If data on children and spouses is included in the profile data, why is this repeated in long unreadable lists?

+9 votes
As I approach this post-merge cleanup, I'm having trouble understanding why all of the information in the profile is repeated in list fashion in the biography, and in such an unreadable format. I understand adding sources for events, but shouldn't biographies be narratives?
WikiTree profile: Ephraim Rucker
in Policy and Style by Anonymous W G2G6 Mach 6 (65.3k points)

I frequently add a 'simple' numbered list of known children (by spouse) to each parents profile as a starting point for further research or for others who might be trying to decide if two profiles should be connected. I try to keep it basic: forename, year of birth, year(s) of marriage and spouse name(s), year of death. These lists often help to focus which records/dates I will be looking at for any omitted children and serves as a sort of 'double-check' that a family is complete.

When I go back to add the children's profiles I generally leave the list on the parent's profile. Here's an example where I just added the children yesterday - and if you look at the children's profiles you will see I have listed their known children as a 'breadcrumb' for working on the next generation.

I think I'm starting to understand the importance of spelling it out and helping others have enough info to draw conclusions.
that said, the profile you link to could list them better. I typically use a format like this:

# First child
# Second child
# Third child

The # sign creates a numbered list.
And the list format in the narrative permits you to add a source for either the list as a whole, or for each child, because there are so many persons in the earlier years where the number and names of children is in dispute.

The data field would allow me to easily add myself as a child of Queen Elizabeth;  it's the narrative with sources where one has to cite the proof for such an assertion.

2 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
Hi Sandi,

Most of what is in that profile is gedcom junk that needs to be cleaned up and organized.  That said, I think there is good reason to list children in the biography.  Genealogy is fundamentally the study of family groups and their relationships.  The most important being who are the children of who.  By putting the children in the biography, it allows you to get a more complete picture of the family. Who was born when, where were they living, where did they move to, etc.

It also allows you to source the children.  Just like all dates, children should be sourced – how do you know Agnus Rucker was a daughter Peter Rucker?  Why are there two Agnus Ruckers on that page?  Did they name two daughters Agnus?  Such problems are easier to clarify on the parent’s page.  There are so many errors of children being attached to wrong parents – these errors are often more apparent when the children are listed together in one place.

It also gives you a place to put children for whom there is no profile.  The list gives them 7 children, while the profiles only have 4.  Without the list, the picture of the family group is incomplete.

Personally, I think every profile should have a separate === Birth === section (so it can be sourced), a separate === Marriage and children === section (so it can be sourced), and a separate === Death === section (so it can be sourced).  After that a narrative biography is nice, but not as important as proving the relationships in each generation.

Sometimes notes on children are very important for understanding the parents, and need to be on the parents page.  The list of children often is the most organized way of doing this.

Obviously, the page needs to be cleaned up but I think there are many ways to make a list of children look good, provide valuable information, and help tie the family group together.
by Joe Cochoit G2G6 Pilot (207k points)
selected by Anonymous W
Hi Joe, Thanks for the feedback. I'll see what I can do to integrate what I'm calling "lists" into a narrative. I appreciate what you've added about tying the family group together!
+7 votes
Hi Sandi,

You're right that bios should be narratives. Sometimes lists make sense, but often they're just unedited data from a GEDCOM import. The GEDCOM import software can't write narratives. Only members like you can. :-)

by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
I've eliminated a list of children before, only to have someone put it back. Maybe others have reasons for this.
There are 7 children in the list, there are only 3 children with profiles. (possibly 4 but one looks like a possible duplicate )  Leaving the children out of the biography would be misleading . There are though many times when  I know children exis (from censuses, or baptismal records) but  haven't researched those  siblings so may either  not be able to create an accurate profile or pragmatically may not want to at the moment.

   If I'm not going to pursue the other children I would like to show that they exist. For many women who spent 20+ years child bearing and then died it is the only record other than their own birth and burial that we have of them.

Having said that, I'm not consistent . If I can complete a biography then the children come as part of the narrative ' Elizabeth gave birth to fifteen more children of whom 12 were still living at the time of the 1911 census' If not they come in a list.
Excellent point on honoring the women who bore these many children.
I'm still a relative newbie, but even so my working style has evolved. Now I tend to note the number of children, but only refer to them by name if there is a particular connection - mentioned in a will, shared an occupation, etc. The exception is when the children are only known by combining multiple sources; then I include a table indicating which source(s) apply to each child.

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