Interest in simply archiving family biographies from book references?

+10 votes
107 views

Considering creating a project to simply archive some biographies from book references into wikitree profiles.  Been doing this myself, but realizing I'm still on the one of the volumes of the 1st  (of many) sets of books that I've wanted to archive , and only on page 202 out of 724 of that volume, and I've been doing this for months.  Realizing it is going to be very slow on my own.  I'm focusing on Western Pennsylvania, but I can see moving further out from there.  These aren't necessarily relatives, although I've found some relatives doing this.  Once I hit brick walls in my lines, I figure just simply expanding the main world tree will eventually fill in all the details in my tree as well.

For example, here is the reference I am working with now:

Genealogical and personal history of western Pennsylvania (link goes to archive.org)

Example profile completed: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/McMurray-655

 

WikiTree profile: Ulysses McMurray
asked in The Tree House by Anonymous Nagel G2G6 (7k points)
recategorized by Ellen Smith
Just FYI: I fixed the link you had trouble with.

3 Answers

+3 votes
 
Best answer
Ryan,

I tend to do what you do; when I find a family that turns out not to be related to me, I fill in the "world family tree." I think this is a great idea to do; there are so many of these biographical compilations out there. Not all of them are completely accurate, but they are a great place to start. I just added a link to the 1870 census to your sample profile (please check to see if I did it the way you prefer it done.)

I would be interested in the future in contributing to this; I can't do it right now, though! Please put me on your list as interested.
answered by Alexandra Florimonte G2G6 Mach 1 (13.6k points)
selected by Anonymous Nagel
Thank you Alexandra!  You are the only one who actually answered the question.  My question/request was not:

Do you think these sources are 100% accurate?

or

Please critique my profiles!

...and that is what the other 2 replies focused on.  Although I appreciate the information, those are separate discussions.   Agreed, that having 2 confirming sources (or more) is always the best way to go.

As a result of being the only one that answered the question, I'll give you the best answer star and keep you in the loop when I start the project.
+3 votes

I confess to having mixed feelings about what you are doing. On the one hand, you are adding people (and their families) to WikiTree, and these profiles are better documented than an enormous number of profiles we have here. On the other hand, the book(s) you are using are not high-quality sources for genealogy. They are derivative sources (see https://www.wikitree.com/blog/original-vs-derivative-sources/ for a discussion of what this means) that don't indicate where the information came from. I think the reality is that books like this one were created from information submitted by the living (or recently deceased) people who are profiled. The biographies of those people are probably good (although they may have embellished details or edited out embarrassing information), and the information about their parents, siblings, etc., is also probably mostly good, but as they go back farther it becomes family mythology. If you add these biographies to WikiTree, I suggest that you focus on the biographies that are reasonably well documented -- for example, for the Inskeep Family on pages 666-667, I would not create profiles for John Inskeep and Miss Myers (generation one) because the vague biographical info looks like mythology. And in general, do try to clearly indicate that the content is verbatim from the cited source.

A couple of comments on mechanics:

  • Source pages like https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Genealogical_and_Personal_History_of_Western_Pennsylvania can be cited in profiles to provide a permanent reference. Pages like that one benefit from inclusion descriptions of the origins and content of the book. If you've been delving into a book, you're a good candidate to add a description to the Source page.
  • Please include volume number and page number(s) when you cite a book like this -- particularly when (as is the case of this book) the contents aren't alphabetical. Searching for a name can be tedious... I usually like to include a convenience-link URL for the page(s) I'm citing. For example, on a WikiTree profile the string [https://archive.org/stream/genealogicalpers02injord#page/684/mode/2up/ page 684] will generate a link that displays as page 684 and points to the first page of the McMurray section of this book. 
answered by Ellen Smith G2G6 Pilot (878k points)
I appreciate the reply, and agree that some improvements can be made in the way that I present the profiles (source pages, page numbers, blockquotes, etc.), as many profiles on here can probably use improvements (like 99.9999%) in terms of both form and accuracy.  The problem I am running into is lack of time and being a 1 man profile generating machine related to this effort, and hence, why a project with multiple people involved may make it more feasible.  My question though is not if my profiles are well done or not (separate discussion), but there is anyinterest in a project related to this?  Agreed upon rules can be made on consensus by members of the project on how profile are created, blockquotes, sourcing, etc.  If no interest in this, that is ok, just wanted to throw out the invite.
I recently started adding in profiles from an Eastern PA genealogy book. Like you, I feel that if I can fill in the "who's who" of an area, it might help show some previously hidden connections and help fill in some gaps. I also find it a useful way to "study" the local area and its people as I read and create the profiles. I'm starting with the profiles that my ancestors had known connections to and going from there...not just going page by page.
This is the source I'm working on:

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:History_of_Scranton_and_Its_People

Like others have noted, you should create a space for the source if you haven't already-- it looks like there is one for the source you're talking about (linked to by Ellen Smith). When you add a link to that space on each profile, it will put them into a list that makes it easy to keep track of whose profile you've added etc.
I'm doing a project with entering all the biography subjects in T. J. C. Williams's *History of Frederick County, Maryland*, plus family members as I have time, with the goal of connecting them to the main tree. While Williams is a source and category on all these profiles, I don't use him as the only source; I find as many other sources on Family Search as I can -- at the very least, I can find census records for 1910 or 1900. The biographies in Williams are generally reliable, especially for contemporary relatives, but there's occasional typos and other errors, and I've learned to be cautious about ancestral lines before 1800 unless I have other sources supporting them.

I'm also not adding the Williams biography text to the profiles at this time. Most of them are long enough to be cumbersome, and I'm more interested in spending my time on finding further sources than on copying over the text.
+4 votes
Personally I enjoy perusing these derivative sources very much and would like to see more profiles WikiTree-ifying the info in them to make them more accessible to amateur genealogists.

To me, the likelihood that details/gossip about ancestors were probably provided by people who knew them adds to their value as sources.  Whether or not the information is strictly true or reflects the personal biases of the informants, the profiles provide a more colorful window into the lives of our ancestors and their communities.  And while the earliest ancestors in these genealogies are likely to be legendary, the belief that an ancestor was a great-grandchild of a notable settler ancestor may offer clues as to what more reliable evidence should be available, if the legend is true.

Ellen made some excellent suggestions about how to render those biases more visible and how to make a source's accuracy easier to assess.   Using <blockquote> and </blockquote> tags or quotation marks is one way to set apart the information being duplicated.  I would definitely create a Space for the source where details about the author's biases and errors can be compiled.  Here's one I made for one of my favorite book sources:

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Annals_of_Tazewell_County

And here is a profile of an ancestor whose biographical profile in that book source is supported by public records:

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Gillespie-666
answered by E. Compton G2G6 Pilot (112k points)
There's already a Source page for the book that Ryan asked about. It's https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Genealogical_and_Personal_History_of_Western_Pennsylvania

I appreciate the reply, and agree that some improvements can be made in the way that I present the profiles (source pages, page numbers, blockquotes, etc.), as many profiles on here can probably use improvements (like 99.9999%) in terms of both form and accuracy.  The problem I am running into is lack of time and being a 1 man profile generating machine related to this effort, and hence, why a project with multiple people involved may make it more feasible.  My question though is not if my profiles are well done or not (separate discussion), but is there any interest in a project related to this?  Agreed upon rules can be made on consensus by members of the project on how profile are created, blockquotes, sourcing, etc.  If no interest in this, that is ok, just wanted to throw out the invite.

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