How to Find Family and Surname Associations

By April Leigh Helm, Matthew L. Helm

In addition to geographically based genealogy associations, you can find groups tied to names or family groups. Typically, they’re referred to as — you’ve probably already guessed — surname or family associations or research groups.

Family associations also frequently sponsor projects that coordinate the efforts of several researchers. These projects may focus on the family or surname in a specific geographic area or point in time, or they may attempt to collect information about every individual possessing the surname throughout time and then place the information in a shared database.

To find family and surname associations, your best bet is to visit a comprehensive genealogical website, a search engine, or a site that specializes in surnames, such as SurnameWeb.

The following steps show you how to find groups pertaining to a surname on the site:

  1. Launch your web browser and go to the SurnameWeb site.

    After the page loads, you see a search field and the letters of the alphabet near the top center of the page.
  2. Click the letter of the alphabet that’s the first letter of the surname that you’re researching.

    For example, say that the surname you’re researching begins with the letter P. Find the link to the letter P and click it. This action brings up a web page with the P index.
  3. Click the next level link corresponding to the first and second letter of the surname you’re researching.

    The link labeled Po has been selected. You see a list of surname links that begin with the letters Po.
  4. Scroll through the list and click a surname link.

    Looking for sites relating to the surname Pollard, the user clicked the link for the Pollard surname, which displayed a Results page entitled Pollard Surname Resource Center.
  5. Choose a site to visit.

    Scroll down past all the links to search other commercial websites until you reach the links you’re most interested in. You can see the links that would take you directly to personal and group web pages containing information about people named Pollard; select the link titled Pollard Genealogy Web Pages under Pollard Surname Search.

In addition to using comprehensive genealogy sites and specialized surname sites, you can use other strategies to identify possible research groups. One way to find research groups pertaining to surnames is to visit a one-name studies index. You can find a list of one-name studies sites at the Guild of One-Name Studies page.