Could we have an option to add something like "died young" to a profile?

+19 votes

Quite a few merges are proposed incorrectly for families who have had several children of the same name. 

This naming pattern was especially common in families around 1600 to 1800. Some families gave two or three children the same name before one lived to adulthood. It gets especially hard to disentangle when birth dates are being (appropriately) estimated for adults, based on their ages at marriage, freemanship, etc.

One answer is to explain that someone had two siblings of the same name, and make sure the note appears in each of the three biographies, but that can easily be missed in the rush to complete a merge.

Compiled genealogies often contain the notation "died young" to indicate when an individual has died in infancy or childhood. Could we establish something similar, either technically or by making a policy decision? 

Perhaps we could add "deceased infant" as a nickname or suffix? Maybe a radio button could be clicked for a person who died in childhood? We could add 1, 2, 3, etc as a suffix, but that and the "deceased infant" idea go against using their conventions, not ours. Maybe "died young" is appropriate?

Any ideas?

in Policy and Style by Carole Partridge G2G6 Mach 7 (76.5k points)
In addition to explaining the multiple children in the biography, I like to mark the multiple siblings as "rejected matches" to help alert people (such as me, the next time I visit the profile) that they aren't the same. But a standard annotation like "died young" that shows up in the data fields would be a lot more visible, and therefore would be a nice improvement.

We have the same in Sweden that you give name to children after some old ancestor and if the child die the next child get the same name.

Alert people

I am a big fan that we use a Research Notes section explaining decision we have done when doing genealogy or problems so other understand.  Can't you add a section in the Research Notes explaining....

I agree with Magnus. Adding a suffix, nickname, etc., isn't globally understandable - it still feels like a private coding system that we've just publicly agreed to use. It seems that we have several tools already:

  • An estimated death date with the "uncertain" flag
  • The "no children" checkbox
  • The "had no spouse" button
  • A rejected match with siblings of the same name and any other profiles that may be confused
  • Biography notes, which can be emphasized
  • Comments on the profile
  • Family genealogy feed for our watchlist profiles
  • Mentor Intervention requests
  • yellow cards, red cards, and blocks for members who don't respond to mentoring and proceed with incorrect merges
If we're looking for more visual cues to stop people who merge without reading, i think we should instead look for process solutions. I'd rather we didn't clutter our profiles with bigger and brighter messages.

Clutter profiles

I agree I would like to see that we start with talk pages as Wikimedia

Merge reports

As Aleš has a draft of a merge report test it and give him some feedback how to do this report better....


I tested the report and I am feeling that cleaning GEDCOMs and understanding how to merge not good sourced profiles is WikiTree's dark side ;-) 

Example report

The DB_Error tools has reported Marriages to duplicated persons

  1. Cline-470 is married to Furr-121
  2. Cline-723 is married to Furr-121


I completely agree that the narrative section SHOULD be enough, but often it isn't. I also agree that we shouldn't add bright red caution signs in the narrative section, which can get pretty cluttered up as it is. That's why I'm asking for something in the data section. 

I understand the idea about avoiding special code words specific to WikiTree. Hopefully, adding a 1, 2, or 3 suffix or nickname would seem to fall more in the category of naming policy rather than code. See:

I like Jillaine's idea of using the birth date of the next child for the death date, and clicking the "before" radio button. I've noticed that in merges, the qualifiers don't show up on the merge screen. Maybe adding the qualifiers to the merge page would be one technical solution?

Maybe "died young" should be an acceptable entry in the date of death field?

I also like AL's category ideas.

BTW, I'm probably not alone in checking rejected matches for possible merges. Some members will begin adding a new profile, and when offered a possible match to an existing profile, they will click the box saying that their person is someone different. I think this also happens with rejected matches in GEDCOM imports.Then we end up with duplicates that are marked as rejected matches. 

I agree that adding a date of death is the best approach. As Jillaine mentions, if the date is not known it can be estimated as being before the birthdate of the sibling with the same name *if* we know that there was definitely a child death and subsequent reuse of the name for the next child. I don't want us to accept non-date info like "died young" in the date fields, but if we really feel that we need a way to identify child deaths I'd support a technical solution with new data fields or a visual cue calculated from existing data.

I like the idea of adding the before | after | uncertain qualifiers to the merge page! That seems essential to determine if, say, two profiles with death dates "before 1900" and "1862" are the same person.

You're right - checking rejected matches for accuracy is important, as many new members reject matches without doing the proper research first. Often it seems that even the briefest look should have shown that a duplicate was being created. It's frustrating! I think new members often add profiles before understanding how a global family tree works. It's good that they have knowledgeable members looking after things, and I agree we need better tools to decrease frustration and help us build a better tree together. Thanks for talking this through!
We should definitely be including the date qualifiers on the merge confirmation page. I'll make sure that's on the to-do list.
Thanks, Chris!

Could an additional radio button be added to the date of death that is labeled "Died Young?"

If so, could this trigger an automatic selection of "No Children" and "No Spouse?"

When I have a situation like this, I always try to remember to select the "No Children" checkbox and go into the Edit Spouse screen and select No Spouse so that when I come back later, those bits of information no longer show up on the profile page, and that's a visual cue for me that this person either died young or never married, etc.
The automatic selection of "no children" and "no spouse" would be very helpful.

I'd also like to be able to select "no spouse" from the edit profile page, instead of needing another couple of steps to click the box. I think some people probably don't know the box exists, because it isn't obvious.

7 Answers

+16 votes

I have many of such children in my own lineage. What I do when I don't know the death date of the earlier child of the same name is to enter into the death date the year the next child of that name was born, and then mark the death date as "before".  Then I be sure to include an explanation.
by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (921k points)
I have used the same system, but I have later found that families in some cases had two (or even more) children with the same name that lived to adulthood, so it can not be applied in all cases
I like the concept, but it should be used with caution.  I have similarly found situations with two children of the same name -- often arising from second marriages of two individuals with children of the same given name from a previous marriage; but also possible with adopted children.  It is a hazard of assuming all children living in the same home have the same surname.

It may not be evident to genealogists tracing a lineage back through time that multiple children of the same family were given the same first or middle name, and were known by their different name while living among that family, but as an adult living separately were known by the name shared with siblings.
Like Torben I have come across a few cases of children with the same name in the same family living to adulthood. It does happen.
Yes to all these responses. It's always important to challenge our assumptions, and also to understand historical and regional context.

What was the practice in the region we're researching, in the time frame? In Schwenningen, Germany between 1650 and 1850, there was rarely if ever a time when two children by the same two parents grew to adulthood with the same given name. But I only came to know this by extensive research into the parish records.
+3 votes
I think "DIED YOUNG" would be a great idea to organize between living and dead children with the same names. I have run into this confusion also, with families continuing to use the same name for a dead and living child. Maybe adding the death of child right after the child's  last name, in CAPS., MAY HELP. STILLBORN Would ALSO BE WORTH NOTING.
by Mary Alvarado G2G6 (6.6k points)
+6 votes

I'll put my vote here for using "inf." as a suffix for the reasons previously explained:


"inf." is what I personally use. It prevents people from thinking it is a duplicate and let's them know before clicking that it may not be the person they're looking for, such as in a query result. I stand by it. I think it's easily missed in the biography. I think I first saw them using it in the Cape project

Reusing the name of a deceased child was common in New Netherlands as the names given to children were tributes to other relatives yet the death rate could be pretty high at times.

As far as "their conventions", if you look through the burials and winding sheet purchases in New Netherlands, one can see that the children were often noted as "child of" (translated of course) so I don't think "inf." violates that.

by Carrie Quackenbush G2G6 Mach 8 (80.8k points)
I'm not thrilled with "inf" as an option, because I think it's misleading. In modern American English the word "infant" refers to a baby (often less than one year old), and many of the children who "died young" appear to have been a good bit older than that.
Yes but infans is Latin for infant, which I assume to be the universal language of genealogy. Perhaps it's Eurocentric but every culture I've done genealogy in has had Latin in the records at some point.

Uptil now I have put Infant in the suffix. I do not really know what WikiTree policy is on this one, we just have to make do.

I think infant is what more or less was decided at some point (don't know if it was in a G2G ?) to use, I'm using it as well and here Simon Jacobsen Cool it is added as suffix like this (infant)

If you were to survey Wikitree contributors, I predict that fewer than 5% would recognize that the suffix inf. might represent (for example) a child who died at age 6. Latin may be a universal language among traditional genealogists, but I've not often encountered the "inf" usage for this purpose in genealogical publications (in my experience "d.y." is more common), and many people who add and edit profiles in Wikitree have little exposure to traditional genealogy. The challenge is to find a way to communicate clearly to all of the possible audiences.

@ Carole says: Quite a few merges are proposed incorrectly for families who have had several children of the same name. 

To prevent duplicate looking children end up getting merged (or in a wrong merge proposal) and to make clear they are different with just one look at the family , (since it's mentioned some people maybe don't read profiles) adding ''infant'' or ''died young'' to the suffix field can help make it clear the children with the same names are not duplicates.  see: Jacob Barentsen Cool


Found a good example from my family of when things can get pretty crazy with repeated names and infant deaths: Take note of the two Johanna Matildas born in the same year and the three Johannas total. Without the ".inf" I might be clicking all day trying to find the right person. And these children are extremely important to the narrative as their existence shows how bad things were and why the family might have migrated.

I would totally be okay with using "infant" instead though; I just thought that inf. might be more universal due to Latin.
To be clear, usage of "infant" or anything else hasn't been accepted as the official style. This is exactly the sort of standard that needs to be discussed and agreed upon before being widely used, so thank you to everyone participating in this discussion now.

Again, to be clear, right now using "infant" or something similar is not recommend. As Karen noted, it qualifies as a personal coding system and is specifically recommended against:
I was aware of that rule but took it to mean that, for example, stars couldn't be used in the suffix field to mark one's own line to an individual, or EOL for the end of what is known for a line.

This isn't personal and could be universal (at least in cultures where children's names are reused). I thought it was quite clever when I first saw it, and it struck me as a tactful solution.
I agree that it could be a universal style, Carrie, and it's worth discussing whether it should be adopted as the official style. I just wanted to make clear that it has not been.

I feel bad when members see something like this used, as you have, and perhaps even see this discussion and take it to mean that the usage is endorsed. Then they get very upset, understandably, if the community later makes clear that it should not be done and starts editing open profiles that use it.

I of course understand this as well, I think it was discussed somewhere though or maybe it was mentioned in posts, while we were working on these families, anyway I started using this also because it looked like a pretty clever way/solution, just like Carrie and others I guess. So a field and something universal we all can agree on of course would be better and great . 

For profiles that have patronymics and names repeated over and over for many generations and families with a lot of children and a lot of children that didn't survive infancy or childhood, it is very helpful if, like in the example Carrie showed, you in one look at the family can see if children are duplicates or not, otherwise it often means you have to click around a lot and sometimes keep checking and clicking to prevent maybe making a mistake. (because of the repeated names mistakes are made very easy.)  

And this also was why Carole started this G2G ? : Quite a few merges are proposed incorrectly for families who have had several children of the same name. 

And noticed people wondering about why people named the children after children that passed away so to explain it a bit more. If the Dutch naming system was used this would mean, if for example the first son, named after his grandfather died in infancy, the next son probably would again be named after the same grandfather. 

So the children were not named after the sibling that passed away, people just made sure the grandparents were honored by naming their children after them and their names would be passed on for many many generations. It really worked well, in my family some members still have the exact same name(s) our ancestors had so many (hundreds) years ago, although sometimes I have been wondering why on earth someone would give three or more children this name over and over again after loosing all previous children with this name as well of course.....


I first saw it being used in the New Netherlands Project and just presumed it to be general practice. This was already about two years ago. It is practical. Having professions or ranks in the prefix field or aristocratic indications in the suffix field, makes less sense.

It would be great if WikiTree could learn to listen more [attentively] to and adapt [quicker] good practices, instead of as happens frequently try to enforce top down certain standards without completely realizing the impact of it in projects.

Form should follow function not the other way around.
Philip, we do let members experiment and, most of the time, wait for standards to emerge organically. The problem with this is that inevitably alternative systems start to conflict and one solution needs to be agreed upon. Then the members who were using different standards get upset.
Understood. This is also the great thing about  WikiTree for me. Perhaps the "alternative systems" could be regarded more as "different paradigms" in the sense of from which perspective and with what set of skills - basic and advanced such such as the ability to create a database of errors feature - people contribute to WikiTree (energy = time) ; when that "one" solution can incorporate others systems and solutions as well. I'm all in for adapting but not when my goals (for example in this project with a as good timed workflow as is possible at this time) for creating stable validated genealogical lines in a collaborative fashion so that my own personal genealogy can eventually makes sense and I can start on the nitty gritty of learning the DNA side of genealogy, are getting compromised by what I call the "frilly" issues. I get grumbly. But then granted, I too have to bind in a times, only some stuff is on a macro scale (processes surrounding tens of thousands of profiles) and some stuff is on the micro scale. And some solutions for the micro stuff is truly counterproductive for the macro stuff. And vice versa.
+8 votes
I've encountered quite a few profiles like this working as a Sourcerer. If I can find no source for the death of the earlier child, I add "died young" to the biography. And, like others, I've found families with several living children with the same first name, but different middle names.
by Bob Keniston G2G6 Pilot (267k points)
+5 votes
Perhaps we might create a category for children who died before a certain age.  Presumably the category would identify individuals for whom there would be no descendants.  As such, it would be important to specify an age of death for which the category could be assumed to apply to children; but the category (or a similar one) might also be useful for individuals known to have died without marrying or creating children.

I wonder if such categories might be tied to our profile creation template to prevent linking children to profiles so categorized.  If so, it would tend to prevent accidentally selecting the wrong profile; but removal of the category would be possible to correct situations where the category was applied in error.
by AL Wellman G2G6 (9.8k points)

I think a category doesn't really help, the suffix (infant) or infant makes it clear immediately, so also if people don't read the profile (Bio) see : Jacob Barentsen Cool If you look at the children, now it's immediately clear the children, that otherwise would look like ''duplicate'' children, are no duplicates. 

Would you propose the use the same (infant) suffix on an unmarried daughter who died at age 15?

No infant doesn't seem to be the best choice for a child age 15 , ''died young'' than of course would be a better option, the infant as far as I know is only used for babies/very young children now.

But to prevent and make  it clear for everyone and because we now have no field or other way for this, maybe one of both can be used to make sure everyone in just one look can see if children are duplicates or not. ;)

Hi Al

Please see Category: Infant Mortality for profiles of those that died between birth and exactly 1 year of age, and Category: Child Mortality for older children.

Sorry do not have time to add yet another category to a profile (or rather the other way around). There should be space in the main fields of profiles so that it would be glaringly clear that it was an infant or child that's died. Died young - reverting to the bio's haven't been such a problem until now but infant mortality is definitely a merge problem that categorization does not solve. Because of the immense amount of infant deaths in the past.

+6 votes
PLEASE add this category.  I have 3 families where a child dies in 14 months or at birth, then the family gave the same name to another kid.

For example, the first Lydia Tisdale died, so another girl was named Lydia.

Creepy or what?  Well, it was a tradition.
by Janine Barber G2G6 Pilot (235k points)
It's interesting how what seems normal and what seems strange changes over the years, isn't it? Perhaps some cultures think of the poor child who has to grow up knowing that his or her name was reused after a sibling died. But then I can't imagine being a grandmother and saying, "Well, I did have a granddaughter named for me, but she died." Death is just hard no matter what your tradition, especially when children are involved.
Thank you for helping me "re-frame" this concept.
It led to a neat conversation at our house. I'm glad we're talking about it! I have to remember to voice how much I enjoy collaborating with everyone when I'm running around sharing my (sometimes stubborn) opinions.

Hi Janine

We have Category: Infant Mortality, for profiles of those that died between birth and exactly 1 year of age - this is the UN definition of infant mortality, and Category: Child Mortality for older children.

Thank you for both comments.  Genealogy AND collaboration is shedding some light on these "dusty" records.
Thanks, Maryann!
+8 votes
We have warning boxes such as those for Parents in dispute.

Perhaps a box, badge, template that could be added to the profile?
by Michael Stills G2G6 Pilot (532k points)

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