Have you every gone overboard when adding a source to someone else's ancestor profile?

+29 votes

Disclaimer up front: this is a "toot your own horn" thread.

If you've ever fixed someone else's unsourced profile, do you sometimes decide to add a bit more than just the one needed source?  Have you ever done a full profile makeover like when they go and fix someone's house when they aren't watching?  If so, post a link to the profile here and share your profile makeover!

In my own case, I was sourcing unsourced profiles for the May Sourcerers' challenge and I came across a profile and had occasion to chat a bit with the PM.  He gave me access to some of his ancestors so that I could add a source to each and on one I just decided to "keep going."  I added a few sources, then a few more, and then I just made a complete profile makeover:

It went from this:

This profile lacks source information. Please add sources that support the facts. 

William was born about 1895. William was the child of Joseph Rabbach and Jennie Weiss. William passed away about 1966.

to this:


So, if you've ever gone OCD on a profile, share it here ;-)

in The Tree House by SJ Baty G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Nice job on William Rabbach SJ!
Such a complete profile for William Rabbach. Good comment in the Research Notes section of William's profile. Indeed Census information can vary so much, your description of how it must have happened brings the situation to life.

Well done, SJ. Quick tip, you can shorten those Ancestry links to a more manageable length:




will produce the same result. The second link is to the source only; the rest of the stuff is related to the search that was performed to find the source.

just cut off the rest starting at &tid  ?

I've answered my own question: I deleted everything after the (page or file) number (usually the long 9 digit number) and the links all work fine and look much, much cleaner.  Thanks for the tip!
Excellent and you are welcome. One more thing that I would do is add a line break before the "Local file:" reference. To do that, add <br> right before Local. Of course, that is me being OCD so feel free to ignore.
I agree, it does look cleaner ;-)
Why is William Rabbach not open to the public?
Because he died less than 70 years ago would be my guess.
living descendants like children or grandchildren usually stops it from being open.
Really, I thought the rules had changed. I guess I will  have to go back and read them. I think that someone commented on one of mine that I had to open it.  Thanks Danielle and Melanie.

The Help: Privacy page says:

Profiles of people born over 150 years ago or who died over 100 years ago must be Open.

Thank you Melanie Paul.  I went back and read the new rules last night. laugh

There is now an even easier way to reference an Ancestry.com source. For the one mentioned by Debi Hoag [ https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=7884&h=100904106] the even simpler way would be

{{Ancestry Record|7884|100904106}} - the first number is the "dbid" number; the second number is the "h" number.
Whenever I use this type of source, especially if it's behind a paywall like many ancestry.com records, I'll usually also add this to the Biography section:

1910 United States Federal Census
Name: William Rabbach
Age in 1910: 13
Birth Year: abt 1897
[abt 1892] 
Birthplace: New York
Home in 1910: Manhattan Ward 17, New York, New York
Street: East 10th Street
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Son
Marital status: Single
Father's name: Joseph Rabbach
Father's Birthplace: Austria
Mother's name: Jennie Rabbach
Mother's Birthplace: Hungary
Native Tongue: English
Occupation: Plater
Industry: Gold Factory
Employer, Employee or Other: Wage Earner
Attended School: No
Able to Read: Yes
Able to Write: Yes
Out of Work: N
Number of weeks out of work: 0
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
Joseph Rabbach 42
Jennie Rabbach 40
William Rabbach 13
Esther Rabbach 10
Ida Rabbach 8
Moses Rabbach 6

By adding this, it gives some additional information to others that may not have access to the source itself, and it also indicates exactly what data points that particular source is for.

28 Answers

+24 votes
I do it all the time.  I wouldn't know where to begin to get you any profile id's though.  If the sources are readily available, I will add them.
by Karen Lorenz G2G6 Pilot (136k points)
+24 votes
Been there....and then I find a census record, or will or some other great information, and suddenly I am adding siblings, grandparents and other people to the one little profile that just needed a source for the birth.....
by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (887k points)

Category:Needs Profiles Created is for situations like that.

@ Steven Tibbetts ..Thank you for this reminder.  I knew something like it existed, but couldn't find it.

(I do admit to creating profiles to fill gaps when I'm adding sources, but there are times (such as today) when I just don't feel up to it (foreign searches scare me).  I always, so it seems, add the babies, though.)

+21 votes
I try and add just 1 or two sources, although if there is a census record, then maybe I will add siblings as well. That would certainly happen if the profile is not yet connected to the global tree.
by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
+16 votes
Occasionally I will take the time to craft a biography. Much of the time I’m working from the iPad which is not conducive to generating prose.

Once I’ve found a source, I try to find all the pertinent sources that I can for the profile, including BMD and with luck census throughout their life. Oh yes also children’s BMD. Sometimes I will work on the entire family.
by Kay Knight G2G6 Pilot (622k points)
+15 votes
I've done it for a lot of profiles. My main focus was Saint-Barthélemy profiles and their family that moved to the US Virgin Islands. I had the sources and they needed them so why not right?
by Lynnette LaPlace G2G6 Mach 2 (24.8k points)
+12 votes
Hmm, now there's probably a list a yard long on such that I have done, so won't even try to tag any.  Since I have access to multiple high-quality sources for the New France era, when I start on a profile I tend to do BMD, census, notarial acts, any litigation that made it to sovereign council........   Well, then I look at the spouse and fill in that one, and the children, sometimes even extending to the granchildren if I come across things like marriage contract data... :D  This is way more fun than any detective novel.
by Danielle Liard G2G6 Pilot (701k points)
+13 votes

All the time - my most recent one: Gawkrodger-1 although I didn't get time to add all the census I wanted to.



by Michelle Wilkes G2G6 Pilot (176k points)
very nice!
+16 votes
I am guilty of "over sourcing" if that is what you call it.  I don't want to stop until I have found every little piece of information.  I am also obsessed with finding images to use in a profile. There is nothing like images to bring an ancestor to life for me.

I have gotten braver about editing profiles where I am not one of the PMs (with communication to the PMs of course).  Here is one that I did this spring that was basically unsourced, https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Laybourne-1.  I am pretty happy with the way "grandma" Rachel turned out.
by Caryl Ruckert G2G6 Pilot (209k points)
LOL - you're "I'm just helping you out" profile looks better than most of our own family profiles!
Very nice job, one little adjustment to be made on place name, PA at the end should be written out in full, not the abbreviated version of Pennsylvania.
Thanks SJ and Danielle!

Thanks for the catching the PA abbreviation Danielle.
Great job, Caryl. I've left a comment on the profile about the usage of the Quakers Project Box. Depending on what the PMs want, that may need a bit of a tweak.
I did not know about the Quaker project guidelines.  Thanks for letting me know.  I added the project box because I thought she should have it...the PMs will have to decided.  Thanks again!

Wow, great profile! I am with SJ! laugh I do not have nearly as much information on my own profiles.

+10 votes
I'm not in the habit of sourcing or over sourcing empty profiles. Thanks for asking, though, SJ, as you suddenly reminded me of this one: Butler-11657.  I remember Thomas Butler so well because he left an angry will in which was mentioned his daughter, who was so unworthy as to end up in the poor house! He left her one dollar and no more!  

That sounded dramatic. So I read up on poor houses in 19th century Iowa. I wasn't able to confirm the identity of the daughter, as there were several persons with the same name, and about the same age, having married a husband with the same name, in the area. I could not get to the bottom of it.  Any clever sleuths out there?

by C Ryder G2G6 Mach 9 (90.7k points)
He probably wouldn't have left her a dollar excepting for he didn't want her suing the estate after he was gone for lack of consideration...the $1. was evidence he did consider her.
+14 votes
Oh boy ... I had this problem during the Source-a-thon. (If youcan call it a problem?)

There I was, finding an Unsourced profile and started searching diligently for a source.

Then I fell down a rabbit hole and found 9-10 sources - birth, censuses, death, Find a Grave.

Only to find while I was rabidly source hunting that someone else zoomed by, added one little source, grabbed the credit/point for the Source-a-thon and zoomed away.

At that point I usually just added what I had found out additionally and moved on. But from then on I was sure to add one source initially, save tog et the "point" for the contest and /then/ go on my rabid source search. But I certainly didn't get as many points as the rest because of it.

More recently I "volunteered" to do the family tree for my step mother because I had exhausted the "easy"/low-hanging fruits on my own family tree and felt like doing more tree research. Now my step mother could care less about this stuff - she usually starts getting glaze-eyed when I told her all about the stuff I had found out about my ancestors and I doubted she'd feel any different about her own ancestors. But still ... I've been happily building out her tree, getting tons of resources. I even managed to connect her to an ancestor that would technically allow her to get membership to Daughters of the American Revolution. Plus a Mayflower ancestor, to boot! (Something I do not even have on my own tree!)

She still doesn't really have any interest. Heh.

And, off-topic, but I've found out through all this process that I dislike doing research in New York state records. The marriage indexes online do not list the name of the bride/groom's parents and I've no idea if they do on the actual record or not. (Plus having to provide proof of death, it seems, to get a genealogy copy of a marriage record of people born in 1890 that are most obviously dead by now.)


I'm thinking maybe I ought to try some other challenge besides Source-a-thon since that seems to be keyed more at just "one source and run" type deals and I like doing the whole she-bang.
by Kristen Louca G2G6 Mach 3 (34.2k points)
there's the profile improvement project you might want to go for.  :D  Not sure if they do a montly challenge or not.
The biography builders is part of the Profile Improvement project.  We do monthly challenges.  Come join us Kristen.  :)
+13 votes
For me this is a timely post, as my most recent episode occurred today.  I started with the unsourced profile of [[Osteen-167|Opal Osteen]].  The early confusion over too many names and husbands led me to try to sort it all out.  One comforting confirmation came when an Iowa (great records there) marriage record indicated that it was her fourth marriage.  Ultimately I found 5 marriages; 4 certain, and probably 5 children who died before age 2; and 20 sources! Just to keep it up, her sister [[Osteen-168|Flossie]] had three husbands and multiple children.  Both of these sisters had a daughter from the first marriage who was the only child still living with them 18 years later.
by Jim Angelo G2G6 Mach 6 (66.5k points)
+14 votes

I love it when people will add significantly to a profile I manage.  There are some who just have more information on a certain ancestor than I might have. I definitely welcome the changes and new material.   For example, is this profile, John Wilbur Glaze Jr.   which I managed but a number of people over time added sources , census section, biographical information, and background image, and totally transformed the profile into what it is today.

by James Stratman G2G6 Pilot (105k points)
very nice looking profile!
Wow!! I’d love it if someone made my profiles look like that! So organized and visually appealing. I am still researching, so I don’t spend as much time on my biographies.
+11 votes
I usually add what I find on Family Search as far as birth, marriage, death, FAG, cemetery category, family name books. I don't usually do biography but sometimes ad snippets found. I add some stickers (Quaker, died young, 1776), sometimes I add an occupation category or a university category.
by Sue Hall G2G6 Pilot (172k points)
+12 votes
ALWAYS!  I never add just one source and move on. I add as many as I can find. That’s why I don’t get as many profiles sourced as others, but more than some.

More often than not, I don’t even mark it when I do unsourced  profiles, except during a source a thon. So, I don’t think I’m getting credit for it. I used to keep a list of the unsourced profiles and post to the sourcers challenge. When they changed they way the challenges are recorded I stopped recording them because at first I didn’t understand, I would forget and Somewhere along the way I just stopped even trying to record them for credit  

I wish I could do the one source and move on, but I can’t. Lol. I will add family members, etc. sometimes, if the person has not worked on the profile in years.
by Debra Pate G2G6 Mach 2 (25.8k points)
+10 votes

Since joining the BioBuilders, I do this a lot, with every profile I work on; when the info is available, I add it.

A couple of examples:

I wasn't one of the Profile Managers when I did this one: Hubbard Burrows 

Good example of going overboard Esther (Denison) Wheeler

by T Counce G2G6 Mach 7 (75.0k points)
Nice job on these two profiles.  They look great!
Thank you Caryl.
Good looking profiles!
Thank you.
I do like the backgrounds, they give a very different look than the typical Wikitree profile that can often look, "sterile."  I think a continental background for a Revolutionary Patriot, a farmland scene for a farmer, or some flowered fields for a grandmother profile might go a long way to give the text some added "difference" from the standard WT page.

I did this one on the 11th Ira Wheeler (he was a harness maker)

The Hubbard Burrows (mentioned in my original comment) Has photos of Ft Griswold in it because that's where he died.

Nathaniel Palmer has his house (this is another one that I'm not the profile manager of...I recommended it for the notables project once I finished the profile)

For the Mother's Day Bio Builder's Challenge for May 2017 Mother's I added flowers...I try to change it up a bit...or I'll use a background for a particular family line.

Super, I think I might start adding some here and there.
I really don't mean to be tooting my own horn...I'm just proud of myself for going from not having a clue nearly 2 years ago to where I'm at now.

I refer to the opening sentence of this post:

Disclaimer up front: this is a "toot your own horn" thread.


True, but there's tooting your own horn and over doing it lol
Thank you SJ! I'm honored {blushing}!

I am related to Hubbard Burrows! I thought I was related to some Burrows, so I checked and we are 5C6R. wink

They are wonderful! Want to work on any of my family members? wink laugh

+10 votes
Wow I thought I went overboard by entering so many sources and then adding more family.

I'm still slowly learning the art of how to add sources and make it look half decent.

Awesome work that you all are doing!

My goal is to someday be on that awesome list even if it takes a couple of years or so....
by Louann Halpin G2G6 Mach 7 (73.5k points)
+7 votes
I do it all the time. I did a whole family of Reece’s around one profile. I hoped by adding lots of easy to find sources, another Reece profile manager in the same family might actually go looking for sources in the same places. To date, my cunning plan to educate that profile manager who I did email has failed. All she has done is to add Mr and Mrs!
by Fiona McMichael G2G6 Pilot (214k points)
+6 votes

See Jacob Bergan. This profile of one of my ancestors only had some Gedcom artifacts and a link to Ancestry when I found it. It had clearly once been lifted from my own Web site "Solumslekt" (now discontinued) and recycled through Ancestry. I wrote a synopsis of my original Norwegian work in English and put it in the Research Notes of this profile.

by Leif Biberg Kristensen G2G6 Pilot (221k points)
+7 votes
I have several irons in the fire, and do not really go for the "thons" much as my time for this is hit and miss but I did get real silly over a line of Swans that are not even my Swans - just figured since I had them there I would add the source and any missing just for the tree and became fascinated with the group they came over with and how all that went and I got real into it and sourced and found conflicting information and now have added several from the family and went round and round with the immigrant and created a one place study - have not had time to flesh that out much yet as tax season is upon us and my middle daughter has complications to her situation - but it is all coming along and who knows when I will get back to my family - lol
by Navarro Mariott G2G6 Pilot (172k points)
+7 votes
When I do participate in a Sourcerers' challenge, I usually try to cover BMD plus at least 1 census.  The recent one that took me beyond that was a guy that had three wives connected, and a bio that was just a list of his four wives.  22 sources later and I had documented his SIX wives, including the death of the first one and all 5 subsequent marriages. See [[Middlebrook-134|Hobart Middlebrook]].
by Jim Angelo G2G6 Mach 6 (66.5k points)

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