Proposal for "Early New England Families" Project

+24 votes

We have the Puritan Great Migration project for the immigrants.  Those people had children after arrival, but, if I read the PGM project guidelines correctly, we shouldn't include the children in the PGM project. Just as with the Immigrants, there are MANY profiles for the early generations after the immigrants and lots of merging is still needed, Many of these have been (inappropriately) placed in the PGM project, and I have done it myself, but they are not part of that project and don't belong there.  In fact, most don't qualify for any current project.

What about creating a project for the people born in New England with a cut off date of, say, born before 1700?  We don't have an "Early New England Families Project," but it seems that would be an appropriate designation for them. Of course, if these people more appropriately fit in another category, such as Mayflower, William Penn, New Netherland, etc., they would be placed there.

One of the advantages to having such a project would be that profiles for early New England people could have project protection. These generally are historically-significant people and/or very common ancestors, but they currently don't qualify for project protection under any current project.


asked in The Tree House by Vic Watt G2G6 Pilot (314k points)
Just a mini clarification: children of immigrants CAN be {{PGM}} tagged IF they were born in England and emigrated to New England.
As someone who spends a lot of time in that space, I would welcome such a project.
I have been waiting to join the Categorization Project dicussion group to ask about a Founders and Settlers or First Families category.  I know some of these have been created but I am wondering about a logical or best approach to organize them under.  

Many of these narrow down to towns and cities.  I think we could set this up so that such "Offical Socieities" could fit in with unestablished locals.
I like it, Vic.  I've found several families that need special attention for whatever reason, confusing naming, multiple marriages, fame or infamy ... maybe just gobs of descendants.

Probably plenty of interest in something like "Early New England Families" and I might also like to see an "Early Virginian Families"  or is that too geographically limiting?

Another way to go ... but maybe this is not specific enough ... something like "Pivotal Ancestors"  could cover a lot of ground with that one.  I also like "Founders and Settlers," Michael ... that could work for almost all the early "popular" profiles.
Sounds like a good project.
Agree fully, let's do it.
It sounds good to me. I have a quite a few ancestors in that period, and it's frustrating when something changes or get merged that doesn't seem quite right.  It would be helpful if there were some profile protection for that group, and I assume that it would be the responsibility of the leader(s) with participation from other project members.  What would be the primary sources used?  I'm wondering how I might search for my ancestors born in New England before 1700.
Doug and others, "project protection" only prevents the last name from being changed. Incorrect relations can still be attached. The PPP hopefully slows people down but otherwise has no technological way to prevent bad attachments.
In answer to your other question, Anderson's Great Migration profiles do list children born to immigrants so you can find many there.
I really like the idea, Vic.

Aside from a stray Cornishman who immigrated in the late 1800s, I keep finding ancestors who first show up in records from the 1640s, and they don't fit into any particular project.

Maybe "Early Settlers", to include Virginia and New York, etc?
I like Vic's idea.

Michael Stills' observation, that these often narrow down to particular towns and towns and cities is true of my ancestors. Finding a good source, usually by a researcher or state government which has examined and recorded primary records from the town, makes documenting them easier, and a project would be able to list these sources with the state/county/towns they document. This would be one possible path to answer Doug Warren's question about primary sources. Sometimes those primary sources are in church records - the First Church of this or that town in Connecticut or Massachusetts. Or in Quaker records.

In the Gateway Ancestors section of the Magna Carta project, we are working with hundreds of first settlers, but their immediate descendants are in need of protection and improvement also. Great idea, Vic.
The Mayflower descendents get the PPP protection for the first 3 generations.

heart the Mayflower project Becky.



I sympathize with the suggestions here for some sort of broad "Early American Settlers," but I don't think that's a good idea. My own ancestry is derived almost entirely from three distinct subsets of early American settlers: the Puritan Great Migration to New England, New Netherland settlers, and early settlement of Pennsylvania. In my experience (which is admittedly limited), the differences between these three different "early settler" populations (due largely to differences in the settlers' original languages, conditions in the regions they left, religious traditions of the settlers and the places where they settled, and legal systems in the regions of settlement) result in different sets of challenges in researching and documenting family histories.

IMO, focused projects for specific groups of settlers are more likely to succeed than one broad "early settlers" project.
I've been thinking about this some more, and reflecting on other replies as well.   As mentioned by some, it might be too broad to consider a group of "Early Families of New England" since that would include so many, and thus make it difficult to manage and involve many sources.  In other words, even thought it's seems like a good idea, maybe it actually might be useful consider something more specific that be more manageable and helpful - maybe something like "Early Families of Plympton". For example, I have lots of ancestors (like Bryant and Churchill) from Plympton, with many of them buried in the "Old Burying Place" in Hillcrest Cemetery.  It also raises some other questions about inclusion criteria.  I wonder whether it would be based on whether they were born, lived, died, or buried there? For instance, many of my ancestors were born in Plymouth, Scituate, etc. but moved to Plympton and were buried there.  And what about someone born there who moved somewhere else?

Good questions, Doug.

Although the Founders of Hartford was not, I think, made a project, it was a strong interest group and their work has had lasting value. See my husband's ancestor Elizabeth (Stebbins-304) Day Holyoke for an example and her husband Robert Day for the reusable project images.

Working city by city would narrow the focus, and the sources needed.

I have been wrestling with a response, but it is more aimed at the eagerness and emphasis on applying PPP to profiles that permeates this discussion, rather than at the suggestion for an "Early New England Families" project which I think is a good 'umbrella' project with room for a number of sub-projects divided either temporally or geographically.

My comment regarding PPP:

I think PPP should almost always be based, at least in part, on being "historically significant" - which itself is an idea that should be clarified; While it is not definitive, I like the explanation and considerations given here: Determining Historical Significance.

I am leery of the criteria for PPP status of "very common ancestor" being used on its own, except in very exceptional circumstances - everyone (that has descendants) is potentially a "very common ancestor"; if every profile is a PPP (i.e. if this criteria is used too broadly) the significance of PPP is, to my mind, decreased.

I worry that PPP is sometimes valued more as a lock on a profile than as a key for collaboration.

Rob, I have to agree with you on that one.  While I like the idea of projects for collaboration, pooling resources, comradery ... I do not like the idea of "locking" profiles.  Thank you for the reminder.  (they can be scary)

My interest is in having (and giving) some help with some of these tough families. (actually for me, the most difficult are the ones wihout good references already written)  These are the families where we have to tweeze together will referneces with deeds and places, etc.  I keep coming back to Virginia.  It's such a challenge ... maybe too much of a challenge.  Maybe lack of a good already-written reference prohibits a project.  Can it be done without an official reference?

Does seem like if we want to put together "teams" the focus needs to be pretty narrow.  In a lot of places towns would work.  Do you think WikiTree is big enough now for town (or county) projecs?

(not sure any of this is helpful, feel free to ignore)
As I remember, Chris Whitten started the "Profile Lock" early in 2012. Its original purpose was to control the merging of profiles.  We had many duplicate profiles. I remember cleaning up a couple of horrible merges - son into father, brother into brother. The lock was supposed to control this some what. It was not intended to discourage collaboration. At present it should be put on the target profile of an individual in a project. It should be an aid to help the merging of the profile of an individual.

A more physical lock on a profile can be made by using privacy options, but this only applies to profiles less tan 200 years old.

I find it discouraging that well written and carefully sourced profiles can be wiped out by anyone who disagrees or who feels that his/her research is better than what is there.

 I know that this is a little off the subject of should there be a new project of early New England families.
I see no problems with extending the Puritan Migration Project to include one or two generations born in America.  Chances are those following generations felt a duality of both motherland and homeland.  And if we extended it to include two generations it would likely cover everyone born before 1700 anyway.


Regarding the profile locks - if some of these older profiles are locked so that only the managers can make the changes, and there are 3 or managers, I don't see a problem.  A manager can be contacted and approve of the change (as long as the manager is knowledgeable).  The problem I do see is when a well-wishing person starts editing profiles with data they saw somewhere on the net but never verified, thus un-doing hours of work by others.  I've had the pain of rebuilding much of a PMP profile that someone else had nearly destroyed using data that the page had already explained was invalid.  I feel that for quality control purposes, any profile that has importance, such as Puritan Migration or Mayflower profiles, should be protected from the well-intended but poorly researched edits.  My 2 cents.

Great community here.  Great feedback and discussion!
Hi Geoff, The only thing a PPP designation does is lock the last name at birth, so no one can merge the profile into a profile with the wrong name.  It isn't a true "lock" as profiles more that 200 years old have Open privacy.  This means that anyone can still edit them (or mess them up).  Having said that, sometimes the PPP will make people pause for a secdond before making changes.

Vic wrote, "sometimes the PPP will make people pause for a secdond before making changes."

The project status had that influence on me. As well, one of the profile managers (Roger Travis) encouraged me to propose the changes on G2G. It seemed a little awkward, but that is what I eventually did. I'm now ever thankful to Roger for his guidance. 

I like the idea of a project that would cover those known to have been at New England before 1700 but who are not known/shown to have been immigrants.
What does PPP stand for? Thanks
Hi Margie,

PPP = Project Protected Profile.

Read more here:

I like Geoff Grant's idea of extending the PGM project to cover one or two generations born in America.  The Puritans themselves did something sort of similar, the Half-Way Covenant -- see

"The Half-Way Covenant was a form of partial church membership created by New England in 1662.First-generation settlers were beginning to die out, while their children and grandchildren often expressed less religious piety, and more desire for material wealth.... In response, the Half-Way Covenant provided a partial church membership for the children and grandchildren of church members."

Thank you for the suggestion. I think the projects are most useful personally not because of PPP capacity but because they create community and encourage collaboration and resource sharing.  Some of the problems discussed could be addressed by enhancing the search and sort features of the database.

Why specifically New England 1700 and not a broader American Colonial period?  Should we try to do this colony by colony (as we have some direction that way already, i.e. Penn, New Netherland, Plymouth, etc)?

My family ended up in colonial New Jersey from PA, CT, MA, and NY, but no project really covers the region. Part of it belonged to Penn so I can tag them with that  project, but once they make it to NJ, I am on my own. I've been applying geographic categories to profiles to figure out populations but the geographic categories reflect current location rather than colony name at the time. New Jersey borders fluctuated frequently before statehood, so it's been challenging trying to conceptualize communities and migration patterns.
Hi John,

"extending the PGM project to cover..."

While I defer to others on how this comes together, have personally pondered this several times privately, only to reconsider.  Hoping only to be helpful, a thought or two follows.

Placing migration or identifying an immigrant--especially in the context of the family unit--seems particular work, extended by that which may confirm the immigrant's migration specifics, and then earlier life points. By comparison, what might be described as "proof of life" at New England would often carry less burden (documentation and reasoning).

The recent G2G posts about Richard Bishop (Bishop-179) might be an example. He was an immigrant and there were long held notions that his children were born at New England. Likely not until the careful Great Migration work was done did it become widely recognized that his children may have been born prior to Richard's migration. This has opened opportunities for those interested to seek records abroad about those children, which might provide insight into the immigrant's origin and ancestry.

At least it is my impression that countless success stories have followed reports about early New England settlers published in the Great Migration Study Project. Right or wrong, I attribute some of that success to the particular work about the immigrant brought to light by the study.
I like Heather's point that projects create community feeling.  And to answer GeneJ's thoughts, just brainstorming here but the immigrants could fit under the umbrella of a Puritan New England project, with people born in 17th-century New England getting a different template from the immigrants.

And to share my thought on Heather's question "Why specifically New England and not a broader American Colonial Period?"  New England has a homogenous population and a shared history with a compact immigration period that stops in the 1660s, and lots of records that make for well-filled family tree charts.  It's a natural unit.  All of the other colonies have very different histories and cultures and immigration patterns.
Like GeneJ's comments very much.

Regarding another project under the PGM umbrella-- the problem is that with each generation, one gets away from the "Puritan" piece of PGM. Already PGM is defined as people who emigrated to New England during the period called the Puritan Great Migration (whether or not the immigrants were strictly Puritan).

I could envision a project that is focused on post PGM, pre-Revolution folks, but I'm actually not sure what benefit identifying such folks would actually provide. The benefit of the PGM tag is that it helps people identify their "gateway" or emigrating ancestor to that particular geographic area and era (1620-1640). It also -- a lot of the time -- corrects previously incorrect information about the origins of our emigrating ancestors.

Just because we CAN have a project and tag profiles, doesn't mean we should. It's a LOT of work. We still have a LONG way to go to complete the PGM profiles (adding the Great Migration profile data, detaching unproven parents and drafting concise "disputed origins" sections, merge duplicates, cleaning up profiles, etc.)

So before you go starting a new project that might be equal or greater amount of work, be sure to articulate what benefit such a project would deliver.
Regarding an earlier discussion, yes the pre-1670 New England experience was a unique one.  But I also don't see any need to make additional projects, as Jilliane was saying.  After 2 or 3 generations, these Puritan Migration families had become very "American" to the point where they had handed various Indian conflicts and frontier expansions with little or no assistance from England.  The seeds of a coming Revolution were by then planted, and that Revolution centered around the same geography as the Puritans original settling points.

The Quakers are worthy of a project, if there isn't one yet (shame on me for focusing only on the ones I'm committed to).  Like the Puritans, they came over en mass for a period and originated from common geogrpahical areas.  And that seem to be early enough in the country's history to warrant attention.

There are so many interesting aspects of American history & genealogy, it's easy to create a bundle of small projects and clutter things up.  Perhaps as wikitree continues to grow we can create badges for various profiles that were founding fathers of certain cities.  Maybe limit to original cities in what later became states?  For example, I know there's a ton of info on Windsor, CT, which dates back to the early 1630's.  A historical society w/ a list of founders, ect.  Very easy to create a badge and pop it onto each founding father profile.  It would encourage folks to link to that profile in the future as well.

Just me thinking out loud....
Great idea.  Let's do it.  Count me in.  Thank you for doing this project.

6 Answers

+10 votes
I like the idea assuming these people are not covered under another project.
answered by Doug Lockwood G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)

Vic, it's a brilliant idea to cover the post - PGM'ers with protection from a project with the cut off date of 1700.

What would be  added to the main sources this potential project could use ( like the PGM uses) i.e.

What would the benefit of such a project be? What added value would it provide given the HUGE investment of time it would entail?
Hi Jillaine,

I was reminded recently of one benefit--the ability to protect a early New England woman's Last Name at Birth (LNAB) as "Unknown."

As is the case with many immigrants, the ancestry of one man's wife isn't known, and it isn't otherwise known if she was an immigrant.  In other words, her Last Name At Birth (LNAB) is not protected.

For many reasons, early women whose LNAB is unknown often appear in family files with different surnames. (Sometimes more than one surname in the same family file.) Thus whether by data entry or GEDCOM upload, "duplicate" profiles will often be created that report different surnames.

Once we go through the process of determining a woman's LNAB is unknown via collaboration, it would be nice to preseve that profile ID until new and/or clarifying information is found.

Hope this helps.


There's a little known secret: you can project-protect a profile that is not yet part of a project. 

"Protected profiles must fit into a current or future project."


+4 votes

Hi Vic!  

Your question made me get busy on a list of known Smith early immigrants and Earliest Known Ancestors.  I have attached it to the Smith One Name Study by way of the DNA Project Space.  I am still working on it, trying to link each person to their WikiTree profile ID number.  Some do not have WikiTree profiles yet, but I think most do.

If you are working on Smiths, please consult the list to see if your early ancestor already has a WikiTree profile.  I hope this will help limit the duplicates for these earliest known ancestors.    

answered by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (459k points)
+4 votes
Great idea, Vic. There are many early immigrant families that came after the Puritan migration, or weren't Puritan's. Many of the children of the Puritan's, born here, made significant contributions to the early New England history. I have a large number of ancestors who would fall into an Early Settlers project.
answered by Bob Keniston G2G6 Pilot (163k points)
By the way there already is a Category (if not a project) for tagging immigrants.
+8 votes
So after reading comments about narrowing the focus, I wonder whether Early American Families might do better as a whole category, with subsets for different areas, and these subsets could become projects as needed.

Maybe a category for Early American Families, with a subcategory for Massachusetts or New England, and possibly even a sub-subcategory like the Connecticut River.

Then New Netherlands, which is already happening, would fit right in.
answered by Carole Partridge G2G6 Mach 6 (69.3k points)
Carole, I was just drafting a note to the same effect.  Having a master category of, say, "Born in Amerca before --- (1700/1750?)", with sub categories for different states, then smaller categories for specific places might work.  That would allow people to add resources for specific places to the sub category or subsub category pages. We already have categories for most of the New England towns, so I don't know how it would fit together.

The one thing that a Category wouldn't do is allow PPP protection, which was the main reasons I made the initial proposal.
The PPP part is really important for some of these families.

Could projects be made from state categories? For example, a project that includes the subcategories for Massachusetts and Connecticut?
+5 votes
Something a few projects have been doing is setting up subprojects to narrow focus and to call attention to special interests. The Canadian History project and Global Cemeteries have been using subprojects to separate regions of interest, and the Australia project has been doing it for population groups and notable people. The wonderful thing about subprojects is that the work can be led by any WikiTree member with the help of the project leader, and subprojects can be opened as there is interest in them. With a subproject, members who are only interested in that portion don't need to follow the glut of information a full project with a large scope could produce.

An Early American Settlers project could be the umbrella project for subprojects for different colonies and cities.
answered by Erin Breen G2G6 Pilot (220k points)
Except... Early American Settlers does not fit for anyone born on current USAmerican soil. Sibce USA did not exist prior to 1776/7.
The umbrella project idea makes a lot of sense to me.
It would need to be an umbrella for different Continents/countries... i.e. North America, South America and Central America... since we already established in previous discussions... an American could be from any of these other continents.. I'm just trying to keep us consistent with previous decisiins already decided.
+4 votes
I hate to be the wet blanket here but I don't really find value in all the dividing and subdividing.. I would end up belonging to most projects. My family arrived on the Mayflower, migrated in constantly over the next century, came to Virginia before New England, had children here, had children back in the old country that came over later, had children that stayed in the old country, had children that went back, some immigrants that went back, fought on both sides of every war., moved to Canada, moved from Canada and on and on.  

I find Wikitree a confusing enough system as it is.
answered by Christopher Wright G2G3 (3.3k points)

There needs to be an understanding regarding the differences between the "PURITANS" and the "PILGRIMS" (or "SEPARATISTS).  Mayflower people were PILGRIMS (OR SEPARATISTS) an entirely separate group from the Puritans.

Of course, if you want to rewrite history in your own image, I have no control over that.  However, it DOES make a difference.  It's like saying "Catholics are Protestants".  

True enough but the same reasoning applies. I have plenty of hero's and plenty of rogues. Do we now also separate by choice of religion or politics as well as location, timing and movement? We could move to gender and national origin. The problem with reductionism is that it never ends and we arrive at the confustion of too many choices.
Yes, very good point.  I was y confused when I first connected with Resolved White ancestor and had to do a lot of research to Learn, then determine these distinctions.  We need to know this info. PLEASE.
Note: The people who migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration weren't necessarily Puritans. What I find interesting about the PGM is that about 20,000 arrived in New England over a period of about 20 years, then the "increased and multiplied" over several generations during which they weren't joined by very many new immigrants. I assume that the PGM project was created because so many New England family histories trace to a relatively small number of individual people who arrived during that period -- and that makes it particularly important to do a good job nailing down those people's biographies.

Most of my New England ancestry is traceable to  the PGM. I know of just a few immigrant ancestors who arrived later in the 17th century or early in the 18th century. The 18th century migrants were Ulster Scots -- another group that probably deserves to be the basis for a project (but not restricted to New England).

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