The popular BBC series ‘Who do you think you are?’ describes the quest of celebrities to trace their family histories back to the 19th century and beyond. Now a fascinating new study allows us all to explore the geography of our family histories, using a unique website that tracks how many people have our surnames, their origins and where they live today.
The Surname Profiler website (at www.spatial-literacy.org) is part of an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) sponsored study led by Professors Paul Longley and Richard Webber of University College, London. It uses 46 million surname records supplied by Experian to identify the origins and past and present locations of Britain’s top 25,000 family names, and where they can be found in Ireland, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
Methods developed in the study are also being used in a bid to understand patterns of population movement, social mobility, regional economic development and cultural identity.
Alexandra Saxon | alfa
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