I have recently started to think about the ongoing future of the One-Name Study I am undertaking on the GRAY and GREY names. What happens when I am no longer able to continue with it? Does the study – as I know it – stop?
Does someone else start up a study for those names? If they do, then do they take over the data I have gathered or do they start from scratch?
Another way of looking at it could be asking what I would want before taking over another study?
I would want to read something that explains what the study is about, the approach that has been followed, the results to date and “brick walls”. I would also like to receive data that has been gathered – but acknowledge that I may not have the necessary authority (see below). So – do I have this to give to the next person?
As prompted by a Pharos course I went on in 2011 – I put together a “vision”
and “goals”. But I now note that I have not kept the goals current and have not reported progress against each goal. While this does seem overly bureaucratic, I realise that, without keeping this up to date it becomes pointless for me, and useless for anyone taking over the study. So I am about to look into this. [New Year’s Resolution.]
- The word “data” covers a number of areas including:
- downloads of indices from such as Ancestry and FreeBMD
- downloads of images from such as Ancestry, British Library, Findmypast, London Gazette and the UK’s National Archives
- certificates (real and faux) from the UK’s GRO and the Guild’s Marriage Challenge.
- my transcriptions
Many of these I do not have the authority to hand over to anyone else and so my copies would cease to exist.
The word “results” means different things within this study. I do have some re-constituted trees – but there would need to be a bit of work to untangle them from trees I have re-constituted for other ancestral branches (e.g. those for my wife, mother, grandmothers and friends of mine). I have some very tables / graphs from my initial foray into demography. I also have some thoughts on origins of the name (mainly thoughts of others!) as well as initial moves into “famous” or notable holders of the name. Other than the trees, there isn’t much of real value to anyone taking over the study – but, of course, they are welcome to it.
So – trees. I suggest that these are only useful if they have been properly sourced and assessed for accuracy. I do try and remember to source data but, on reviewing my early attempts, I find that I have a lot of gaps and inconsistencies (no way near “Evidence Explained”!). But the major shortfall is that I have not indicated how sure I am of the result. For example – how sure am I that Mary Brown is the mother of John Smith. I have merrily followed census trails, supporting my decisions with entries from Parish Records where they exist – but have I chosen only data that has supported my hypothesis and chosen not to see other possibilities? With many thousands of people in my trees, how many family relationships are “solid” and how many are just “possible”. Would someone taking over the study be able to rely on what I have done or would they need to start from square one?
Where is all this held? While not as much as other people, I do have a fair bit of paper (a lever-arched file and a large of envelopes containing faux certificates). Yes – I could scan the certificates in, or photograph them. The lever-arched file is mainly family related, or from the very early days of the study, and would go in the bin. The 4GBytes of digital data (images, alpha-numeric, etc) are all on the PC with copies in the cloud – but most would need deleting (see above. The results are also on the PC, but published on a web-site (www.gray-ons.org). However – I would need to strip out the non-ONS data from the trees before handing over (not too difficult).
So, while parts of my study would be of use to whomever take it on, most would either not be “good enough” or I don’t have permission to hand it over.
All I need to do now is ensure that what I can hand over is of good quality
– so a lot of work to do.