To profile? Or not to profile?

+12 votes
I have ancesters who have had children still born, died at birth or died shortly there after. In one particular family they had three, and they named them all the same name. I don't know if I should open a profile for them or just mention it in the biography of the parents. Thoughts anyone?
in The Tree House by Bill Sekel G2G6 Pilot (123k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

5 Answers

+4 votes
If these are living family members, I would not mention it.  The fact that they had these children is not historic, and it certainly doesn't effect the tree as a whole.  Not worth risking hurt, (just my opinion).

On the other hand, if you feel strongly that they should be documented, then I would at least ask the family before adding them to WikiTree.
by Cynthia B G2G6 Pilot (127k points)
In my world ancestors aren't living family members
+14 votes
If there are public records for these children I would make profiles so that the records can sort of be posted and retired.  Otherwsie future researchers will likely see the records and said records could cause confusion or be misposted.  Later, when more research is done on this family, since the records, which mean little really, willl already be recorded on the Wikitree, and any doubts about to whom the records belong, will not be an issue.
by Vincent Piazza G2G6 Pilot (241k points)
edited by Vincent Piazza
Aside from helping to prevent confusion, many people have an interest in Genealogy to look at hereditary medical conditions - while there is no evidence that stillbirth itself is heridtary, a number of conditions that can increase the risk of stillbirth are, therefore knowledge of stillbirths and infant deaths (and the causes if known) can contribute valuable information to a health profile.

With that said, the feelings of any lving family should obviously be respected... and if in doubt, leave it out. Parents, in particular, usually do not want to be reminded of children lost, and it can also be a sad memory for siblings who were looking forward to a new baby brother or sister.

Oops... forget to address the specific question Bill asked which was:

Should the stillborn or infant deaths have their own profiles, or only be mentioned on the profile of the parents?

I could hold up one statement from the help files, "Collaboration means one profile for every individual" as support for creating profiles for these children. (Whether or not a still born child is an 'individual' is a controversy that I will abstain from entirely)

On the other hand: 1) Since the only records that are likely to exist on these children are a record of stillbirth or a birth and death certificate, possibly an entry in a family bible, an obituary, and some sort of burial record, there is not much to colloborate on. 2) Creating profiles of children with the same name in one family can lead to erroneous merge proposals. 3) Many stillbirths either were not given names, or those names were not recorded (I commonly see them recorded as "NN") potentially resulting in a lot of profiles of first name Unknown. 4) The biography would possibly have very little reading value - there is only so much you can say about a child that never lived.

Considering the above I think:

If a family member wishes to create a profile for a stillborn child or a lost infant, as a memorial to share with family, then they absolutely should. Some beautiful words can help people through the grieving process.

From a purely research perspective, I would probably record stillbirths only on the profiles of the parents, and if they share a name with a later child that survived, on the profile of that child. The records (probably only a record of still birth, possibly an obituary, and a burial) are then accounted for, and at the same time the chances that someone will find the record of the stillborn child and change the dates on the profile for the 'survivor' is (hopefully) reduced.

Live born children that died as infants I am having a harder time forming an opinion about - Because there is likely more records than for a stillborn child, possibly even a photograph, I think a profile might be merited.

Same result, perhaps some rationale to add to that suggested by Vincent.  

I tend to work only on historical families. None the less, births and deaths of all children seem relevant, both as linked relationships and family events.

Beyond the notion of a public record or inherited medical trait, the birth and loss of a child, even a small child, likely impacted on the lives of any number of those closely related.

Separate from public records, historical records memorializing children who died young may be found in family bibles, church and cemetery records.

More than once, learning and confirming the information in the records of children who died young also led to the identifcation of a spouse/mother who may herself have died shortly after childbirth.
Many of these children we're burried, creating an actual grave site and marker.  

They also create a more complete picture of a families history that helps when looking for "missing children" because of the gaps in years between births in large families.  I think that would get lost by adding it as a description on a parent's profile.

I tend to lean toward creating the profile so that is shows up in the list of children.  But I certainly have run up against the merging of duplicate profiles because of reusing the same name.  Having made the mistake myself.

Excellent point about the 'gaps' in birth years. Many families I have researched had children, as if by clockwork, every 1-3 years, and creating profiles does help draw more attention to possibly missed children than only listing them on the parents profile does, since they now appear in the family view, and in the list of descendants.
For the reason Michael suggests, I do create (in my offline database) profiles for all recorded births, even still-births. Gaps in births is often interpreted as evidence of death of one wife and marriage to a subsequent wife, especially if the mother's name is not included on the birth record (which is often the case way back when in some countries).

I haven't gotten around to creating such profiles on wikitree yet for lack of time. But should I get around to uploading the particular GEDCOM I'm thinking about, they'd get created.  I'm just waiting for GEDCOM upload to generate better narratives. ;-b
0 votes
I would document on the parents profile. But as wikitree is about building a lineage, I would not create a profile that went no where.
by Trudy Roach G2G6 Pilot (179k points)

 I would not create a profile that went no where.

On the other hand, when records  indicate that Henry was born and died in 1705 and Henry was born in 1707 and died in 1785, there should be some information indicating that there were two Henrys. I generaly included a profile to that point 

I see (now) that Vincent has written on this also. 

And I hope the children aren't named Boy!
On many German church records, a stillborn is recorded as (translated to english) "dead daughter" or "dead son" - with no name. How should we record that?
+6 votes
When there are multiples of the same name, I prefer to add them including both the birth and death dates.  If it just says 'died young' then I put the death date as BEFORE  the date of the next child with the same name.

I do this because if there are three sons named John, I have sometimes found other profiles with the correct lineage except  for the John that survived, and is listed with the birth date is incorrectly, ie. it will list a birth date for a sibling that died.   That can get confusing in making further linkages.

John b. 1666, d.1667:  John b. 1670, died young;  John 1682-1745, married Susan and had 7 children and some source/profile has John 1666-1745, married Susan.   Then when you try to find further on the lineage on John 1666 and Susan you get stuck, because the surviving John is really 1682.

Just a thought.
by Chris Hoyt G2G6 Pilot (694k points)
+2 votes
Good responses

Point 1. My own preference is to create my own list of children found in the censuses and from grave sites and mentioned in obits. This is "handcrafted" and not from some other person's list.

Point 2. Any child which died before the procreative age of 14/15, I don't usually profile, unless I find a grave site for the child. This child is also designated "d.s.p." on my list

Point 3. My list is usually posted on the biog of each parent, unless there's one found on their grave site, or found in the family-tree at familysearch dot com Sometimes, rarely, I end up with all three lists as a comparison for future researchers

Point 4. Parents have been known to reuse a name if one child dies and another of the same gender is born. SOME parents, with multiple serial wives, have two sons with identical names, one per wife, and the first one still living. That I discovered twice, once in Virginia and once in Mississippi.

Point 5. If I can't find a grave site, nor a census, and there is an obvious gap in the DOB of the children listed any list is "known children of" and the gap is usually pointed out. Occasionally I find the male parent in prison or off to war for the duration or living with another woman elsewhere.

Point 6. Not every child on my self-created list has its own profile, even if it lives beyond procreative age (shown in census or mentioned in an obit) simply because I can't find substantive confirmation in the records online. Nevertheless it will "show" in the collected census (or obit) I've collected. It's there and available to future researchers.
by Susan Smith G2G6 Pilot (301k points)

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