Biography Builders

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Biography Builders

It is easy to get in a groove creating profiles, tracing ancestries, adding sources, and making connections on WikiTree, and in that groove, forget to build a profile to its fullest. Many profiles on WikiTree, even from our best members, have sources but no substance-what do those sources tell us? What has your research revealed? Who was this person? That's what the biography section is for and this challenge is a personal growth challenge to encourage members to create biographies for the profiles they work on, not just find connections and sources.

Each month, we'll set a theme to the challenge, asking participants to create biographies for different people in their family tree or from certain projects and categories.

Those who participate can challenge themselves to do a little more on each profile by working through our checklist of what makes a profile "complete." We know no person will ever be completely researched, and so no profile will ever be completely done, but there are certain points in building a profile where you hit logical stopping points and can "call it" at least for awhile. Each time you do this, you can share that profile in that month's thread as an example for the community as well as have a chance to get thoughtful feedback on other things that might make nice additions.

Each time you hit a milestone in your participation you'll get a template for your profile to show others you've been making WikiTree a better place to share family history. The first template is placed when you've completed 10 profiles for Bio-Builder challenges. The numbers are cumulative, so it could be the first month you participate that you hit that mark, or it could be 5 months later. It's up to you.

How to Join

  • Check the G2G post to determine the current theme (see list in upper right side of page)
  • Write a biography (or several) that fit the theme
  • Answer the G2G post and create a list of the profiles you worked on
  • Add biobuilders to your tags
  • (optional) Join the Profile Improvement Project

The List

Data Section.

birth date/place
names of parents
marriage date/place and spouse name
names of children, if any
death date/place

Biography Section:

  • Written sentences stating the facts above, adding inline sources to each fact.
  • As a general rule, biographies should be in your own words. Paraphrase and rewrite, don't copy/paste.
  • Is the profile Genealogically Defined?
  • Baptism, burial, military, and other life events with inline sources.
  • Something to "humanize" the person, such as career or avocation with sources.
  • List of children with at least one pertinent fact.
  • Explanatory remarks, if needed (i.e. Disputed persons sections, Research Notes, whatever needs extra explaining).
  • Photos or pictures. Not a must, but nice (you own the copyright, or photos must be in the public domain).
  • Categories.
  • Connection to the Global Tree.
  • All duplicates merged or initiated.
  • Links to persons and events, perhaps from Wikipedia.
  • Historical context as related to the person's life.
  • Sources, Sources, Sources.

Places you might look for information

Family Search; Find-a-grave;; google search for the person and their spouse together; look for a genealogy on the family; check for a town or county history to see if the person is mentioned; from the profile ID drop down menu use "Research"; if you have subscriptions to pay sites check those; check for printed ancient town records in the place where the subject lived. Of course if they are related to you, you may have even better information, like birth, death, probate, land, bible records etc.

Monthly Themes


See our Google Sheet for participant data and totals.

Achievement "Stickers"

Fountain Pen
... has written and improved ten profiles for the Biography Builders Challenge.
Fountain Pen
... has written and improved fifty profiles for the Biography Builders Challenge.
Fountain Pen
... has written and improved one hundred profiles for the Biography Builders Challenge.
Fountain Pen
... has written and improved 200 profiles for the Biography Builders Challenge.
Fountain Pen
... has written and improved 300 profiles for the Biography Builders Challenge.
Fountain Pen
... has written and improved 400 profiles for the Biography Builders Challenge.
Fountain Pen
... has written and improved 500 profiles for the Biography Builders Challenge and is now a Master Builder.

Images: 6

Biography Builder
Biography Builder

Fountain Pen
Fountain Pen

Quill Pot
Quill Pot

Quill Pot Colored
Quill Pot Colored

view all

  • Login to request to the join the Trusted List so that you can edit and add images.
  • Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Bob Keniston and Anne B. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)
  • Public Q&A: These will appear above and in the Genealogist-to-Genealogist (G2G) Forum. (Best for anything directed to the wider genealogy community.)

On 20 May 2019 at 17:39 GMT Candyce (Wright) Fulford wrote:

Will there be a Biography Builder Challenge for June 2019? Or is this a continuous Challenge?

On 2 May 2019 at 17:16 GMT Janet (Langridge) Wild wrote:

Hi Guys can we please have the g2 g post added to this page again


On 13 Mar 2019 at 17:56 GMT SJ Baty wrote:

Does the profile have to be genealogically defined? or is it something we strive for but its OK to include a profile if there are no parent records? I ask because I have some profiles that I'd like to build up and make great bios for but no parent records exist. Thanks.

On 22 Jan 2019 at 10:39 GMT Janet (Langridge) Wild wrote:

Hi Ann and Bob

A fellow member of the England team made a fab comment and I thought I would share it with you.

"...crafting a biography with enough colour that someone will enjoy reading it and picking away at knots and tangles till I make some progress" "Quote by Wikitree Volunteer Stephen Trueblood 2019"

Needless to say I have directed Stephen towards this wonderful team

All the Best Janet

On 14 Oct 2018 at 11:28 GMT Pare (Howie) Hayward-Howie wrote:

Can I join please.

On 28 Aug 2018 at 12:26 GMT Brian Lamothe wrote:

Can I make a theme recommendation? I'd like to see "ancestor-tangent" profiles, i.e. non-relatives who are mentioned in the same records as ancestors, such as boarders in the same census household, other people mentioned in a newspaper article, godparents from a baptism record, etc. Their profiles can be created if necessary, connected to the world tree if possible, and cross-linked with the ancestor's profile.

On 26 Apr 2018 at 16:37 GMT Robin Kabrich wrote:

I am already a member of the Profile Improvement Project. Lately, I have been taking the time to include biographies on any profile that I research (related or not, but mostly related). Am I, or can I, be part of Biography Builders without necessarily participating in any particular theme? I have trouble enough keeping track of where I am without another distraction (like finding profiles that fit the theme - you should see my "to do" lists! LOL).

On 20 Dec 2017 at 16:05 GMT Anonymous Mecum wrote:

Please don't do anything to any page that was created by CarolynMMP. I have had to correct so many things that people who know nothing about my family, have "helped" with, that honestly I am ready to go back and find a way to fix things so that all of the profiles that I have created give no information at all. I put my family tree on WikiTree because I have an extensive one on ancestry and I wanted to share it with people who don't have ancestry accounts. Especially one family in particular. But it has been so frustrating because people just won't leave things alone!!

On 17 Nov 2017 at 02:48 GMT Emma (McBeth) MacBeath M.Ed MSM wrote:

Is there no Nov/Dec bio builder challenge? I keep checking G2G.

Edit: When I put Biography Builders into the G2G search the new challenge isn't coming up. But I see it linked here.

On 21 Oct 2017 at 22:19 GMT Raewyn Vincent wrote:

I'd like to join this particularly because I see a lot of empty or dumped profiles that could seriously use some TLC. These profiles all represent people who lived. In the real world, we often leave a headstone as the final mark on a person's life. Here we have the opportunity to do so much more.

On 11 Oct 2017 at 04:08 GMT Naomi Patrick wrote:

I'd like to join this project. It's my weakest area in developing ancestor profiles.

On 9 Oct 2017 at 17:51 GMT Kelley Harrell wrote:

I'd like to join this project.

On 6 Oct 2017 at 16:02 GMT Loretta (Babb) Heusser wrote:

How do I join this project?

On 3 Oct 2017 at 17:12 GMT Belinda (Howe) Pereira wrote:

I would like to join.

On 23 Sep 2017 at 15:33 GMT I (Old) O wrote:


I would be interesting in joining. I am already adding biographies wherever possible - eg the one I am currently working on is Smith-121892

On 27 Aug 2017 at 23:35 GMT Anne (Turner) Tichborne wrote:

I'd like to join because writing a good narrative is my thing. I've already done a few profiles that meet these criteria and now I'm working on a project about Early Settlers of Kangaroo Island where I intend to do lots more. I'm a "words person". If anyone needs help on how to word something, just ask.

On 8 Apr 2017 at 19:28 GMT Jeffrey Martin wrote:

Sign me up to be a bio-builder! Filling in the stories of our ancestors is the most important part of genealogy! Must say I've spent considerable time trying to fix the jumble of gedcom data (?lack of data) I find on some profiles.

On 22 Feb 2017 at 18:54 GMT David Peter PhD wrote:

How can I become a bio-builder?

On 16 Dec 2016 at 07:20 GMT Campbell Braddock wrote:

For the list of Participants Requires permission to access the Google drive.

See our Google Sheet for participant data and totals.

On 21 Sep 2016 at 11:31 GMT Debi (Moseley) Matlack wrote:

I so need the guidance and motivation from this group. Even family members that I know a good bit about have only the most basic of biographies.

On 17 Sep 2016 at 14:19 GMT Mary Richardson wrote:

Hi I want to join this group. I researching and love writing profiles of anyone. Example:

Defenders in the Battle of the Alamo. Some were already done. I am Richardson-7161.

On 17 Aug 2016 at 19:27 GMT Summer (Binkley) Orman wrote:

Yeah, I understand that. It just seems like it would be better to have some other way to search than by just name...and 600 is a lot in one category!!

On 17 Aug 2016 at 12:14 GMT Anne B wrote:

Oh dear, the scary part of Summer's question is that there are that many profiles in the needs bio category (but still under 600). And it's a good idea for a challenge. But I'm not sure the needs bio category really needs to be broken into smaller pieces yet.

On 17 Aug 2016 at 05:32 GMT Summer (Binkley) Orman wrote:

Question for the leaders of this awesome project: In the Needs Bio category - do you think it would be helpful to further categorize those by state and/or country? I'm just thinking that could be another challenge...bios for everyone in a certain state...maybe a template like the {Unsourced|Texas} but maybe {Bio|Texas}, and it goes into the Needs Bio for Texas?....just an idea....if you guys like it but need help creating those categories, and migrating the current ones to those categories, you know where to find me. I'm more than happy to help.

On 13 Jun 2016 at 23:36 GMT Summer (Binkley) Orman wrote:

How about I agree to work on this after June? I've already gotten involved in the sourcerer challenge for this month, for the first time....and I'm quite liking it! Though, if you made a GEDCOM cleanup team, I'd be the one to blaze the trail on that one....i HATE those things.

On 12 Jun 2016 at 14:37 GMT Summer (Binkley) Orman wrote:

I want to do this!! I'm a biography builder to the nth degree!