What do you work on after you've loaded your tree as far as you can?

+13 votes
What do you work on after you've loaded your tree as far as you can?
in WikiTree Help by Thressa Paplanus G2G4 (4.7k points)
Lurk around G2G and try to answer people's questions.  Great for building research chops.
Find anda add more sources
Add images of records or places they lived or someething about an occupation!
connections, connections, connections...

Your family did more than be born, marry, have kids, and die.  they influenced others.  They joined causes.  They served.  They were influenced.

Others may find those connections lead past brick walls in their own trees.  EG I am leaning heavily on pre-Revolution Bubier and post-Revolution Lancaster associates to figure out pre-Revolution lineages of my poorly documented clan of rebellious Clarks.

13 Answers

+20 votes
Best answer

You start with siblings and go down in the tree again. I feel that even if you only research your own relatives, and not your spouses ancestors, or your childrens spouses etc, there isn't enough time in a lifetime to research them all (which is a good thing if you love this hobby).

In your own tree just to take a few random examples, didn't John Benjamin Ballard have any siblings? What about the siblings to William Samuel Hopkins Bedingfield? Didn't you ever wonder what happened to them? They are your relatives too. If you are lucky you will find living relatives you didn't know about. And when you're done with that you can go one step up in the tree and get 10 times more fun research to do. It never ends. And finally, when you are 70 years old and have finished your work, then you can start with your spouse. smiley

by John Andersson G2G1 (1.5k points)
selected by Kevin Conroy
It's especially useful to research ancestors' siblings and their descendants if you or someone in your family has done DNA testing. One of my long-term goals is to find all the descendants of my 5xggps, so that people who match one of my parents' kits at the 2nd to 4th cousin range have a decent chance of finding the relationship (assuming no NPEs).
+14 votes
Maintaining profiles, adding families of the neighbors to my ancestors, etc. (Which is very helpful for cluster genealogy and connecting to other wikitree members.)
by Dina Grozev G2G6 Pilot (144k points)
Zackly what I do, Dina. Plus a free space page.
+14 votes
Spouses of my children; my brother-in-law’s family; interesting relatives. My wife has a remote ancestor who struck me as very interesting, so I am trying to identify his descendants (I have more than 1,000 so far). I’m trying to update a genealogy of my surname written in the 1940s. I volunteer at a FHC, so I help patrons. I occasionally speak at genealogical society meetings, participate in genealogy-related public service projects. I am an officer in a local genealogical society.

I am working on a family tree as a wedding present for a friend.

If I buy a biography, I usually try to put together a brief (ocassionally a lot more than brief) family tree of the subject of the book as these generally are only minimally presented in the biography.

I’ve taken an in-depth look at the Romanov’s: it is surprising how little Russian they were. The last Tsar was predominantly German.

You are limited only by your imagination!
by George Fulton G2G6 Pilot (508k points)
BTW: I’ve been doing genealogical research for about 50 years, ever since I was a teenager.
+8 votes
I was doing Notables before the GDPR rules went into effect.

Right now, I am concentrating on trying to find my mothers family now that she and I have finally got our DNA test results back.
by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+11 votes
I'd go to any profiles I manage that say "first hand knowledge" or that quote a Familysearch or Ancestry family tree as the sole source, and add good primary sources. Then I'd use the information in those sources to write narrative biographies. I'd also add all brothers and sisters to each person in the tree, then their spouses, adding married names and sourcing them as I go, to ensure it is a tree and not just a twig. I'd also add any categories or stickers that were appropriate to each profile.

Once that is all done and the newly added side-branch relatives' bios are all written, then I'd work on researching brickwall ancestors and also look at the oldest edited profiles I manage to see if I could improve the biography or add anything else such as photos, backgrounds, or update the primary source information (new sources are being released all the time).

Of course if you do all this, you are unlikely to actually come to an end point but if you do find yourself twiddling your thumbs, then you could do some connecting, visit a cemetery and take photos to upload, or join a group and help out.
by Gillian Causier G2G6 Pilot (263k points)
Another thing is checking that profiles over 110 years old have a death date and a death and or burial source to support that, not just a Findagrave source.

Also, anybody with last name of Unknown needs more work to establish what that elusive last name was.

Then there is the Suggestions Report to work through, correcting any errors and making suggested improvements.

For others' reference, there is an Unknowns Project.

+11 votes
Start working collateral lines. Look at the siblings of your direct ancestors and follow their lines downwards. This information will be useful in making sense of your DNA matches.
by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (634k points)
+6 votes
I've adopted a couple of profiles with the same family name as me, but on the other side of the world. It's good practice using sources I'm less familiar with, and who knows - there may be a link after all!
by Alison Wilkins G2G6 Mach 3 (30.3k points)
+7 votes
I find that I am never done. There is a concept in genealogical research called “reasonably exhaustive search” where you find everything you can about an individual since no one document is really sufficient. This can lead to better biography and possibly some interesting side paths when you find something that grabs your interest.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (459k points)
+6 votes
Hi Theressa,  I have been working on my line of the tree for over two  years and still  can't see the point where I  will say it is "finished".  I looked at your profiles and would suggest that you might start at your grandparents or great grandparents and flesh out the biography for each person going back up the tree and adding as much information and sources as you can find.  I am working on the Anderson branch great grandparents in my line right now and  working on biographies/sources of their siblings and siblings spouses.   It helps me really understand their lives and appreciate them.  It also helps cousins find connections and add connections I didn't have.   Good luck with whatever next step you choose. Cherry
by Cherry Duve G2G6 Mach 5 (59.9k points)
+4 votes

Many good ideas in this thread already. Some others that worked for me:

  • One Name Study. This can be useful if you have an uncommon last name in your family. I have created one with my last name, contribute to two more, and have threatened myself with starting three other ones (though I haven't done this yet). Doing this can be rewarding and exhausting at the same time.
  • Along with a One Name Study is to do research into African American families with the same name, and the effects of slavery (in the US) from a family perspective. If you have family roots in the South, then you'll likely run into the issue that you might have slave holders in your family. They don't even have to be in the South for this to happen. I've tried to do a lot of this with the Weddington Name Study, as much as I can.
  • Are any of your ancestors listed in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) database? Or in the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) database? How many of your ancestors? Are their profiles marked as such?
  • What other projects on WikiTree might you be interested in? The Cemeteries Project can always use help, especially in your local area. (I'm the leader for Colorado Cemeteries Project.) Do you have other interests that might also intersect with genealogy? I'm a Freemason and I started the Freemasonry Project (free space).
  • Do you like finding interesting sources? Did you know that we can create Source Profiles on WikiTree? I found sources that can be used on multiple profiles, and this was a good way to learn how to easily do that. In the process I created the Seventh Day Baptist page out of necessity; I had collected information on this topic that no one else seemed to have.
  • There are numerous challenges here on WikiTree. These are useful to hone certain kinds of skills. I learned a lot about sourcing doing the Sourcing challenges.
  • Do you have any family photos? Add as many of them to the profiles that you have. Or interesting family artifacts? Be sure to document them and / or photograph them.

I still have to do a number of suggestions that others have made. While I have sourced a lot, and connected a lot, I'm terrible at writing biographies.

There is always something to work on, or learn.

by Eric Weddington G2G6 Pilot (385k points)
edited by Eric Weddington
+6 votes
You already have some great tips.  But here's a few more.

Does  " loaded your tree as far as you can" mean you have brick walls?  I spend a great effort on those and have broken two so far..... it took over 3 years to break them.... and requires checking again every year.

I spend a lot of time on military records and posting stickers for soldiers.  

I did my  cousin-in-law's tree for about 6 generations...... loved working in Massachusetts where they kept better birth and marriage records than the states I usually research in.  It's amazing how others appreciate your effort on their family tree.

As my parents' generation are in their late 80's,   I've become the family photo scanner  (for pre 1950 photos) when someone passes.  My cousins give me the photos and  I post these photos to their WikiTree profiles.  Many aren't labeled on the back and we have to figure out who's who.  When my Aunt Ima died last winter,  we found family property deeds going back to the late 1800s....  Records like this will tell the family history if posted to WikiTree.  

I want to put  4 of our small family cemeteries in WikiTree;   I've photographed the headstones myself so there's no problem with Find A Grave photo ownership.

I'm trying to work in more WikiTree projects..... have done the Source-A-Thon and am on one project, but that's a lame effort.

I now have enough information posted on WikiTree that about once a week I'll get email from  "the public" which needs a few hours of attention.  Last week was my best week!  First: Someone who knows where my  6 great grandfather's grave is located contacted me.  (We're going to see it with her, it's just fallen over stones at this point.)   Second:  Someone provided information on my  3 great grandmother's Cherokee heritage, which now needs verification.  Third:  Someone that was in my brother's 5th grade class (we only lived in her town for a year.... but she had a crush on him and remembered our family) said we are "related"  so I filled in the gaps and she's right.

Actually,  I have to quit looking for new things to do..... I likely have a lifetime's worth of projects already.
by Peggy McReynolds G2G6 Pilot (450k points)
"The public" are great for providing extra tasks - I wouldn't call it work. I've been contacted a few times by distant relatives and also by the family of profiles I've sourced or adopted. It's heartening to know my contribution has been read, so I often go and add a bit more if I can find it. I even managed to find a photo of an 80 year old as a boy in a museum collection, which was quite rewarding.
I agree with you entirely Fiona.
+4 votes
Now that the names are entered, I think you should work on improving the profiles of your ancestors. Just clicking through your gg-grandparents, none of them are properly sourced or include a narrative biography of their lives. Most of them are sourced with just an ancestry.com link or a FAG link. I would would work on finding proper sources which prove the genealogical details and work on adding biographies which describe their lives and families (as much as is known).
by Joe Cochoit G2G6 Pilot (233k points)
+6 votes

1) Break those brick walls! Looking at your tree, you're missing some 3x great grandparents. Find them! You can spend a LOT of time on brick walls.

2) Add more sources! Try to find birth, marriage, and death records for all your ancestors. Track them through the censuses. See if you can find their tombstones. Plug their names into FamilySearch and just see what records pop up!

3) Write biographies for your ancestors. It'll be easier once you have an abundance of sources! I like to start by making a basic timeline of the events in their lives.

4) Branch out! Try to find all your ancestors' children, or even their grandchildren. If you have a spouse, start their family tree! (My partner's family tree makes me feel like a beginner genealogist again.)

5) Go beyond your own family! You could help out a WikiTree Project and find interesting things to work on there. I like to photograph whole cemeteries for the Canadian Cemeteries Project, and sometimes I end up getting really invested in researching a random family I discovered in a local cemetery. I've learned some interesting local history this way, too!

In genealogy, you're never done. :) I would definitely recommend starting with adding more sources, especially on your brick wall profiles. It'll make the profiles better, and also eventually help you break some of those brick walls!

by Lianne Lavoie G2G6 Pilot (427k points)

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