IMPORTANT: Re-categorize 1776 Project

+16 votes
Hello all WikiTreers with American Revolution ancestors,

I have started to re-categorize my ancestors according to the new method for the 1776 Project. Instructions are on and  

I think the easiest way to proceed, for me anyway because I have so many to change, I copied and pasted all the profiles that the EditBot edited and pasted them on a separate MS Word document.  The EditBot lists are mixed in with The Family Activity Feed on My Navigation Home Page.  I use MS Word because it makes a clickable link to the WikiTree profile.  

Then I click on and edit each profile to add the new categories.  For the vast majority, I am simply putting the state name in front of the American Revolution link because that is the most specific information I have for that person.  For Example:

{{1776| category =Pennsylvania, American Revolution}}

There are many other options and more should be prepared soon.  Your assistance in re-categorizing your ancestor profiles will be most appreciated.  Thank you!
WikiTree profile: Ethan Smith
in The Tree House by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (513k points)
Hi Kitty,

So the example is the basic concept of the new way?

That is an example of adding the 1776 Project and the Pennsylvania, Americam Revolution category to a profile.  Please see the 1776 Project for details.
As currently configured, the 1776 template will accept one "category=" parameter, as illustrated in Kitty's message. Is there any possibility of editing the template so it will accept two (or more?) category= parameters?

{{1776| category =Pennsylvania, American Revolution}} does two things.  It adds 1776 Project and [[Category: Pennsylvania, American Revolution]].  I don't know how it would work with two categories.

I tested the template, Kitty, so I know what it does.

The stand-alone form {{1776}} adds the 1776 template and puts the profile in Category:1776 Project.

The template has one optional parameter. To use the optional parameter, you can insert the vertical bar after the 1776 and enter "category = [Category name]", as in the example {{1776| category =Pennsylvania, American Revolution}}. That adds the 1776 template and puts the profile in Category: Pennsylvania, American Revolution instead of Category: 1776 Project.

A few WikiTree templates are programmed to allow for two optional parameters (and it's possible to program Wiki templates to allow for more two options), but this template is programmed for only one option. That means that any additional Revolutionary War categories have to be added separately (e.g., [[Category: American Revolution Militia Officers]]).

Thanks, Ellen.  That template was made a few years ago.

3 Answers

+3 votes
What a great idea! It will help me as I wade through the ancestor field looking for involvement. The map is also a great idea.

by Mary Teresa Galvin G2G3 (3.1k points)
+2 votes

The map of categories for military organizations is nicely structured, and I'd like to use it, but I'm finding myself feeling challenged by that structure, since my ancestors' service records don't seem to be nearly as cleanly structured as these categories are. In a nutshell, the problem I perceive is that not all Continental Army units had numbers -- and if is typical, the Wikipedia articles can't be counted upon to be complete.

After reading through a 24-page pension file and other records for one of my ancestors, I've determined that he had service in two different Connecticut units:

  1. A regiment that existed from May to December 1775, commanded by Col. Experience Storrs and/or Col. Israel Putnam, also known as the Third Regiment or the Third Continental Regulars. This appears to be Category: 3rd Connecticut Provincial Regiment (1775).
  2. '''Ward's Regiment''', commanded by Colonel Andrew Ward. Organized May 1776 and disbanded May 1777. This unit isn't mentioned in the Wikipedia Connecticut Line artilce, but it is listed in this Wikipedia list of Continental Army units in 1776 and it's under "Extra infantry units" in the Wikipedia List of Continental Army units (1777–84), but it apparently didn't have a number and it's not in the current list of WikiTree categories.

So this man served in one numbered unit, with a category, but the other unit he served in (ironically, the only one for which he was awarded a pension) lacks a number and a category. And this isn't unique; Ward's Regiment is just one of several regiments that appear in that list of "Extra infantry units" with a name, but without any associated number.

For now I'm just going to place this ancestor in Connecticut Line. I expect that we will be needing some additional categories, though.

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
I've had similar issues in Connecticut, with unit's named after officer's and not given numbers as far as I can tell.
Hi Ellen and Ann,  You can only add categories according to the information available.  If you don't have a specific number or name, you move to the next higher, less-specific category.  If someone else has more information they can change the category later.  In Ellen's example, I would code the two services as:

{{1776| category=3rd Connecticut Provincial Regiment (1775), Continental Army, American Revolution}}

[[Category: Continental Army, American Revolution]]

Kitty, I think you've overlooked some of the intricacies of the new structure. Since I know that Ward's Regiment was a Connecticut unit (and the pension records do identify it as "Line"), I believe that the most specific category that encompasses that unit is Category:Connecticut Line, American Revolution, not the non-state-specific Continental Army category.

It troubles me, though, that the names of that and other state "Line" category names don't include the words "Continental Army" (words that are in the categories for the individual regiments). I think the words "Continental Army" are needed because many of us descendants are unfamiliar with the "Line" terminology -- and it's going to be necessary to place some ancestors in the state "Line" categories. It also bothers me that the category structure for "Connecticut Line" has been restricted to numbered regiments that are mentioned in the rather pathetic Wikipedia article entitled "Connecticut Line" -- that's why I think WikiTree is going to need more categories.

+2 votes

I have another issue to be addressed before we get too far down the road with these categories. The militia categories, as currently configured at Category:Militia, American Revolution, do not always include the words "American Revolution," but they are subcategories of "American Revolution." This is a problem, because militias existed throughout the colonial period and beyond (recall that the critical role of local militias in subduing Shay's Rebellion is considered to be the reason why the 2nd Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights, referring to a "well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State"). For example, see this webpage about Albany city and County Militia. Unless a particular unit existed only during the Revolutionary War, any category intended to include only people who served during the war will need to have "American Revolution" in its name. That way, if there is a desire to categorize people who served in the same militia in some other time period, a broader category (not specific to this war) can exist for the militia unit.

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
edited by Ellen Smith
Background: I was about to create a category for an additional Albany County militia regiment, when it dawned on me that the regiment probably also existed before and after the Revolution.
the concept for military categories, whether classified as regular, state, militia, etc, is they exist in both peace and war/conflict times, and a person can be a member of both peace and wartime(s) categories.

it gets harder dealing with peacetime militia units because of the nature of what they were, so you end up adding things from muster rolls.

regular military units you get enlistment/discharge records

with the american revolution, you can have a person who was in a militia unit during the French and Indian war, the period between then and the revolution, a militia unit at the start of the revolution, then joining the continental army as part of the state line, with multiple regular army categories depending on how the enlistments worked for that state, with many reorganizations and periods of service defined, then regular or back to a militia unit after the end of the revolution
Well, it's not necessary to have enlistment and discharge records to document a man's participation in a militia. There are published membership lists, with dates, for some of the militias or militia units that my ancestors were part of at various times. And sometimes militias were engaged in skirmishes with Indians or other actions whose participants are documented. I don't think that a person who was listed in a militia in (say) 1715 ought to be in a militia category that has Category: American Revolution as a parent category.
Good point, Ellen.  I believe those 1715 ancestors would go in

Yes, and it also needs to be possible to categorize the men who were in the militia during the years after the Revolution. Some of the militia units had the same name before, during, and after the Revolution. I think that if the hypothetical Podunk County Militia existed from 1670 to 1820, Category: Podunk County Militia needs to be an umbrella parent category for the unit throughout its history, and the category for men who served in the unit in the Rev War era should be named Category: Podunk Unit Militia, American Revolution. That will allow for the future creation of categories like Category: Podunk County Militia, War of 1812  and Category: Podunk County Militia, King Philip's War, as well as the inclusion of men who are identified with the unit but not with its involvement in a particular war.

Hi Ellen, While I understand your concern, I am not a member of the categorization project, so this should probably be addressed to Keith who has more understanding of the ways and means of handling groups outside of the 1776 Project.  Right now, all the 1776 Project profiles are grouped together in one huge category: American Revolution.  I am just interested in breaking this huge group into smaller, more manageable and representative categories within the 1776 Project and the American Revolution major category.
ellen is correct in how she is stating the desired structure, except that the "peacetime" category is not the "parent" of the wartime categories, it is the default location for all time periods not defined a by conflict...    all the categories together define the unit, they just cover different slices of time.

Oh, dear -- you are reminding me of one of the main reasons why I have tried to stay away from the Categorization Project on WikiTree.

You see, I am now just short of my 20th anniversary as a volunteer dealing with categorization in various community projects on the Internet. That means that before I joined WikiTree I had been through myriad community discussions and analyses to create and refine logical category structures. I've been bewildered by the illogic I've often encountered at WikiTree regarding category structure (but your comments do help me understand some of the thinking here that I saw as illogical). Considering that I've been through this sort of thing several times before, I have formed strong opinions about what works best, and categories are less important for the purposes of genealogy than in other projects I've known, I decided that it was best for me not to get involved.

But now that I've gotten sucked in here, I'll say my piece.

In the wonderful hyperlinked world of the Internet, categorization is not constrained by the kind of linear organizational logic that we are familiar with from paper documents and business organizations. Specifically, a subcategory is not restricted to a single parent category. Instead, a category exists as a stand-alone entity, but an entity that is linked to multiple parents. This is wonderful because it means that a category structure can respond to the myriad ways that different people may think about the same information. To use a non-Revolutionary War example, there is absolutely no reason why Category:United States Army, World War II should not have both Category: United States Army and Category: United States of America, World War II as parent categories. For that matter, if WikiTree also had a category called Armies of the Allies, World War II (not suggesting that -- I don't see a reason for it), the United States Army, World War II category could have it as an additional parent category. A person should be able to drill down through the category structure from Category: United States Armed Forces down to the specific World War II unit their relative served in -- they shouldn't need to take a detour to find a different category structure for World War II.

the issue of multiple parents also introduces the issue if multiple paths, recursion, loops, etc.

we are trying to produce reports based on a starting point in the category tree.

from the initial category United States Army, World War II, that lists only profiles (ignore that we have further sub divisions for now), you are counted only 1 time

if the category has parents of United States Army, World War II and United States of America, World War II, assuming no other paths, starting at either of these categories, you are still only counted 1 time.

take it one step farther, what is the parent on these two categories?  for sake of argument, lets say both of them have United States Armed Forces as the sole parent.  if the report is generated from there, you are now counted twice, once from the path thru each parent.

now add to this a category for a battle in world war II.  the person fought in the battle, so add his profile to the battle.  the united states army fought in the battle, so add it to the battle.  now you get counted more times, once thru the path to the battle, once thru the path of the united states army to the battle.

When Ales first sent me a raw dump starting at Category: Military, i was seeing the same person listed 20 times or more with all the spaghetti paths that existed between the categories, with lots of close loops (parents are children of children categories) and more distant loops where the chain goes several levels before looping back to its starting point.

by changing the way categories are linked, which in some cases means listing the category as a reference instead of a child, you can still start at one point, drill down thru the tree to reach a base level, profile only category, and it reduce the report listings with all that duplication by more than 75%.  there are still some duplicate paths, but obvious things have been taken care of.
OK, so the deal is that you (and apparently many others) see the function of categories as principally being a tool for production of print reports that display linear hierarchies? I don't guess you have much need for 21st-century technology if that's the controlling philosophy.
Hi Keith and Ellen, though you both have good ideas, the final product needs to be understandable by the most elementary WikiTreer. The instructions are already written, and, I hope, clearly explained for all 1776 Project members. We have started sorting the profiles according to the written instructions, and will continue so on the 1776 Project.  Thank you both so much for your support during this important transition.  ;-)

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