What Are Categories For and Why Should I Use Them?

+21 votes
I use categories for military vets and sometimes other cateegories, but most of the time I forget.  Also, I don't want to junk up a profile by incluing umpteen categories. A simple explanation might encourage me to use categories and help me understand which ones to use.

1. How does a Category help me or others with research? (The old "What's in it for me? question.)

2. How many is too many?   Example: A person was born in Dracut, Massachusetts, was married in Chelmsford, moved to Vermont, fought in the War of 1812, then moved to Michigan, is buried in a cemetery in Michigan, and had a name that includes him in a One Name Study.

(I didn't know how to tag this question to get the broadest audience possible.)
asked in Policy and Style by Vic Watt G2G6 Pilot (319k points)
What wonderful answers - ALL of them!  Thanks to everyone who weighed in here, especially to Vic for asking such a great question!!!!!

5 Answers

+11 votes
Best answer
Hey Vic,

Great question(s)!  It's all data and this big ole tree is one huge DataBase!

If I am interested in possible people who lived in a certain area, I can quickly get a glimpse of those people by going to the Category.  THIS is assuming profile managers are adding birth or residence place categories to profiles.

I might want to know who shares a certain profession...so I look for the category Architect and so on.

We can do queries all over WikiTree based on this information.  The uses for categories seem unlimited to me.  One thing I have thought might be interesting is having categories for casue of death.  If we wanted to find out if granpa Joe lived in a area where typhoid outbreak happened I might be able to find that easily and realize that the family lore that grandpa died of typhoid might be true.

Oh so many wonderful uses for categories!

answered by Mags Gaulden G2G6 Pilot (461k points)
selected by Foster Ockerman
+14 votes
Hi Vic, Like all of WikiTree, categories are an ongoing process.  I envision a day when clicking on a category will take you to the category page where a list of references and sources to aid in research can be found, specific to the category.  I do think that there is a tendancy to break categories into too specific subcats that will never be populated by more than a small handfull of profiles and also too many categories are created that serve no real purpose.  How many are too many is a decision for the Profile Manager. In your cited example I get a pretty good idea of his life just by reading the categories. My 2 worth, hope it's helpful.
answered by Dan Thompson G2G6 Mach 2 (21.6k points)

Check out Category:Source. It isn't all you're looking for, but it's a start.
+7 votes

There are several uses of categories that are fairly new.  Companies, an example: 

Jahncke Shipyard, Madisonville, Louisiana  a Jahncke was a major employer in the town.  Most famly members had a connection.  At this point 7 men have been identifed that worked there.  A video - actually a collection of old photos - has been found and is linked to on the category page.  If your family had any connection to Madisonville it is worth watching.

Using a specific unsourced category: an example:

Louisiana Unsourced Profiles this category is  sub category of the Unsourced profile page but specific to Louisiana.  It is being used to identify profiles for those working on Louisiana - that need to be worked on first.  By using a specific location category it makes it easier for someone with either the expertise or access to specific sources will be able to find and work on the profile.


answered by Philip Smith G2G6 Pilot (249k points)
Excellent answer, Philip. Thank you for all the categorization work you do. You've been a trailblazer.

Merry Christmas.
+4 votes
Location categories can be eye openers. Whenever I add a place of residence category for a profile, I always click on the category to see who else lived there. Sometimes ancestors lived in a certain place from several different branches of my family. Sometimes they are living in a county with ancestors of auDNA cousins we've not found a paper trail to yet.

Let's take Halifax County, Virginia for an example. There's a Charles W. Garrett living there. I don't know if he's related to AJ Jacobs' (and my mother's) Garretts, but it's a good possibility since an in-law of AJ's Garretts also lived in that county. In this same location are two of my paternal grandfather's ancestors from different lines. There's also an ancestor of my paternal grandmother's line. A name I'm researching from another state for a potential ancestor is also on this page. As more people use these residential categories, it will provide us with all kinds of clues for additional research.

This isn't an isolated example. A number of other counties have my ancestors down several lines appearing in the same county and this is long before their descendants met and married.

It's easy to see how we can have so many untraced auDNA cousins when you realize many of them lived in the same spots on the globe just one or two hundred years ago.
answered by Debby Black G2G6 Mach 8 (80.7k points)
edited by Debby Black
+5 votes

I love our categories. My #1 reason is because they are terrific for aligning dates for when an ancestor was active.

For instance, if we can pinpoint someone to a battle date, a ship, or a priory, it's possible to get more accuracy in the vital info, and extra leads to sources. And it only gets better when we can add many people to a certain event or 'village'. .. It paints a better story of the life they lived, and how they all relate. It's one of the biggest reasons why I'm just as interested in my family's neighbors, partners, local ministers, war adversaries, etc.

My other #1 reason that I love our categories is because they are easier to search, since the custom Google search engine is tied into them. It helps us get around WikiTree a lot faster:D

I keep WikiTree's Google category search engine link bookmarked in my toolbar! Here's the link everyone can all use:



answered by Unknown Unknown G2G6 Mach 2 (29.4k points)

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