Biography Builders

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Categories: Profile Improvement Project | Biography Builders.


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.

The List

Data Section.

birth date/place
names of parents
marriage date/place and spouse name
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

  • People born in the 1800's (June 2016)
  • People born in 1700's May/Jun 2017
  • People born in 1600's
  • People born in 1900's
  • Alphabetical given/surnames
  • School masters/mistresses/teachers
  • The Great Depression era
  • Families with 10+ children
  • Various specific occupations
  • Veterans from specific conflicts
  • People who never married
  • Immigrants
  • specific relatives, i.e. your third great grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.
  • specific categories
  • specific G2G tags to make profiles for answers to questions
  • Needs Bio category
  • People with an unknown parent
  • For month of February, people who have same last name as any president.
  • For March - Women who've made a mark in history Feb/Mar 2017 Link to Question
  • For month of May - Any mother Apr/May 2017 Mothers
  • For month of June - Any father Jun/July 2017 Fathers
  • People with a Specific Occupation: Miner, Farmer, fisherman, welder, etc.
  • People whose name is an occupation: Farmer, Fisher, etc
  • Names that have a 'son': Johnson, Anderson, Myerson.
  • Pick someone/s who was born in the same place as you (could be town, city, state/county, or country) and write their biography. Might be interesting to compare their life with yours, what has changed and what is the same?
  • Colors; White, Brown, Black, Green(e), Gray/Grey, Gold etc.
  • Profiles in certain projects
  • Holiday Inspired themes
  • People with multiple births in the family. Twins. Triplets,etc. First sets if triplets and above in a county or city.
  • Maybe use this project to highlight the great work being done in some other WikiTree projects? I was thinking of:
    • People who should be added to WikiTree's Roll of Honor
    • People who are adopted, or who have adopted children (doesn't directly fit with the Adoption Angels, but we could still bring attention to that project)
    • People who are in (or could be added to) an existing One Name Study
    • Profiles that include DNA research
    • People who have an interesting tombstone or story related to their death or burial (tie in with the Global Cemeteries project)
    • People who are Notables, or who were named after a Notable
    • People who emigrated from/immigrated to another country (not a project, but the Immigration category has a template that we could advertise, and we could document these stories)
  • People born and/or died in a specific month
  • Source-a-thon sourced profiles (Oct/Nov 2016)
  • Grandparents Sept 2016
  • Great Great Grandparents Jul/Aug 2017


See our Google Sheet for participant data and totals.

Achievement Templates

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.

Images: 5

Biography Builder
Biography Builder

Fountain Pen
Fountain Pen

Quill Pot
Quill Pot

Quill Pot Colored
Quill Pot Colored

  • Login to request to the join the Trusted List so that you can edit and add images.
  • Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Abby Glann 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 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 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!