How do I use a lenghty family geneaolgy prepared by unknown party?

+10 votes
Brand new to this, and any genealogy site.  I have a document prepared in the late 1960's listing specific genealogy info for several hundred of the descendants of Jacob and Charlotta Allen (mid 1800's) family, which was prepared by an unknown Allen family member, and came to me from my deceased grandmother in the early 1980's.  From the info I have been able to check, it looks quite accurate, (dob's, dod's, dates of marriage, etc) but it cites no sources.

I have researched about two dozen of these people on Wikitree so far, and not found any listings, so I expect that there are a couple of hundred unlisted people listed with dates of birth, death, spouses and siblings, etc..  I have found corroborating info on for most of the individuals that I checked so far.

My questions are whether, based on this list, I should make up profiles for those shown as already deceased (as of late '60's), and if so, how should I cite to document in my possession as source.  I could also try to find corroboration info for each before making entries, but that could take a great deal of time.  I would be happy to show the document to trusted members, but I don't want to publish the document since it contains dates and names of many living people who I don't want to compromise, even in a trusted data base.

Thanks for any insight.

in Policy and Style by Richard Dykstra G2G Crew (450 points)
Credit where it's due, though in this case you'll have to credit Unknown Author.

I'd make a free space page describing the document.

Then link to the free space page from the profiles.

Ideally, since it's unpublished, you'd quote verbatim extracts, but there could be a copyright issue.

Also look for censuses and other primary sources.

4 Answers

+5 votes
I would add the profiles and cite the document you have as a source. Down the road, you or someone else might be able to add more sources later.
+4 votes


I have several descendants reports which I've used as sources throughout my profiles, so I took a stab at writing a citation for yours.

Unknown author, ''Descendants of Jacob and Charlotta Allen (mid 1800's) family'', mid 1960, inherited from [[GrandmothersSurname-###|Grandmother's name]], year you inherited; Allen Family Files. [[Dykstra-162|Richard Dykstra]]. Note: While the author of this report is unknown and no sources were included, data has been found to be accurate where verified.

What I would have done, if I'd been smart and not imported a gedcom, is follow my direct line working from a copy, not the original.

  1. Input the closest connection.
  2. Since that person is important to me, take the time to look up the additional sources and include them.
  3. When the source I'm working with includes the names of other persons from the report, add those profiles at that time.
  4. Cite the good source for the specifics that come from it.
  5. If any of those pieces of data were also on the report, cite the report too. (See the email citation to the birth date in Arthur Campbell's profile for an example of how I handle this)
  6. If any of the sourced pieces of data conflict with the report, add the conflicting data and an explanation. (See the email citation to the birth location in Arthur Campbell's profile for an example of how I handle this)
  7. Flesh out the profile with any other data from the report and use the report as the source for those pieces of data.
  8. Make a check mark on the copy as each person is added.

Once the direct line is finished, two things are accomplished:

  1. The most important people, my direct line, are added with verified sources
  2. Others have the ability to judge the accuracy of the descendants report.

At that point, I would probably have added the people without check marks. Knowing myself, I would have probably looked for a census record to add at least one verifiable source. The nice thing about a census record is that it usually has multiple people on it, thus allowing several people to be added at the same time.

By the way, thanks for the mental exercise. If you look at the example, notice that I revised it as I was typing this. That's because on re-reading how I had cited my sources, I didn't feel it was as clear as it should have been. Every profile, always a work in progress. Love it.

by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (343k points)
Wonderful answer, Debi! Thank you.
+3 votes

I have just started a similar project. I created a Free-Space page for the document here: Book of Remembrance This page has a "What Links Here" so you can see how the Free-Space page is used in a profile.

This document is very large and includes living people. I will not be adding in the living people. It also includes many photographs. I don't have the original photos, but I am scanning them from this document and adding them to WikiTree.

by Rick Pierpont G2G6 Pilot (119k points)
This would be an excellent way of handling a little booklet that was filled out by one of our grandmothers.  The booklet, "A Gift of Memories from Grandma" (Sunshine Art Studios, 1982) is a blank book full of prompts. The responses don't make a lot of sense without the printed prompt but I'm concerned about copyright issues with including the prompts.

Does your "Book of Remembrance" have anything like that? If so, have you figured out how to stay within copyright fair use guidelines?
Debi, My goal is to simply enter the information into WikiTree, using the Free-Space page as the source. The Free-Space page will not contain the entire book, just information about the book.

The "Book of Remembrance" uses almost 100 pages of these forms/prompts. They are copyrighted by The Genealogical Society of Utah (1936) and some are copyrighted by The Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1972). I am not going to copy or scan any of these forms. I am only going to enter into WikiTree the handwritten information on these forms. The handwritten information only contains simple facts: names, dates, locations, and relationships. It does not contain any copyrighted material such as stories, descriptions, or explanations.

The "Book of Remembrance" also contains many photocopied pages of source books. For these, I will add the source information: title, author, publication info, page #. Some of these sources are available for free online, so I can also add a direct link. This should avoid any copyright issues.
Some of the responses our grandmother gave won't make any sense without the wording of the prompts. Hmmm ... I'm going to have to think about this.

Thanks for the information about your "Book of Remembrance." I've never seen one like what you describe. It sounds like a great resource.
+1 vote
Hi Richard.  FWIW, I also began with a pile of old family notes, all unsourced, dating back to the 1920s.  I found most of that info to be quite accurate, and it turns out that you can find sources to support a lot of it if you spend the time looking.  So I agree with the other respondents, don't hesitate to use the data.

Because of that material I also got interested in working "backward", and started to compile some descendants charts for branches of the family.  They show all the descendants of several sets of great-grandparents, including living people and dozens of those cousins I never knew I had.  After some hesitation and waffling, I put this data up on the site in several Private (Red) free-space pages, and invited interested family members to request them, either via trusted list or outside WikiTree channels.  I had hoped to find interested relatives who could either confirm or add to the data I already had.  I did get some interest and response, although not as much as I would have anticipated.  But anyway, the data is still here for posterity, and perhaps someone will decide to run with it sooner or later.
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (472k points)

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