Please do not forget the 306 000 plus UNKNOWNS !!!

+33 votes

Every week I spend some time trying to find names and sources for profiles on the 306 000 plus Unknowns list.

Will it be help full to have an "Unknowns Friday" just to highlight and remind Managers to have a look at some of these profiles on their list?

There are some profile managers that have more than 500  Unknowns on their watch list, simply just listed as Living Unknown. Some of these managers are active and others not.

I do know that there are profiles that will always remain Unknown, but it would be great if we can give names to some of the others.

in The Tree House by Esmé van der Westhuizen G2G6 Pilot (115k points)
Just remember, please, that "Unknowns" should not be given last names unless there is good supporting evidence.  There are more than a few people (mostly married woman) who have been thoroughly researched, but whose LNABs have never been discovered -- and probably never will be discovered. It's common for members to try to replace the "Unknown" LNAB for one of these people with a name found in an unsourced online genealogy (or similar source), mistakenly thinking that any name is better than "Unknown."
Thanks for the reminder. What a great idea to set aside a day for these folks. I do that now for Connectors, Data Doctors, and Sourcerors -- I can add unknowns to that list.
Yes, this is sad but true.  The problem happens especially with women.  A record or records will be found for her, but with only her married name.  No mention (or record) of her birth name, parents, etc.  Would be great to find such records, but it sometimes seems they are just not there to be found.
I think it is also important to remember that Unknowns are inevitable on the fringes of the family tree. It is essential that if you have a marriage record with just the first name that a Unknown is formed. This is essential information for searching and matching. Also I think if you add a census return you should add all the "family" members as well even if it is a very basic profile. You may not be much bothered about the others but they are very much part of one world tree and this may well lead to further merges and matches. A family group is much easier to match and confirm than just a mother father and child.

9 Answers

+21 votes
I find a special sort of satisfaction in giving an Unknown a name. :)
by Anonymous Haywood G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
I do as well, Ros!
+15 votes
One option, is to give the unknowns a place in the "Find" dropdown menu, such as the Unconnected and unsourced profiles.

Not exactly sure how they would be sorted, as they all have the same last name.  I'm sure a way could be found.  But it would encourage, people to work on them.
by Craig Albrechtson G2G6 Mach 8 (84.7k points)
Craig, that would be absolutely lovely. I don’t know if Wikitree can or will do that, though?
Isn't "Unknown" a searchable list under Surnames?
+12 votes
I cleared a lot of mine. But for some profiles it is now much easier to find as the GRO lists mother's maiden name.
by Hilary Gadsby G2G6 Pilot (109k points)

Following on from Hilary's excellent comment about mother's maiden names in the GRO (England and Wales) birth registration indexes, the website is here:

A first time user has to create a free account (no credit card details required) before accessing the search page. Then you can bookmark the search page itself. 

Searching can only be 2 years either side of a given year, so find the year of birth registration on FreeBMD first.

+12 votes
Esmé, thank you for the reminder that we should always be looking for ways to better the tree. I had no idea I had 5 “Unknown” women on my watchlist - all people whose maiden names have still escaped me.
by Liz Marshall G2G6 Mach 8 (81.6k points)
+11 votes
I agree with you. I see allot of unknowns AND even those with a name, but no maintainer for that profile.

I had recently ran into a few suggested duplicates that had a name for the individual and no maintainer.

Once I reviewed and confirmed as an actual duplicate, I then confirmed the merge and then selected the option on the profile for adopting the profile as its new maintainer.

There's so many variables to certain situations that end up being dismissed by so many individuals.

Please remember a few good tips (amongst the many), 1 - "when in doubt, please ask it out" (pretty Kewl saying... LOL!) & 2 - "don't bite off more than you can chew" (meaning to know your limitations).

~Brian Kerr
by Brian Kerr G2G6 Pilot (169k points)
+13 votes

Is there any way to get a sense of how many of these are women with a current last name (so presumably the maiden name is not known), men with an unknown first name and at least 2 children (so presumably automatically made by the system), 20th century people that have not been properly anonymized, and all the other ones (unknown for a variety of reasons).  

There is also a small subset that have a known last name but the profile manager has not made the change (see also this previous discussion -

by W Robertson G2G6 Mach 6 (60.7k points)
+8 votes
Sometimes I have to create profiles to source a person. Usually I orphan those profiles very fast. With one woman I didn't do that. In her marriage document was written the LNAB of her mother. Her mother was/is on WT with (unknown), but with a PM. I posted a public message on the profile with the request to change the LNAB, referring to the source. Until now the PM didn't react. I should write a personal message...
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (509k points)
+9 votes
I've worked on a few of these; they are fun to do and mostly I've been able to find a source once the LNAB is known.
by Elizabeth Coltrane G2G6 Mach 1 (18.2k points)
+8 votes
I get excited when I can manage to find an UNKNOWNs last name. I hate having to create an Unknown profile, but sometimes there isn't much choice. I try to pay special attention to these myself.
by Debi Matlack G2G6 Mach 7 (76.6k points)

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