Starting your own One Place Study

What is a One Place Study?

Are you interested in learning more about a house, street, village or area?

Perhaps you’ve been hit by inspiration after watching ‘A House Through Time’.
You might trying to navigate around a brick wall in your genealogy.
Or maybe you’d simply like to learn more about where you live. 

A One Place Study looks into the history of a place, the buildings, the people and the stories that define it.

Society for One-Place Studies
30 miles is a long way when you don't drive. Oops!

Picking a Place

You’ve probably already chosen this but in case you haven’t, my only advice is to pick somewhere that you live or can easily visit.

It’s not impossible to research somewhere further away, especially with so many sources online and in the archives, but being about to easily photograph places and talk to people in your area is invaluable.

I’ve learned this the hard way!

What do you want to achieve?

It can be easy to rush in, full of enthusiasm, haphazardly finding any and all sources that mention your place and sharing them with the world. But before you get started, take a step back and ask yourself “what do I want?”.

There is no right or wrong answer to this question but it’s a good idea to start with a general aim. By picking this in advance, you’ll improve the way you spend your time and (hopefully!) make more progress. No goal is too big.

It’s also worth noting that your goals might not be anything to do with local history. Maybe you just want to learn how Social Media works. and your OPS is all about sharing old photos on Facebook & Twitter.

For me, it’s all about connecting sources. We normally approach family history research by starting with a person, and then looking for sources. My aim is to start with sources, and then connect them to people.

Look out for #AncestryHour and #OnePlaceWednesday on Twitter
I attach all my sources to people in FamilySearch.

Step by Step

Now that we’ve decided on our aims, it might seem a bit daunting! Break it into achievable chunks and don’t worry about how impossible your overall plans are.

My aim, for example, is to have a ‘completed’ profile on FamilySearch for every person that has ever lived in any of the villages in the Deverills… It sounds impossible!

Here’s how I’ve split it up:
Step 1 – Attach Brixton Deverill censuses to people on FamilySearch, adding profiles if needed.
Step 2 – Do the same for christening records (Up to 1900 to avoid the potential of living people)
Step 3 – Do the same for burial records
Step 4* – Repeat this for the other villages

It’s still not an easy feat but it does seem like a much more achievable one. And as I’ve added more information, linked up people and connected sources, it’s all started to come together. It’s like one big jigsaw puzzle. 

Sources, Sources, Sources

The steps above look a bit… well… boring. The real fun is in the juicy stories!

Fights, poaching, love, religion, rebellions, royal visits, noblemen, protests, drunken behaviour, rumours etc. Newspapers, particularly, are full of interesting stories and you will end up losing track of time!

As fun as it can be to stay up all night reading about the drama of the 1800s, after a while you’ll find yourself coming across the same articles, or worse, forgetting where that particularly good find was…

Whether you use FamilySearch, WikiTree, Ancestry, FindMyPast, Excel, GoogleDocs, or your own system…
Keep track of your sources!  


The British Newspaper Archive has a wealth of information but searching can be a trawl.
WikiTree have an area for One Place Studies. The community is great but I find the platform quite difficult to use.

Do I need my own website?


You don’t need to have a website to do a One Place Study.

There are places you can record information for free: FamilySearch, WikiTree, Google Drive, Online Parish Clerks sites etc.

There are places you can share your newly found information for free: Facebook, Twitter etc.

Does it cost anything?


If you want a website, you can make a free one. I’d recommend Google Sites.
You can find sources at the archives, libraries (which often provide free Ancestry access), you can find births, marriages and deaths from the GRO (search but don’t buy) and there are a huge number of free sources online. I’m particularly fond of Google Books and The Internet Archive.

You can register your One Place Study at the Society for One Place Studies for free and it only costs £10 a year  to become a member. (Free for students)

The Internet Archive has millions of books, videos, audio files and images for free
The best way to learn is by doing. It'll be fine 🙂

Need any Help? Just Ask!

The One Place Studies community are incredibly helpful and welcoming.

There are no stupid questions and someone has probably already asked the same thing.  I highly recommend getting on Twitter and introducing yourself with the hashtag #Oneplacestudy.
(And of course, make sure to follow @DeverillsOps !)

Or if you’d prefer, feel free to drop me an email:

Good luck & I look forward to seeing your One Place Study!