What is a Surname Project?


Surname Project – A Genetic Genealogy Y chromosome testing DNA project focused on a family surname and/or the testing of males who share the same spelling, sounding (e.g. Kerchner and Kerschner), or similar meaning origin surname (e.g. Zimmerman and Carpenter) to determine whether those tested share a common recent biological male ancestor in a time frame of genealogical interest, i.e., since the adoption of surnames. A surname project could be a simple extended family project conducted within an extended family or a formal family association in order to verify and confirm the existing traditional genealogical research or to better link together members of the extended family for which no precise paper trail exists as to which branch of descendants certain male lines belong to. Or the project could be a wider one-name surname project and study formed to see if family lines who share the same spelling, similar sounding, or similar meaning origin surname are biologically related via their respective direct male lines to a common male ancestor who lived in a time frame of relevant genealogical interest, i.e., since the adoption of surnames. Source: http://www.geneticgenealogydictionary.org/


Here is a link to an example of a Genetic Genealogy Surname Project:

For an overview of Genetic Genealogy (GG) basics see this report:


And for more on GG terminology see the online glossary in my DNA Testing Information help page. Link immediately below this paragraph. For more about my GG DNA Testing Dictionary, see the links below and.  http://www.kerchner.com/dna-info.htm

See an example Surname Project. For more on tools for sharing results of a Genetic Genealogy Surname Project, see and example Descent Tree Chart and Excel spreadsheet prepared for the Kerchner Surname Y-DNA Project showing the earliest known ancestor (in this case the immigrant Adam) and the MRCA, i.e., the Most Recent Common Ancestor, in this case Frederick. Note: The earliest known ancestor and the MRCA is not the same person and in many cases that is true. In this example the reason they are different is because the immigrant ancestor had only one son so all male line descendants lead back first to Frederick Kerchner, i.e., the “most recent” common ancestor. The chart also shows the transmission events as black nodes on the connecting lines down the chart. This is the minimum number of births required to create the individuals who have been Y-DNA tested in “the proven to be related from traditional evidence” group or cluster in your project starting from the MRCA. When preparing a chart like this always put the sons in each generation in each branch of descent from left to right in order of birth in their family. That helps others quickly understand and see the relationships when viewing your chart. You can also fill in the Henry Numbers if you know them. The Henry Number is a useful tool in surname projects and can be used to indicate relationships in other charts and reports in your surname project such as your Excel table used to display the group or cluster Deduced Ancestral Haplotype and the mutations, if any, observed in descendants tested.  See the second link below for and example of such an Excel table.


Diagrammatic Example of Counting Unique Transmission Events from the MRCA in a Surname Project


Kerchner Surname Project Example of Using Henry Numbers to Show Relationships to the MRCA in a Surname Project


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Charles Kerchner, P.E.



Copyright © 2005

Charles F. Kerchner, Jr.

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Created: 25 Nov 2005

Updated: 26 Nov 2005