Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
A surname study can refer to a number of distinct activities, including general research to determine surname origin and surname meaning; one-name studies focused on identifying all instances of a single surname; and studies focused on comparing the Y-DNA of multiple individuals. While all surname studies have benefit, the DNA surname study has become increasingly popular. Research has shown that surnames and genetic information are often strongly connected, as males typically inherit their father's surname as well as his DNA.
The DNA surname study, also known as a "surname project," is coalition of sorts in which those of a particular surname submit Y-DNA results for comparison with others, aimed identifying ancestral origins; recent common ancestors; and connecting with others of the same surname. Among its many uses, the DNA surname project can help those with a common name narrow the field of potential ancestors, regardless of spelling variations; it can also help researchers locate brick wall ancestors lost through the passage of time; and may also put researchers in contact with others who have more information on the paper trail of a particular ancestor. A number of GenWeekly articles are focused different aspects of surname research. For more information on DNA studies and their uses in genealogy, see the GenWeekly articles, Beyond the Paper Trail: Discovering Family History with Different DNA Tests and SNPs and Snails: What is your deep ancestry? ($).