With our individual family trees, the focus is on our own direct lineages: our immediate ancestors, their siblings, and probably some of the related lines connected to ours through marriage. A one-name study (ONS) takes a different approach. Briefly stated, the distinction between a one-name study and a personal genealogy is that the ONS is interested in researching all occurrences of a surname or group of surnames, irrespective of time or place, as opposed to a particular ancestry (all ancestors of one person) or descendancy (all descendants of one person or couple).
The Threlkeld One-Name Study (the Study) supports and utilizes the genealogies of individual family lines, but our focus is on the broader origins, histories, circumstances, activities, pedigrees, and migrations of the surnames we study. The basic parameters for the scope of the Study are:
- The Study is global: As an ancient English surname, Threlkeld and variants are more commonly found in certain countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The initial research will be there, but other countries are not precluded.
- The Study includes all timeframes: No period of inquiry, ancient to present, is excluded.
- The Study's default language is English: Source documentation and information in other languages will be accepted, but the ability to analyze them will be possible only if the expertise exists among participating members.
- The Study will be managed as a portfolio: A portfolio is a collection of programs, projects, and operations managed as a group to achieve strategic objectives. The Study is not time-bounded in that is has no specified end date. (See Design & Methodology for more information.)
Thomas MacEntee is credited with formulating a theme of "The Seven C's" for genealogical investigation. We've modified that slightly into "The Seven C's of One-Name Studies": Collect, Curate, Calculate, Create, Connect, Conserve, Continue. We use these as our guiding principles:
- Collect: The Study requires data. These data can come from many sources and be of many types. As you would in researching your own family tree, we continually look for new information and new sources.
- Curate: Information serves as evidence only on a sliding scale. The high value of some evidence is readily apparent; some evidence has good potential value but may require evaluation; some evidence is tertiary, weak, or even discredited. Curation of what data and sources are important, and what should be discounted, is an ongoing process.
- Calculate: The objective of a one-name study is not just the collection of data; collection is a means to an end. After data is gathered, analysis begins; juxtapositions and relationships discovered; new avenues of investigation undertaken; and hypotheses formed.
- Create: The Study works primarily by multiple projects, some very small and finished in only a few days, some larger and benefiting from the work of several people. By definition: "A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result." Every project's objective is the creation of a result, be that a short biography of an ancestor, or a longer term effort to link two family branches by DNA evidence.
- Connect: Collaboration is key. A successful one-name study is never a one-person endeavor. By connecting people who have varied genealogies and passions and expertise—but who all share an interest in a common surname—we can leverage combined skills and time to build something we could never accomplish individually.
- Conserve: One advantage the digital world gives us is the ability to avoid the fires and floods that destroyed so many precious genealogical records in the past. Safeguarding all data involved in the Study—that submitted by Members, and that generated by Study projects—is paramount. See Design & Methodology for steps we are taking now and in the immediate future.
- Continue: No organization, plan, or process is as good as it can be. The very foundations of quality management are built on continual improvement. Perhaps the simplest and most familiar of these is the W. Edwards Deming "Plan, Do, Check, Act" cycle. This iterative process is as simple as: make a plan for improvement; implement the plan; monitor and review the results; make changes as needed, and as input to the next planning stage.
The Study's objectives are relatively short-term, looking forward only one to two years. As information is collected, research projects completed, and Member experience and needs evaluated, we will regularly apply the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle which will, almost certainly, result in revisions to our objectives:
- To improve understanding of the origins, etymologies, and histories of the Threlkeld surname and its common variants
- To identify and categorize surname variants, and to prioritize the most applicable and common variants
- To use DNA to validate or disprove unique or shared Threlkeld lineages, and to examine possible connections among variant spellings
- To reconstruct/document the genealogies of major lines bearing the surname and variants
- To analyze patterns of immigration and emigration
- To model the distribution of Threlkeld families in geography and time
- To store and make digitally available to Study Members select core genealogical datasets; electronic images or transcriptions of source materials; unique family artifacts and photographs; pertinent data derived from the sister Threlkeld Surname DNA Project; and related compilations, analyses, and narratives