What is a one place study?
Quite simply, it’s a study of a particular place and the people who have lived there over the years.
By ‘place’ we mean a defined geographical area. Most one-placers choose to study a village, or very small town, and the area immediately around it within its official boundaries.
By ‘people’, we generally mean everyone who lived in that place, not just those related to the one-placer’s ancestral family or people who were famous.
A one-place study brings together both the local history and family history dimensions to give a much fuller picture of what life was like in that place and why families came and went.
What can be achieved with a one place study?
So much! Most importantly, you will be reconstructing and connecting the genealogy of as many families as possible who lived in the study area.
You should discover what attracted families into the study area and what factors caused families to leave. You will learn about the differing trades that have taken place over time and the differing lifestyles of the people. You will learn about changes to the infrastructure, land and property ownership, and so much more.
The possibilities are endless!
Are all one place studies the same?
No. Every place is unique, every person is unique and so too is every one place study.
You are free to set your own priorities and work at whatever pace you are comfortable with.
Does it have to cover all time periods?
No. You may choose to focus your study on a particular time frame to start with, for example 1880-1920.
It can always be expanded later.
Does it have to cover all people?
You should aim to include all people. To start with, you may choose to focus your study on those families that have lived in the study area for several generations.
You must not limit your study to just your own family lines.
How large or small can the study area be?
Some studies cover just one street. Most cover a whole village or township.
Some US studies cover whole counties and so need the involvement of others to reach their full potential.
Do I have to live nearby?
No. It’s a bonus if you do, but many people undertaking one place studies do so from a distance, including from the opposite side of the world!
Availability of historic and genealogical records, maps and images online now means distance is no longer a barrier.
Do I have to build up a complete history?
No. You just need to establish the key events and influences that have shaped your study place.
You can choose to focus on more recent history. For example in the UK, you might wish to start from the time of the industrial revolution (1760 onwards) or from Victorian times (1837 onwards).