Hi WikiTreers,

Welcome to a new installment of “Meet our Members.” It’s time to get to know another awesome member of our community: Meet Doug.

Doug McCallum became a WikiTreer in May of 2012.  He’s involved in several projects, particularly as Project Coordinator for the Canada Project‘s Managed Profiles Team and the Categorization Project‘s Category Doctors.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

My primary research names are McCallum, Robertson, Caplette, Perkins, Strang, Price, Harding and LaFlash.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

This is an easy one. New England, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec with a bit going into New York. I’ve spent most of my research time researching the Maritime Provinces.

When and how did you get interested in genealogy and family history?

I had taken a trip to Scotland about 1985 and became interested in its history. With a surname of McCallum, there was a definite personal tie. After returning home, my Dad told me to talk to my aunt who had been researching the family for quite some time. She sent me everything she had found and taught me the basics of genealogical research. Having just finished working on completing a Master’s degree and abandoning a PhD, I was well acquainted with doing general research so genealogy wasn’t a stretch. Once I started, I was hooked.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

My favorite ancestor is Charlotte Taylor. She was born about 1755, probably in London. The first we know of her is when she marries her second husband sometime between 1774 and 1782. What makes her interesting is that she arrived in New Brunswick without a husband but with child. Charlotte ultimately married two more times (a total of four) and outlived them all. She is the stuff of legends with lots of stories about her having been passed down through the years. Northern New Brunswick was not an easy place. One of my “cousins” has written an historical fiction novel about her where she said she picked the most romantic path through the legends. The legend that Sally Armstrong chose to use was that Charlotte ran away from home with her father’s black butler. It is believed that he died somewhere in the Caribbean. I like that legend since I descend from his child who was born shortly after her arrival in New Brunswick.

Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down or one you hope to bust through.

My favorite brick wall was sorting out who my Great Grandfather, Albert Henry Perkins was. For years I felt that he must have been thrown off the saucer on its way to Roswell. No one with his name had been born in Vermont where he claimed to be from. There were Perkins families but no Waldo/Walter Perkins married to a Lorraine. Those names appeared in his three marriage records. His death record was even less accurate than his marriage records. Long story short, he was using his mother’s maiden name and was remembering an uncle who lived in the same household after Lorraine left her husband. Albert never knew who his father was. This was solved by finding his brother and researching him to find clues to their father and then following his mother forward in time.

If you could pick one person in history to be related to, who would it be and why?

This is a tough one. Should it be da Vinci (combining love of science/engineering with art) or Charles Rennie Mackintosh (art and functional design) or Maria Sybylla Merien whose fascination with insect metamorphosis lead her to study insects in Suriname on her own. Art and science are a theme.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

Outside of genealogy, I’m quite passionate about botanical art. I have a certificate in Botanical Illustration from the School of Botanical Art and Illustration at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I also like gardening and we have a large garden. With the garden, beans are a passion and we raise more than a dozen varieties. Finally, travel. We take several trips each year and most of them are genealogy related. Sometimes to research in places our ancestors lived and other times to take advanced courses in genealogy research.

How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing? If you’re  involved in a project(s), tell us about how you participate in it.

I originally joined WikiTree in 2012 but never did anything until I rediscovered it last December. Since then I’ve become more involved. I’m involved in several projects with more or less activity in each. I’m active in the Canadian project with a lot of work going on with Prince Edward Island Locations and helping do the same for New Brunswick. I’ve also just become Project Coordinator for their Managed Profiles team. In the Military and War Project, I’m working on a personal project to document the World War I soldiers of New Brunswick. Finally, I’ve become quite active in the Categorization Project where I’m becoming a Coordinator for the Category Doctors.

What brought you to WikiTree? (In other words, how did you find us?)

I had been searching for a better way to make my genealogy public. The large number of fictional trees on Ancestry that had no sources and lots of bad research made me want a single world tree. FamilySearch was a bit better but wasn’t what I wanted. WikiTree comes the closest. I can’t say how I found it but was just looking for what options existed.

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree, or which feature(s) do you like the most?

What I like the most is the intent to have a single, well documented tree.

If you could improve one thing about WikiTree, what would it be?

If I could improve one thing, it would be usability. I would work toward W3C WCAG 2.1 compliance. WikiTree is quite difficult to use for those with vision problems.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

  • Take your time and get to understand WikiTree before uploading your large GEDCOM file. It will save you time and headaches in the future.
  • Spend some time learning about sources and how to properly cite them. Good source citations not only help those who come along later, they will also help you.
  • Use WikiTree as your opportunity to become a genealogist and not just do genealogy.

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by Michael Stills

In Preparing for the Adventure, we introduced you to concept of genealogical collaboration as conceived by Chris Whitten, creator of WikiTree. As a place “where genealogists collaborate,” WikiTree encourages individuals to work together on shared ancestors while building a single family tree.

The concept of working together on shared ancestors is not the common experience on most online genealogical sites, and WikiTree is aware that this unusual experience creates challenges for the first-time participant. To help ease the transition, Chris developed the Honor Code.

For members of WikiTree, the Honor Code is the “secret sauce” to productive and enjoyable collaboration. Most people fail to read the Terms of Service before joining any given website. However, failing to do so means entering at your own peril. With WikiTree especially, it is imperative to your success and enjoyment that you understand the Honor Code and abide by its principles.

Because collaboration requires individuals with varying degrees of knowledge, skills and abilities to work together towards a common goal, the Honor Code establishes the foundation from which everyone must work.

Be forewarned, WikiTree is a unique experience that is unsettling to many, especially in the beginning. This uneasiness begins to disappear as members learn to embrace the Honor Code. Those who embrace the Honor Code often experience an epiphany about what working collaboratively truly means. For these individuals, WikiTree is as addicting as genealogy itself. In joining WikiTree and embracing all that comes with it, you will not find a better group of genealogists willing to help and who care about doing genealogy well.

So, let’s put on our Collaborative Genealogy Goggles and take a closer look at the principles of WikiTree’s Honor Code.

Our Honor Code

1. We collaborate. When we share ancestors we work together on the same ancestor profiles.

When you share the same ancestor, there should be only one profile for that ancestor. That profile does not belong to you or the person you are sharing with, it belongs to the community at large. You will collaborate on what that single profile should look like. This collaborative element requires you to share and to discuss what you know with one another, and come to an agreement of what should be included on that profile. This process is vastly different than sites like Ancestry, where each genealogist can have their own version of an ancestor. When we have to share the ancestor, we need to engage in discussion on how we know what we know. These conversations should revolve around what evidence exists to support your statements of fact. When done politely and productively, this collaboration can lead to new discoveries and better-sourced profiles.

Profile Manager is someone who has created or adopted a profile and has accepted the responsibility of developing that profile for the community. It does not mean that they own the profile. They are the WikiTree genealogist who is currently shepherding the profile and who has agreed to respond to requests for collaboration.

2. We care about accuracy. We’re always aiming to improve upon our worldwide family tree and fix mistakes.

People make mistakes, accepting this as fact and endeavoring to work together to replace mistakes with documented evidence is part of the process.

3. We know mistakes are inevitable. We don’t want to be afraid to make them. We assume that mistakes are unintentional when others make them and ask for the same understanding.

Because we know mistakes are part of the process, we help each other without attacking those who make the mistake. If we are all working from the principles of the Honor Code, mistakes provide an opportunity for clarification. Be open to discussion. In fact, because you are agreeing to collaborate, you are agreeing to respond to requests for clarification. If you do not respond, you are not collaborating. There are processes in place to help those who wish to collaborate but find it difficult because a member is not responding. For an example, visit Unresponsive Profile Manager on WikiTree.

4. We know misunderstandings are inevitable. We try to minimize them by being courteous to everyone, even to those who don’t act accordingly.

WikiTree provides examples to help you communicate on a more productive level. Visit Don’t WikiTree While Angry.

5. We respect privacy. We privacy-protect anything we think our family members might not want public. If that’s not enough for someone, we delete their personal information.

Privacy is very important on WikiTree, if you still have questions or concerns after reading WikiTree’s Privacy policy, you can reach out and ask for clarification. The staff at WikiTree is very responsive.

6. We respect copyrights. We don’t knowingly copy information that’s owned by someone else. If we ourselves want to preserve a copyright, we’re clear about what’s copyrighted so others don’t accidentally copy it.

If you have questions about what you are sharing, you can visit the G2G forum (Genealogists to Genealogists Forum) for help. Many of our members are well versed in this area and will work with you to help resolve your concerns.

7. We give credit. Although most genealogy isn’t copyrighted, researchers deserve credit for the work they’ve done.

If someone or some site has helped you find a genealogical gold nugget, give them a shout out. You can acknowledge them on their profile or on the profile they helped you with. One of the best places to say thank you is on the G2G forum, which we will discover on our next adventure.

8. We cite sources. Without sources we can’t objectively resolve conflicting information.

Beginning genealogists sometimes confuse sources with citations. WikiTree wants to know how you have come to know what you are claiming. What evidence do you have for your statements of fact? When you first create a profile you will be asked to provide evidence for the existence of the person: where did you get this information, what is your source? While one good source may be enough to create the profile, you may be asked by other collaborators for any additional source material you may have, and to document it on the profile so that they too can find it and examine it. The act of writing it down is your citation. What is unique about WikiTree is that they recognize that not everyone is a professional genealogist. Because WikiTree cares about accuracy, they have created a climate where evidence and source citations are valued and frequently requested. We will learn more about how WikiTree values source citations when we encounter Sourcerers later on in our adventure. For now, just do the best you can.

9. We are united in a mission to increase the world’s common store of knowledge. We always respect copyrights and privacy, but we keep information as free and open as possible.

Sign Here X_______________.

[YOU], Wonderful WikiTreer.

Once you have fully absorbed, understood and signed the Honor Code, you will be properly prepared to cross the threshold into the world of WikiTree. On our next adventure, we will meet the many magical helpers waiting for you in the Lost Land of G2G.

 (Michael has been a WikiTreer since December 2011 and a Volunteer Leader since Oct 2014. He is currently working for WikiTree to help expand awareness of the site. Michael is owner of Missing Roots Genealogy and a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. He recently completed the Online Genealogical Research Certificate offered through Boston University’s school of Professional Studies.)

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Hi WikiTreers,

Welcome to a new installment of “Meet our Members.” It’s time to get to know another awesome member of our community: Meet Saundra.

Saundra became a WikiTreer in August of 2017.  She spends a great deal of time adding to and improving our Ohio profiles.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Right now I’m working on my Murchland and Van Sickle ancestors.  I have the wills for the Murchlands but don’t yet know how they are all connected.  With the Van Sickles, they moved around a lot and changed the spelling of their names so much that I’m having to deeply research the locations to find connections.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

I’m working the entire state of Ohio and profiling the early settlers of each town, township, and county.  Right now I’m in Jackson county which led me to create a special category for Welsh Settlements in Ohio.  That is a perfect companion to the African American Settlements in Ohio which I started to record the freed slaves who relocated in the state.  It all will come together when I get farther along with my work in Ohio.

I’m also presently working the pioneers of “Ten Mile Country”.  This will hopefully fill in some of the blanks with my own ancestors.

When and how did you get interested in genealogy and family history?

My Aunt Jan did all the preliminary work for my direct ancestry.  She took our line back to James and Mary (Lafferty) Stuart of Cow Pasture, Virginia the hard way.  Door to door, cemetery to cemetery, and handwritten letters to county court houses. . . it took her years to accomplish what I can accomplish in a handful of hours today.  Today, many people are using her work without knowing how hard it was or how long it took for her to accumulate.

Aunt Jan saw my interest in our history on a trip to Point Pleasant when I was about 12 and she planted a seed in  me hoping I would  take up where she left off.   Apparently,  I wasn’t the only family member she touched, either.  Since I’ve now the time to work the ancestry I’ve found many cousins who’ve built on to her original work.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

That would be my Dad.  He’s West Virginia hill people through and through and it makes me proud to be descended from Appalachian Scots-Irish settlers.  But, other than Dad, I don’t have a favorite ancestor.  Some people have more interesting lives than others and it’s just fun to learn more about them.  I’m always amazed when a woman has more than 6 children.  I love the families who left their established towns and moved to newly opened territory. . . the courage it took is a testament to the human race.

Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down or one you hope to bust through.

Working the African American Settlements in Ohio is tough.  The records are scanty. . . the names aren’t complete. . . and there’s little chance of tracing them back to their origins.  Alex Haley was very lucky.  With so-called “brick walls” of Caucasians, I figure time and collaboration will eventually open doors and family Bibles so I just tell myself that the universe will help fill in the blanks and keep on truckin’.

How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing?

I’ve been on WikiTree a little over a year and I’ve learned that I have Genealogical ADD.  I’ll work a specific name or location for a time then, when everything starts mushing together in my brain, I move to another name or location.  I keep my overall focus on mine and my husband’s family and the state of Ohio so I don’t stray too far and can easily come back and continue previous work.  Since I have the entire northern half of Ohio still to work, I figure I’ll be fine for at least another year.

What brought you to WikiTree?

That was my Dad.  I was floundering looking for a decent free site to work and Dad said he liked WikiTree.  I signed up almost immediately and began working.

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree, or which feature(s) do you like the most?

I love the freedom.  I can add backgrounds, photos, sources, and even music and videos if they add to the profile of the person.  My husband and late father-in-law are musicians and I was free to add their music through YouTube videos.  Bob Evans, the late pork and restaurant mogul of Ohio, has a video series so I added that.  I can connect unrelated persons who traveled together to settle a specific area.  We can really flesh out history on WikiTree.

If you could improve one thing about WikiTree, what would it be?

Right now, there’s so many profiles on WikiTree that I’d change the name search protocol.  When searching to see if an early settler is already on WikiTree–“John Russ” for example– then John Ross, John Rust, John Russo, etc. shows up and barely 100 years are covered on the search page.  I have to go to the bottom and ask specifically for “John Russ”.  It would save time and confusion if I had to specifically ask for similar surnames rather than having to specifically ask for exact surnames.

What is an example of how WikiTree has helped you with your genealogy or how you’ve helped genealogy with WikiTree?

I hope I’ve helped genealogy by being specific.   Aunt Jan taught me that it’s “Location, Location, Location”.  There are thousands of John Smiths in New Jersey and if you don’t know their exact location you can’t know if it’s your ancestor John Smith.  So, I work hard to make sure that I narrow my locations to the smallest common denominator possible to help those who see the profiles know if it’s their ancestor.  If I can find the information, I will give a street address of the deceased person.  (I prefer not to work on those born after 1910 if I can help it.  I don’t want to mess with privacy issues.)

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Just go for it!  Create, Learn, Have Fun!  In the short time I’ve been here I’ve learned so much from other profiles and, more importantly, from the other genealogists here.  It’s OK to make mistakes because everyone knows what it’s like to be new at this.  Like it says on the page. . . Be Bold!

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Happy Wednesday WikiTreers!

Here’s this week’s WikiTree news as well as some of our favorites picks from around the genealogy community.

Happenings Around the Tree:

Happenings Around the Genealogy Community: 

New Record Additions:

Don’t forget to check  GeneaWebinars and ConferenceKeeper for upcoming genealogy webinars, online meetings, hangouts and events.

Keep calm and source on!


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Wow, WikiTreers!

imageWhat an amazing weekend! Thank you so much to everyone who participated in our 2018 Spring Clean-a-Thon.  It’s so great to see the community come together and have so much fun cleaning up our tree.

This year we handled 152,253 suggestions nearly doubling last year’s total of 80,757.  So impressive!

Here are some other stats from our event:

Top 5 Teams:

  • Team Roses: 43,393 (!)
  • Southern Super Sweepers: 12,517
  • Team GB Gen: 11,156
  • Kiwi Crew: 9,031
  • Tidying Tornadoes: 8,009

Top 5 Participants

  • Lucy Lavelle: 7,652
  • NJ Penny: 7,652 (yes, a tie for 1st!)
  • Charlotte Shockey: 7,515
  • Emma MacBeath: 5,975
  • Deb Love: 4,000

Top 5 Suggestions Handled:

  • USA Too Early in Birth Location: 25,528
  • Empty Profile: 14,695
  • USA Too Early in Death Location: 14,324
  • Separators in First Name: 9,161
  • Missing <references /> Tag: 7,590
Top Participant Per Suggestion Group:
  • Dates: Bobbie Bonner with 1,076
  • Relationships: Sandy Patak with 396
  • Names: Emma McBeth with 5,836
  • Gender: Sandy Patak with 231
  • Locations: Lucy Lavelle with 7, 297
  • Privacy: Eowyn Langholf with 235
  • Biography: NJ Penny with 3,064
  • Templates: Aleš Trtnik with 688
  • WikiData: Stephen McCallum with 101
  • FindAGrave: Chet Snow with 805

26 teams participated and 24 of them broke 1,000!  We had 385 members registered but 475 participated in some way.  Members who weren’t registered on a specific team handled 3,411.  47 individual participants broke 1,000!

Thanks again to everyone who participated.  Can’t wait to see what happens next year!

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