Help improve New Netherland Settlers Project 5-star profiles

+7 votes

Hello to New Netherland Settlers Project members and others with an interest in New Netherland (and the early history of New York and New Jersey).

Our project has a good-sized share of "five star profiles" (the most highly visited profiles in WikiTree) that are in need of loving attention so that WikiTree will look its best when visitors come here.

Some of the kinds of things that may need to be attended to in order to improve a visitor's experience:

  1. Cleanup: Remove GEDCOM junk (see, remove duplication left over from merges (see
  2. If the text section of the profile contains (or consists of) excerpts from secondary sources, the content should be rewritten to create a single coherent biography supported by footnoted source citations. Quotations should be clearly identified as such.
  3. Check that facts are sourced. Try to find sources for ones that aren't. Convert mysterious computer-generated sources like "Source: #S33" in footnotes and source lists into conventional human-readable formats (such as an author-title-publisher-date-page format for books).
  4. Biography text should be written in complete sentences.
  5. Make sure the profile meets WikiTree's Profile Aesthetics recommendations ( and
  6. Recommendations of sources for further reading should appear in bulleted lists in the source section at the end of the profile, not in footnoted sentences like "See [1] [2] [3] [4] for additional details."

The table below is a starter list of a few of our profiles that have the highest visit rates (several hundred visits per year), with a few notes on their needs. More 5-star profiles will be listed soon...

Kent-214 Penelope Stout (Kent) aka Van Princes, Van Princis, Van Prinzen Has pending merge. Needs footnotes. Need to clearly distinguish between sourced content and unproveable legends. Did she really live that long?
Du Trieux-21 Philippe Antoni Philip du Trieux aka du Truy, du Trier, du Trieu Extensive excepts from sources need rewriting/paraphrasing.
Stout-60 Richard Stout Penelope's husband. Did he really live that long (are the life dates valid)? Do all of the images add value?
Jansen-455 Anthonis Anthony Antony, de Turk van Salee (Jansen) aka Janszen, Janszoon Profile has had MANY merges and would benefit from more cleanup
Harrison-66 Isaiah Harrison Serious questions about sourcing. Needs cleanup.
Du Bois−14 Louis Du Bois Needs include cleanup, footnotes, biography-writing. Liz handled this one.
Van Hook-53 Lawrence Van Hook Sources need attention. Some of the lengthy needs to be incorporated into biography; some of it (such as full text of his will and estate inventory) could be exported to one or more free-space pages.

Willem Adriaensz Bennet

Tidy up the source citations (remove useless "Source," lengthy repository numbers, etc.). Add footnoted sources for facts that don't have soruces now.
Cool-30 Cornelis Lamberts Cool Clean up duplication left over from merges. Replace the numerous footnoted citations to Ancestry Trees and other low-quality sources with citations to reliable sources.

Will you join this effort? Post here to tell us what you are working on, boast about the improvements you've made, or ask questions.

Note: The project hasn't given up emphasizing the need for reliable sources to support profile contents, particularly details from church records to document LNABs (we still have a massive list of profiles that need documentation of the person's LNAB). The need to improve 5-star profiles is a new emphasis -- and an activity that may appeal to to people who prefer to write biographies and clean up profiles instead of doing research.

Does 5-star profile work seem too hard for you?

Here's a task that will enhance the visitor experience to our project profiles and that may be easier for you to tackle.

Replace dead-end citations that point to “NJGS” or to PDF documents formerly available at (with links from with citations that (1) correctly identify the author as Patricia Wardell, (2) give the title of the work and (3) include valid working links to the relevant Space page in WikiTree, which is Space:Early Bergen County Families.

Example 1:

Replace:    NJGS. "Van Aken: Isaak Van Aaken (Isaac)" ''''. Accessed 12 Jan 2017.

New version:    Wardell, Patricia A. "[[Space:Early Bergen County Families|Early Bergen County Families]]", Genealogical Society of Bergen County website, "Isaak Van Aaken" in file BCFam-VanAken.pdf. Accessed 23 Feb 2017.

Example 2:

Replace:    NJGS. "R." ''''. Accessed 13 Jun 2016. '''PDF'''

New version:    Wardell, Patricia A. "[[Space:Early Bergen County Families|Early Bergen County Families]]", Genealogical Society of Bergen County website, File BCFam-R.pdf. Accessed 13 Jun 2016.

To find profiles that may need this change, search Wikitree for the string

Note: If the existing citation doesn’t include a filename, you will need to access the files (downloadable from a link on the Space page) to determine which file the person is covered in.

If you decide to work on Early Bergen Families profiles, please post here to let us know what you are doing, so you won't collide with other members.

in Requests for Project Volunteers by Ellen Smith G2G6 Pilot (980k points)
edited ago by Ellen Smith
Hi, in my opinion:

Projects should INSIST on reliable sources for any basic preamble facts such as birth date and place, LNAB, etc.

'Emphasis', a state of mind, does not reliably produce the desired result - accuracy.

In some cases, a circumstantial case may be substituted, when source records are non-existent after EXHAUSTIVE search (go to the place and do local research; consult local professionals; review only of online transcripts and unsourced family trees does not suffice). The derived facts must correlate well with background reality as it is known (zero contradictory evidence, timeline is 'normal' with no inexplicable gaps or births too close together, women don't have children beyond biological limits,  etc).

I find the PGM project well aligned with these opinions.

Thanks for listening.

Weldon, I don't believe you intended your comments to be demoralizing, but that's how they come across.

 It would be great to able to "insist" on reliable sources on all project profiles. Current WikiTree policy requires that new pre-1700 profiles must cite reliable sources, but the reality is that most of the profiles in this project were created (often many times over) without reliable sources, mostly through Gedcom imports. Merely identifying the duplicates when the different profiles for a person had different names and inconsistent data, then merging what could be five, ten, fifteen, or even twenty different profiles for one person has been a heavy lift for this project, and it's a task that's not done, although there are far fewer duplicates now than there were at one time.

The members who created this profiles had good intentions and typically were unaware of the shortcomings of the "sources" they cited (if they cited sources at all). WikiTree doesn't delete these member contributions. And when the data in a profile is indicated to be based only on questionable sources, I think it's important to retain that source information in order to understand where the data came from until such time as we have succeeded in validating or rejecting the profile information (this may include things like determining that two people were conflated in the profile) on the basis of reliable sources. 

The project's Project Maintenance categories contain thousands of project-managed profiles that we have identified as having various kinds of needs, starting (at the simplest levels) with basic sources needed to determine what the person's last name at birth, and the person's church records. Unlike the Puritan Great Migration (PGM) project (which is, by the way, the first WikiTree project I joined and one in which I am proud to participate), we don't have the luxury of having a single go-to place to find reliably sourced information on the early settlers of New Netherland. New Netherland does not have anything close to an equivalent to the NEHGS and its Great Migration Project. As a result, it's usually much harder to research these people than it is to research an immigrant who arrived in New England by 1635 and is documented in the amazing books of the Great Migration Project. The WikiTree New Netherland Settlers Project has, however, assembled extensive information on reliable sources for New Netherland, including online sources (most of them free) that provide access to church records from various churches and other primary records. Unfortunately, I've observed that many project members find it "too hard" to find reliable sources for their ancestors. I've even received private messages from members who are upset that I asked them to find sources for their ancestors' profiles -- they asserted that I, as Project Leader, am personally responsible for researching their ancestors (and presumably every single profile in the project) for them.

I hope you will be showing your commitment to reliable sources in this project by improving the sourcing on project profiles.

Ellen, I believe you are one of the high magnitude Stars in the Wikitree firmament, and you took over what was, in my opinion, a troubled project. Much thanks.

As you may have deduced, my recommended approach is for Projects to simply disconnect unsourced ancestors. Period. Give the manager(s) some time to fix the sourcing, and failing in that, simply wield the axe. That responsibility may be the greatest value of Projects to the our combined efforts here.

Yes, feelings may be hurt. But the great attraction for me in Wikitree is that it declares itself a principled entity. When principles collide with peoples' tightly-clutched fantasies, there will be those most compassionate ones who say let them keep their fantasies, and those who agree entirely, but on principle request: PLEASE keep your fantasies private; they have no place in the public sphere. No great surprise, the latter group includes me.

I have experienced only one disappointment in this regard at Wikitree, and NNS was involved. I looked forward to your being able to fix it, but nothing changed on my issue, so my 'live and let live' personality forced me to let go. But I still retain the right to trumpet my support for principle.

Please keep up your great work within this great endeavor, and know I am a lifer in your fan club.
Hi again Ellen,

You requested my continued efforts on improving NNS profiles. I spent considerable time 'improving' just one, and it was deemed by Project to be unsuitable  (I failed to attach its prior fantasy ancestors). I was demoralized and removed myself from NNS.

For NNS,  I researched on the ground from Stillwater to Schenectady, and in Somerset and Gloucester counties in NJ. But existent records from our frontiers of 350 years ago answer few of our questions.

Improvement on the few found sources is not likely enough to warrant pouring more treasure into the search. We must let go. There most likely is no known existent source. And if that leaves an ancestor unsourced, we must leave the question open to analysis in the Biography, but with no claimed ancestor 'officially' connected.

As I mentioned, in some special cases, circumstantial evidence may be legitimately substituted for sources, but the circumstantial narrative must entertain all surrounding evidence, finding no conflicts or poorly informed guesses.

I have exhaustively researched my claimed ancestry in New Netherland. So what you see of my efforts on NNS profiles is likely all you get. I've moved on.
I’m going to look at Penelope Stout and her parents.
I will also help with Harrison-66.
Thanks, Ellen!!

2 Answers

+5 votes
Lois du Bois is my 9x gr-grandfather. His profile was developed years ago but a rash of merges degraded the quality & cleaning it up has been on my "to-do" list for ages. I'll bump him closer to the top of my list  and hope to make some progress this weekend.

Cheers, Liz
by Liz Shifflett G2G6 Pilot (335k points)
That's great, Liz! Thanks!
Done. Hope it's ok. If not, maybe someone else could try.
Ah, so much better!!!
+1 vote

Here's another cleanup activity that may appeal to some project members: Replace extracts from Netherlands databases with citations and excerpts from the original records.

Some profiles have lengthy citations to database entries in Netherlands Archives for baptisms and marriages that took place in New Netherland. These database entries were derived from the transcripts of the original church records that were published in America, mostly over a century ago. We should cite those records, rather than the database. This is not just a matter of national pride. These database entries can be misleading (some members have been misled) -- they make it look like the person was born or married in the Netherlands, when in fact the events occurred in America. Also, the Netherlands database may include imputed information (such as the gender of a baptized child) that wasn't in the original record -- and may turn out to be wrong. And it doesn't hurt to point out that the actual church records are much shorter than the database extracts. 

Here's an example of a database extract to be replaced:

Gebeurtenis: Doop Datum: zondag 10 mei 1648
Kind: Elsje Geslacht: Vrouw
Vader: Theunis Nijssen
Witn.- Getuigen: Barent Bal, Elsje Pieters
Gebeurtenisplaats: NDG-New Netherland

  • Source: Wiewaswie: Documenttype: DTB Dopen Erfgoedinstelling: Nationaal Archief Plaats instelling: Den Haag Collectiegebied: Nieuw-Nederland Registratiedatum: 10 mei 1648 Akteplaats: Nieuw Amsterdam-New York Collectie: Collegiate Church of New York Aktesoort:baptism Elsje 1648

That's the database extract for a baptism (Doop) in New Amsterdam on 10 May 1648. The original published version of New Amsterdam baptism records is online at several free locations. Here's the source citation for the book that includes the 1648 records:

Evans, Thomas Grier. "Records of the Reformed Dutch Church in New Amsterdam and New York. Baptisms from 25 December, 1639 to 27 December, 1730." Collections of the New-York Genealogical and Biographical Society. Vol 2, Part 1. New York: Printed for the Society, 1901.

Download a copy or keep a browser tab open to an online version.

That 10 May 1648 baptism is on page 24, at . It's in 4 columns: the first is the date, followed by Ouders (i.e. parents), Kinders (children), and Getuygen (witnesses or sponsors).

The entry line for this child reads "Eodem. Theunis Nyssen. Elsje. Barent Bal, Elsje Pieters." Eodem means ditto, so when we document this record in the profile, we replace that with the dittoed date entry, which is "den 10 May." And to avoid confusion, we usually stick the abbreviation "Wit" in front of the witnesses names. So we end up documenting the entire baptism record for Elsje, child of Theunis Nyssen, as:

1648. den 10 May. Theunis Nyssen. Elsje. Wit: Barent Bal, Elsje Pieters.

And of course we'll insert a footnote citation to the Evans book, as indicated above.

Can you help make these changes to source citations? I'll post a list of some 5-star profiles that need this kind of attention.

by Ellen Smith G2G6 Pilot (980k points)

Some five-star profiles that would benefit from this kind of editing (feel free to do other cleanup, sourcing, and rewriting, too!):

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