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.

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
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)
  • Unsourced Oct/Nov 2017
  • Grandparents Sept 2016
  • Great Great Grandparents Jul/Aug 2017
  • People from one town. (one place studies)


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.

Images: 6

Biography Builder
Biography Builder

Fountain Pen
Fountain Pen

Quill Pot
Quill Pot

Quill Pot Colored
Quill Pot Colored

view all


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 Iain Old 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 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.

more comments