Mayliza) in Mississippi.  

After his death, the family lived in Vicksburg, Warren County, Mississippi. I would like to learn as much as possible about this family before taking a research trip. Since researching the family group has not helped determine anymore about John, perhaps studying the people with the same name living in this geographical area will provide clues.

I am hesitant to exclude down to only African American people with the surname Foster because it might cause me to miss important clues. Even though a person may not be African American, a person with the same last name living in the same area may lead to  a former enslaver, and I do not know as of yet if Fosters were enslaved or free prior to 1865. Anyone by that name living in the area prior to 1900 may lead me to historical documentation.
  1. Access the collection by going to
  2. Genealogies
  3. Enter your surname (I also entered Mississippi for a location)
  4. Click Search.
I was surprised to find Fosters living who lived in Jefferson and Warren Counties (see screenshot below). Were they connected to my Fosters from Vicksburg? Did my Fosters from Vicksburg migrate from McBride prior to 1900? That is at least one clue to follow. I will follow up by researching this family to learn more about them, and I will look for more clues from people who lived in the same geographical area. Perhaps I will find siblings or other connections to John Henry Foster.
Result of searching "Foster and Mississippi" in Genealogies Collection at
Next, figured out how to locate the Guild of One-Name Studies Collection on from The Guild of One-Name Studies is Now Available at When you search the Genealogies collection, you need to click the "All' button next to the blue "Search" button. Select Guild of One-Name Studies from the list (See the screenshot of this search above). Then click search. You will get results from only that collection.

I know Foster is probably not the original name for my family as far as I can tell, but it is interesting to know the earliest mention of that surname. One of the earliest Foster mentioned in the collection is Bridget Foster (supposedly married in 1767) from Liverpool. Now get this!  I could actually research the Fosters who came from places in England (births, marriages, etc.) AND migrated to the United States AND migrated or had descendants who migrated to Mississippi. This could connect me to people who might have enslaved my family. I am envisioning courthouse records already. I just need to exhaust the possibilities in the database. Long shots right? Well, it is better than what I had before, nothing!

I could also trace the Foster's living in the area that my Foster's lived in Mississippi to see if they are related to me or if they are part of the slave holding family. This could link me to clues about my own family.  Anyway, I hope you can appreciate this little synopsis of how I include new collections to my own research. If you want to learn more about The Guild of One-Name Studies, visit Guild of One-Name Studies on FamilySearch Wiki and Guild of One-Name Studies.
Press Release from

For Immediate Release
Guild of One-Name Studies Is Now Available at
The online resource helps people trace the possible origins and variations of their last name.
LONDON, UK and SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (September 6, 2016)—The Guild of One-Name Studies, a charitable organization that promotes facts about given surnames, and FamilySearch International, a nonprofit and the largest genealogy organization in the world, announced today The Guild’s collections will now be searchable at  The partnership gives Guild members another source for preserving their great work while also allowing more researchers across the globe to benefit from exploring the variant spellings of their personal surnames and possibly connect with others with the same last name throughout the world. 

The study of one’s last name (one-name or surname) researches all known occurrences of that particular surname in all identifiable resources worldwide, as opposed to the ancestors or descendants of a person. Such richly compiled studies can assist a family history researcher see the geographical distribution of surnames in their tree over centuries which can help in reconstructing family lines bearing variants of those names. A common hope of customers that use surname studies is to identify the actual geographic locale of origin of a family surname. This could very well happen for unique surnames, but for common surnames that reflect an occupation (like “Farmer” or “Fisher”) or a patronymic-type surname (Johnson or Williamson), there may not be a single place of origin.
Cliff Kemball, Guild Publicity Manager said “The partnership with FamilySearch give Guild members another method of preserving their One-Name Study data.  Their data is fully preserved for the long term, while still remaining within the control of the Guild member, who may update, replace or delete it as their work develops.”
The Guild was founded in 1979, and has over 2,980 members, studying over 8,935 individual surnames.  The Guild of One-Name Studies website launched April 1, 2016, and is continually expanding its list of surnames. The Guild expects the volume of data submitted by Guild members to significantly increase now that they can make their research contributions online. And teaming up with will ensure more people are making interesting discoveries about their surnames.

David Rencher, the Chief Genealogy Office for FamilySearch, said, “The rigorous standards and guidelines required by the Guild of One Name Studies for members of the guild make this the highest quality data available for these surnames. Those who administer and oversee the collection of this data have spent decades collecting all instances of the surnames from a wide variety of records. Since many of these sources are yet to be made available on the Internet, this new set of records on FamilySearch is a rich new source of information.”

To see if your surname has been researched by The Guild community, go to, Search, Genealogies, enter your last name, and search Guild of One-name Studies.

More information about the Guild can be found at where researchers can also register their own surnames.

About The Guild of One-Name Studies
The Guild of One-Name Studies is the world's leading organisation for one-name studies. A one-name study is a project researching facts about a surname and all the people who have held it, as opposed to a particular pedigree (the ancestors of one person) or descendancy (the descendants of one person or couple). The Guild is a charitable organisation dedicated to promoting the public understanding of one-name studies and the preservation and accessibility of the resultant information. Founded in 1979, the Guild now has over 2,980 members spread across the world, studying over 8,935 individual surnames.


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Now Study Your Last Name with Genealogies on

Search The Guild of One-Name Studies on I received the press release included below about collections of The Guild of...