Meet our Members: Steven Whitfield

+23 votes

Hi everyone!

Meet_our_Members_Photos-30.pngIt's time to get to know another one of our wonderful WikiTreers. This week's member is Steven Whitfield.

Steven became a Wiki Genealogist in June of 2020. He currently leads the Lancashire Team in the England Project.

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

In June 2017, I was recuperating from an operation and took a trial subscription of FindMyPast to see what I could discover about my ancestors.  Within a few hours, I was hooked, even more so when I took out a full subscription and found newspaper articles that added stories and extra detail to supplement the information in censuses and other records.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I have enjoyed sport throughout my life, although at the moment, it’s a case of spectating rather than playing. I was a keen golfer and enjoyed cycling and walking. I’m keen to get moving properly again once my body has adjusted to my replacement knee.

What is your genealogical research focus?

I am keen to document what I have discovered for my descendants. I found that WikiTree is ideal for recording and developing findings.  I like the idea of the single world tree and enjoy adding new profiles that connect unconnected people or shorten existing connections.

Are you are interested in certain surnames or locations?

On my dad’s side, my Whitfield roots in Heighington and Stanhope in Durham; and on my Mum’s side, the Hattons were boat people in Warrington, Lancashire (my home town).  I have Craskes and Cobbs from Norfolk; Landors from Worcestershire and Roughleys from Lancashire that also catch my eye whenever I see the name.

Do you have a favorite ancestor?

My ‘favourite’ ancestor is John Whitfield whose second wife was accused of murdering two of their children. The proceedings were covered in considerable detail in the newspapers, giving more insight into his life than I could ever have hoped to have discovered about a direct line relative born in the 1830s.

What is your toughest brick wall currently?

I have Irish relatives on my Mum’s side (Hannans) who probably came over from Roscommon to Manchester in the 1830s.  I had hoped that my Ancestry DNA test might open some doors, but I’m still waiting for a breakthrough.

(interview continues in comments)

WikiTree profile: Steven Whitfield
in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)

What brought you to WikiTree and why did you start getting involved?

I joined in June 2020 to download my Ancestry tree and to better record my research. Fortunately for me, Joan Whitaker from the England Project suggested at an early stage that I join the Orphan Trail team, which was a real eye-opener, introducing me to a range of resources I never knew existed and showing me how to record research findings in a systematic way.  Since then, I’ve particularly enjoyed participating in the ‘Thons’.

What do you spend the most time doing on WikiTree?

I need to work on the profiles of some of my ancestors; but keep getting distracted by other interesting challenges I come across. (Connect-a-Thons and tidying up profiles afterwards; sourcing and developing unsourced profiles that I stumble across; and more recently getting my head around the statistics and reports I come across.)

Which project are you most involved in?

A couple of weeks ago, I became team leader of the Lancashire team. I’ve being looking at various statistics and reports to try to figure out what they mean and to see how I can best make a positive impact.

What inspires you to contribute so much of yourself to WikiTree's mission?

I like the idea that we are all connected. Most people have a degree of interest in their roots; and documenting accessible, interesting information about the lives of people who have lived before us is a way of bringing us all closer together. 

What is your favorite feature or function on WikiTree?

Probably the Connection Finder – you see how most of us are already connected; and with so many profiles still to add, it is clear that the connections over time will shorten.

Also, I should mention Rob Pavey’s AGC app to convert a GEDcom into something intelligible; and his WikiTree Sourcer app has made citations and biography writing considerably easier.  I’m not sure I would have stuck with it were it not for these tools.

What feature or function would you most like to see added or improved?

I still find the search facility on the Help section difficult to navigate.  I go round in circles sometimes trying to find information or a process I know I have read about somewhere – but finding exactly where it is can be a torturous process.

Do you have any tips for someone who wants to get more involved in our community?

For English profiles, join the Orphan Trail and get the support of a group of people who are keen to enable you become a better genealogist.  (Other countries seem to have their equivalent teams, so sign up) …. and ask questions – virtually everyone I’ve had contact with in WikiTree wants to help and support.

What could we do to inspire more people to participate in our mission?

I’m always encouraged whenever I google someone’s name and the top entry is a WikiTree profile as a result of a well-written biography.  If we continue to add well-written profiles to the tree, I hope that people looking for information about their ancestors might be brought in to WikiTree, seeing the benefit of being part of an ongoing collaborative project.

6 Answers

+6 votes
Congratulations on being nominated as member of the week, Steven. It is nice to learn a little bit more about you.

Good luck with your new TL position.
by Dieter Lewerenz G2G Astronaut (2.0m points)
Thanks Dieter
+6 votes
Steven, thanks for your commitment to WikiTree and for sharing your thoughts about it.
by Stuart Awbrey G2G6 Mach 1 (19.7k points)
Thanks Stuart
+4 votes
Congratulations, Steven, and thank you for all you do for our tree.  As it happens, I just ran across a Lancashire family that came to Clifton Park, New York, in the 1870's.  I enjoyed your interview.  Thank you, Eowyn, for highlighting Steve's work.
by Mark Weinheimer G2G6 Pilot (765k points)
Thanks Mark
+5 votes

    Loved the interview, particularly your story of your favorite ancestor (I even went over and read his profile).  

    There is an old quote from Napoleon that, "Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever."  That doesn't appear to be true if you are a big enough rascal and rascals are fun to read about.

by Roger Stong G2G6 Pilot (492k points)
Thanks Roger

When I came across the murder, I was staggered that my great-grandfather (who gave evidence at his stepmother's murder trail) never spoke to my grandfather about it.  Victorian attitudes about this sort of thing, I suppose.

Thanks to Wikitree, it is now stored online for future generations to read about.

+4 votes
Great writeup Steven.  I'll be poking my "head" in and out of the Lancashire OPC site.  I have lots of ancestors skulking around there.
by Brad Cunningham G2G6 Mach 9 (99.1k points)
Thanks Brad.   The Lancashire Online Parish Clerk is a great resource.  Feel free to get in touch if you have any Lancashire-related questions.
+2 votes
Congratulations on being selected as member of the week Steven. I enjoyed your reading about how you came to this point. I wish you all the best on getting accustomed to your new knees. I can only imagine what it was like to discover the skeletons in your closet. Thank You for sharing with us Steve.

Thank you for another great interview Eowyn.
by Marty Franke G2G6 Pilot (271k points)
Thanks for your comments and good wishes Marty.

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