How do you make sure you get a Pre-1500 badge?

+46 votes

By now many of you have heard or experienced that it is not easy to get a Pre-1500 badge, so, as the coordinator, I want to give you some tips on how to make sure you get the badge.

Take a look at

Here are the important things to keep in mind from that page.

As part of the certification process you will be asked to identify a pre-1700 or Project Protected Profile where you have made major contributions as a practical demonstration of your knowledge of sources and WikiTree style 

You will also be asked to provide information on your project participation and the name of a Project Leader who can confirm your participation as an advanced wiki genealogist.

Finally, if you have a lot of unsourced profiles on your watchlist, use your unsourced Pre-1700 profiles to help you practice how to source and document, that will help us reduce the number of unsourced profiles, and it will give you an opportunity to learn how to find and document sources on older profiles.

in The Tree House by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (712k points)
retagged by Robin Lee
Also....anyone directing someone to HOW to I get a Pre-1500 certification, please send them to

I find that a lot of people have never looked at this page before they apply for their badge, so they are "surprised" when they do not meet the requirements...

4 Answers

+16 votes
Best answer
Thank you for posting this Robin, these are useful tips and excellent advice. This will help me to more clearly answer people who ask me about pre-1500 certification.

It seems the only requirement to obtain the pre-1500 badge is to show that you know how and are willing to collaborate, source, and style those older profiles the WikiTree way.

We certainly want to put our best foot forward to the public and newer members... having important profiles correct and looking sharp is a big part of that.  Huge.

Showing that we understand sources from that time era, as well as how to apply WikiTree Style, can (only) be done through demonstration of the skills.  It makes sense that members who wish the badge are asked to reference some contributions to notable profiles near that age-range (1700 - 1501) and Projects that have allowed them to demonstrate the needed skills.

Having a high bar is what we want and need to continue our success, and I do not think we are being too hard on ourselves (the community sets the guidelines).

It feels like a good balance.

Have a super day!
by Keith Hathaway G2G6 Pilot (606k points)
selected by Kay Wilson
I also like how you point out...

We are not trying to stop each other from getting the badge, we are trying to HELP each other.

Great point!
I'm terribly grateful that we do set  high standards for pre-1500. It takes a lot more energy to straighten out a speculative "mess" on these early profiles and I'm loathe to link ancestors to profiles that seem inaccurate or screwy. IMHO.
+14 votes
I think wikitree is shooting it self in the foot. Because a lot of people had pre-1500 profiles and put a lot of work in it. And now they are locked out of their own profiles and the rest of managers don't care or don't have time to work on it. So there are now a lot of profiles that unsourced and incorrect and unmanaged. And pre-1500 that is without a manager should be deleted or put on a watchlist.  Because the older a profile is the more people are related to that person.
by Jeroen Mathijs Willem van Dijk G2G5 (5.9k points)
Wouldn't the best thing be  for YOU to become pre-1500 certified? Then you could edit the profiles you manage.
Yep, I have asked for it, but I just want to build trees and filling profiles. I don't have the time to be active in a project also.

And there is only a pre-1700 dutch project, but not a pre-1500 project. And the most pre-1500 experts are solists and superexperts.
The requirement is that you participate in A project.  Your Dutch Roots project should count, as long as you have been active.

The other requirement is that you make contributions to pre-1700 profiles.  If there are pre-1700 profiles you built (or contributed to) in your own tree that are well sourced, that should suffice.

I am also primarily interested in filling in my own tree, and there is currently  only one small branch that goes back before 1500.  Because of the lack of people with pre-1500 certification, I have ended up helping with some of the requested merges, and fixing errors.  But it is not my focus.  I am certainly not a "super-expert".

I just make sure that everything I do myself is well researched and documented/sourced.

I am sure that, if you ask, you will find that the changes needed to get your 1500 certification are relatively minor.
I've done all these things MONTHS ago and still no pre 1500 qualification.  It doesn't even show I've posted on G2G the number of times but I have a special badge to prove my points and contributions.

I do belong to Data Doctors and when I'm done the merge of my tree and my husband's tree and delete all the dups, I'll be helping more.   But other than working thru the DD projects.. I have compared merges.   AND helped with them.   

In general, I ask a question and get 3-5 answers that are totally unrelated to the question and my questions aren't always answered.   A dance card of non-information.   However, the last question I asked about the Dimmocks actually only took 3 answers.. and I thank the person who actually read the question and answered it.   I closed the question after his wonderful contribution.   

Maybe one day my contributions will be needed.   Then I'll make a decision..

+2 votes
I've used wikitree for about 5 years and I am pretty good at knowing the way the profiles are set up and I have made contributions but what you consider MAJOR contributions are NOT the ones I've made.    I think many of the things on wikitree are EXCELLENT but there are major errors in IMPORTANT figures that I have found and I get a simple "Fixed" reply and not one mention of a thank you.   

I'm not here for accolades and I'm sorry I don't meet your standards for pre 1500 badge but I have good first hand information that could be helpful... and HAS been helpful in the past but no one seems to care nor give me any credit of having contributed to this forum...

YES I've read and read and re read the requirements which is one of the reasons WHY I'm on this forum... that still has not been recognized and I have made 172 contributions.   HOW many do I need?  175?  180?

I sympathize with you folks who can not get the pre 1500 badge... I've been trying since I started posting here... 172 contributions ago.   I've joined some of the projects but just because I don't have anything to contribute doesn't mean I haven't got the name, time and temperature of the entire project.   I look and learn.  

I'll never be an expert but sometimes the non-experts are the ones who see the simplest mistakes.  I DID.
by Rebecca Snider G2G6 Mach 1 (13.9k points)
Just keep doing what you do best. I joined euroaristo when I was cut off from my pre1500 profiles, it was a poor fit. Although I have known a lot about these people for decades I have no sources for European aristos apart from a book on heraldry and Wikipedia. Got irritated as well by the naming conventions. So I abandoned my pre1500 profiles and got on with what I was capable of. Eventually I was "persuaded" to apply.
Thanks, C. Mackinnon... I managed without the "badge" before and can certainly manage without it now.   I adopted one profile because it links to our tree but I won't do anymore.   Not if it is a useless effort.   Time is too precious to me to quibble over something so minor.   There ARE other sources ... and they're free too.   

You're the BEST !!! and Thank you so much.

I have learned alot about how wikitree works from working through Data Doctor Suggestions each week, especially if you select ones for your state or country, to make the list smaller.  Review the explanation if you don't know why something is an error.  That helps to understand what type of errors they are trying to get correct.
Thanks Linda.. I do belong to them but I'm merging my tree with my husband's and this is taking FOREVER to remove the dups that BIL managed to inject (different names, etc).   

I will look into focusing on my state.. That should be more manageable for me.  

Great answer !!!  and GREATLY appreciated.  

+5 votes
Sadly, there are those who are working in pre-1700 that still do not abide by the Wikitree standards for sources.  Using unsourced family trees is one of them.

So... Where is the list of approved sources and the standard for sources?    I sure do need to know.  

In this era of "fad" genealogy sites, the copy/paste method is running rampant and everyone claims to be #1 in genealogy research which is a total lie.

The other day someone (on this site) suggested I don't use "personal" sites like Geni because it's owner entry copy/paste information...   Well... what is THIS site considered?    

The real historians on wikitree are doing a tremendous job of checking profiles, merging duplicates, eliminating bogus entries and questioning errors but who enters those profiles, dups, bogus entries, and errors in the first place??   Personal folks like me and everyone else.

By telling me that I need a source for my own immediate family is ridiculous.   Telling someone their family bible is not an approve source is ridiculous.  So WHERE is a list of "approved" sources?    And how is that approval determined?   

I've compared dozens of different and personal websites for a single person in our tree and end up with an "unapproved source" message.   My books, authored by family and ancestors, are enough approval for me.   I compare many and then ask more questions.. but telling me it's not acceptable is simply..not acceptable to me. 



Family trees with valid sources such as vital statistics--marriage, birth, death, family Bibles, wills, deeds, census records, works by bonafide authors.  Currently working on a profile that has the same name for about twenty people, e.g. John Smith who can be a brother, son, uncle with that family same name, John.  So to clarify which one married so and so and which one was a brother and who the one left over is--that is the question.  Geni has good info but have found errors in my family.  Just verify not dismiss.  Family trees because grandma said so may not be accurate.  In some cases one source does not suit all.


Here are some examples.  These are NOT exhaustive, they're just to give you an idea:


  • Unsourced family tree at home ("Grandma said")
  • Unsourced family tree on Ancestry
  • Unsourced family tree on FamilySearch
  • Unsourced family tree on Geni


  • Census records
  • Official civil records) births, marriages, deaths
  • Parish register entries (baptisms, marriages, burials)
  • Family Bible (as long as it is not the only source, because nobody else can see it)
  • Family documents
  • Online Parish Clerks (OPC) sites
  • Family History Society transcriptions (with a grain of salt)
  • Tax records
  • Land records
  • Electoral rolls


  • Wikipedia
  • Family Bible
  • all of the above in the first two sections

If your 'acceptable' source is behind a paywall (i.e. Ancestry) then it is OK - ish.  Much better to use it as a clue and find the exact same source on a free site (such as FamilySearch) so others can see it.

Ros, does Family Search give the exact same information as Ancestry? When I see it used as a source for baptisms it doesn't seem to name the parents, just names the baptised, the date and the place, yet the baptism is the major source for establishing parentage prior to the arrival of the Census. A family bible that you own can be photographed so everyone can see it. I doubt there'd be any copyright issues. Always be wary of family myths, surely we've all met them. We have bits of paper, some not even letters, written by Victorians demonstrating with family tree that my husband's family is directly descended from Admiral Lord Nelson and woe did betide me when I suggested to my father-in-law that it might not be true. It isn't. They're descended from Nelson's ggpa. Family stories are wonderful but they do need to be backed up with solid sources if our work is to have lasting value.
Yes, FS does give the parents in a baptism.  Not in the citation, but in the transcription.
Ros maybe this will be a dumb question but I would think "grandma" ok within for her parents, husband and even grandparents? (And important because many 20th century records are hard to access due to privacy laws.) Or more to the point I am saying word of mouth is the best source in SOME cases, so we need to be careful when writing rules. For that matter many well-researched scholarly articles in the end come down to a statement written in a visitation or will or legal case which effectively came from someone's grandma.
Exactly my point.    The old family bible, written in the hand of a family elder was the "law" for centuries.    Word of mouth WAS the source and the only source as many folks couldn't read much less write.     

Where do you think the "facts" came from that we have today ?   Ship lists have the most deplorable spelling of names.   Jo stands for Johann in many cases.. People writing for the ships would write what they THOUGHT they heard and many more reasons why records are wrong.

Names were transformed in many ways.    Conyers ended up as Conners and vice versa.  

So WHERE and how can we make rules that have so many variable?  

I can state today, what my grandmother told me as far as her given name but when you look at records they were recorded incorrectly.   Her name is written as Catherine Florence and her name was Florence Katherine.    So who is right ?    I think my grandmother knew her own name and she told me... so my records will reflect what she told me.   So where does the rules cover such instances?   

Hard fast rules set down today may have exceptions but 25, 50, or even 75 years from now.. all the sources will be wrong.   And my descendants will argue the point that they are right because "grandma told me" and they will have grandma's records and grandma's records will be right.

Like Andrew Lancaster says... We need to be very careful writing rules.  

Rebecca  (my given name is Jolyn Rebecca) … see how that plays in 50 years.  LOL

The answer is: we can't make rules.  That's one of the reasons why genealogy is so absorbing!  You take basic records and apply intelligence, education, common sense, and downright experience. You learn to read handwriting of several hundred years ago, and can recognise abbreviations the way they used to do them.

If all you have is "grandma says", then that's fine.  You apply your own intelligence, education, common sense and experience, and wonder - can I find other records to back up Grandma's knowledge?  If you watch a murder-mystery on TV, they don't find only one person who says "he did it".  They check with other people, and records, and apply their knowledge and experience.  So it is with genealogy.  You don't just take "grandma says" as your one and only source until you have looked and looked to find something to back her up.

And btw, my Grandma told me the date of her wedding.  (You'd think she would know - she was there, after all).  Then she showed me her marriage certificate, and quickly whipped it out of sight, and since I knew my uncle's birthdate, I realised she was pregnant when she went down the aisle, and she told me the wrong year! Or how about her aunties: Kathleen Maud and Maud Kathleen (twins)?  Or my father's Aunty Beatty who turned out to be Beatrice Laura? Or my great grandfather Samuel Murch Haywood, who is down as 'Murch' on one of the censuses, because his father is Samuel?

Fun, Fun, Fun! smiley

I would like to propose the following rule:

Be systematically sceptical with all sources of information.

Absolutely right... I love the part about using intelligence, education, common sense, and experience.    

I've seen (just yesterday) when someone in my tree was buried a year before he died.  Now we ALL know that's not possible.. or maybe that's what caused his death... but common sense tells us the dates are flipped.. right?  

A better thought is what Andrew said... or is it?   All these "rules" are as good as the person interpreting them.   The whole world knows how that works these days.   Adjust the wording in rules to fit the situation.   

Agree to disagree is the better answer.   But to berate someone or a website with strong words is uncalled for.    I don't and won't use because I have found too many mistakes but I won't call the site names other than a copy/paste repository which is the truth.   I also will never recommend it to anyone.   

And while wikitree is having some disputes over "rules".. this site is by FAR the best one out there for checking facts but they too are not always right.   

I applaud the people working so hard to "fix" problems.   Y'all are doing a fantastic job and I know that ALL the mistakes/dups can't be fixed all at once.  

Just please have more patience with facts from Grandma Jones or Grandpa Smith.    They ARE our history, not just our ancestors .

Sincerely, Rebecca

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