England Orphan Trail Team

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England Project | England Orphan Trail Team

Welcome to the England Orphan Trail Team Page

So you are thinking about joining the England Project... that's good news!

Project Coordinator: Michael Christmas

Trailblazers: Heather Brannon | Michael Christmas | Chris Colwell | Brad Cunningham | Nic Donnelly | Sally Douglas | Jo Fitz-Henry | Leandra Ford | Hilary Gadsby | Pamela Lohbeck | Elaine Mattsen |Paul Shepard | Ian Speed | Stephen Trueblood | Elizabeth Viney | Joan Whitaker


What's the Orphan Trail all about?

The England Project Orphan Trail (the OT) is your mandatory first team when you join the England Project.

  • The OT is a short course showing you how to find and use English sources, and also create a nice looking Wikitree profile using formatting and inline sources.
  • The OT is mainly self directed, but you are assigned a Trailblazer (your guide through the OT) to help you with the tricky bits. Your Trailblazer will advise you on ways you can improve the look of the finished profile as well as guide you on places to look for sources. Trailblazers are members of the England Project with an aptitude for teaching and have been through the OT themselves.
  • You are provided with the resources to source and improve a set of profiles ranging back to 1700.
  • We use English orphaned profiles to work on and improve, hence "the Orphan Trail"
  • During the time you are on the OT, we get to know more about you and your interests. It gives us an idea of which team in the England Project may be the best fit for you when you finish.

Our mutual expectations and commitments

  • The OT is not optional - if you sign up for the England Project, you commit to completing the OT. Apart from improving your profile development, it also shows a level of commitment to be active in the England Project afterwards.
  • Sometimes we have an influx of new applicants for the England Project and we have to operate a waiting list. We will let you know when you can start.
  • It's not open ended - if you are offered a place on the OT, we expect you to be able to start straight away and finish it in under a month. This keeps the waiting list down.
  • We will pair you up with a Trailblazer who will help you if you get stuck and give advice.
  • We expect you to keep in communication with your Trailblazer and to accept their advice.
  • Your Trailblazer will do their best to help you with your work on the OT. If you and they agree that you need more intensive help with the basics of Wikitree, help from a Mentor may be more appropriate
  • If you stop working on your OT profiles without good reason, you may be removed from the OT and have to give up your England Project badge.
  • Your Trailblazer will not be researching your English ancestors for you - the OT is there to empower you to do that, and also improve the countless English profiles that will need your love when you get active in the England Project!

The Orphan Trail has three components

Orphan Trail part one (OT1) covers profile building and sourcing from 1700 - 1957. This is the part that is mandatory for England Project membership.

  • You will learn about the more recent English sources and how to use them, as well as the skills of profile building.
  • After you have completed OT1, you have finished the mandatory part of the Trail! Congratulations! You will get your OT1 graduation sticker to put on your profile and you will join one of the other England Project teams.
  • You and your Trailblazer will decide which team is the best fit for you to start with. You may find that as your interests change over time, so will your team membership.
  • Some people choose to finish the Orphan Trail at this stage. If you are not going to be working on pre-1700 profiles, then it's a great place to stop and use your new found skills in your own family profiles and in your England Project team.
  • If you find later that you do want to continue onto OT2, then talk to your Trailblazer.

Orphan Trail part two (OT2) covers profile building and sourcing from 1500-1700.

  • If you wish to extend your learning about earlier English sources, you may wish to join OT2.
  • Not everyone will want to take this part of the Trail and some people may need to gain more experience with sourcing and profile writing before starting OT2.
  • You and your Trailblazer will discuss whether OT2 is necessary for the sort of English profiles you are working on within your own family or project.
  • We prefer that you spend a few months working within a England Project team consolidating what you have learned before undertaking OT2.

Orphan Trail part three (OT3) is the final section and covers Pre-1500 Prep

  • This is an important stepping stone towards gaining pre-1500 certification. Not everyone who has completed OT2 will need or want to join OT3.
  • Your Trailblazer will guide you in suggesting areas for gaining further experience and advise if and when you are ready for OT3.

How it all works...

The Orphan Trail is very popular and we often have a waiting list to get started. You must undertake to complete the Orphan Trail BEFORE substantially working on your own English profiles, in order to progress through as swiftly as possible. If now is not the right time for you to start the OT, please return at a later date rather than start something you may not finish.

1. Post an answer to the England Project Joining post in G2G. Our England Project Membership coordinator will contact you.

2. Once you join the OT you will be asked to select a profile to work on. After you reply to the OT team with the name and Wikitree ID of your chosen profile (just the one!) you will be allocated your Trailblazer to work with. You must select this initial profile and respond to the OT team within a week, otherwise your place will be offered to someone else.

3. We will set up your "Trail Log", a Wikitree personal Free Space Page (FSP) for you, You can use this to keep records of your Trail along with any notes and links to anything that you found helpful. You can continue using this when you have finished OT1 , or if you continue onto the other stages. Only you, your Trailblazer and the OT Team Leadership will have access to this page.

4. You will work on your chosen profile, using only the sources listed for that time period. You will use the Orphan Trail Resources pages (see the links at the foot of the page). If you get stuck - ask your Trailblazer! If there is no Trailblazer to work with you initially, we encourage you to start working on your first profile using the resource pages provided.

5. When you have finished improving the profile, your Trailblazer will review it for factual accuracy and formatting. They may suggest edits or alternative presentation styles. They will help you make the best of what information you can find. When the Trailblazer is happy with the profile you will be asked to choose another. Remember that your Trailblazer will be teaching the Wikitree way of doing things. You may have learned different and perhaps equally valid practices elsewhere but we aim for a consistent approach.

6. You will work on up to six profiles during the Orphan Trail part one (three in the 1838-1957 period, three in the 1700-1837 period). When your Trailblazer is satisfied that you have achieved the skills required for improving post-1700 profiles you will be awarded your OT1 sticker to put on your profile. You and your Trailblazer will discuss which England Project team you will join and your graduation will be announced in the England Google group.

Follow the links to your current stage of the Orphan Trail

England Project | England Orphaned Profiles Team

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England Orphans
England Orphans

Comments: 42

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sounds very interesting project and would love to join and help if I can

Steve Davies

posted by Stephen Davies
You need to reply to this post Steve. https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/997231/do-you-want-to-become-an-england-project-member-in-2020

It would be great if you came and joined us.


This sounds very exciting. I'm anxious to learn new skills and would like to be considered as a member of your team.

Valerie Graham Dall'Armi

I would like to join this project.

Thank you,

Laura Enomoto

posted by Laura Enomoto
I can't wait to get started and learn new ways to look for information.

Thank you so much for including me!

posted by [Living Baker]
I just hope my 81-year-old brain can cope. When you get older your learning curve flattens out, I am almost flat-lining. However, I have been' injected' with a little enthusiasm now and will try as much as I can for the good of this project.

Thank you for including me.

posted by [Living Rake]
I am very interested in the process to learn all of this. Eager to see my email.
posted by Janice Anderson
Hi Janice!

I sent you a PM earlier today, you may want to check your spam folder ? (WikiTree emails can be quirky!)

Let me know if you haven't received anything, and I will be happy to re-send :)


Fran :)

I would like to join the Orphan Trail please.
posted by Leandra Ford
I am interested in learning better ways, so please send me an email
posted by Brian Shearer
Congratulations Elaine! Welcome! Hurrah for a job well done! Sincerely, Carol Baldwin
posted by Carol Baldwin PhD, RN
I have just learnt so much on the Orphan's trail and Mike has helped me along the way with excellent patience and encouragement. I was just so lucky to have been part of this enjoyable learning experience and will continue to improve my profiles.
Thank you Mike Christmas for your very helpful comments and assistance with my profile. Your time is much appreciated and I enjoyed carrying out the research. Now know my own files need a bit of tidying up
Have to thank Joan Whitaker for encouraging and informing me and asking me to think about joining this project (Orphan's Trail) and I now have my profile and getting ready to start. Had a warm welcome from members and really appreciate it.
I want to join the Orphan Team project. I am completely hopelessly stuck on Samuel Hirons (Hirons-758). I cannot find ANY INFO AT ALL on him or his family anywhere! It is very frustrating. I need help.
posted by [Living Spencer]
Hi. . .its about time I did this . . .so please add me

Thanks Geoff

posted by Geoff Rice
hi i would like to be emailed to start the orphan trial please
posted by Cody Leigh
I'm interested in joining this please As a dyslexic I find formatting etc more difficult + I'm very slow.

Family both sides came from Ireland + then settled in or close to Manchester so that would be where my interests would lie or Cheshire where I now live

I didn't realise that we could make up information about people ie the profile of Anne Elizabeth Mears formerly Mason as although these were historic events we don't know how she was personally involved?

posted by Anon Cormack
Is there a way to bookmark this page to make it easier to find?
posted by Lois (Hacker) Tilton
This Orphan Profiles Team training is a God send! I have joined 3 country groups and feel like I am in over my head. I am excited to do the trail and hopefully become useful.


Willing to have a go but not comfortable with new things and so takes time for me to settle into doing something
posted by Becky (Harrop) Johnson
Hi Fran,

Think I saw something about this on the England page when I was very new to Wikitree. Oh well better late than never! Looking forward to the experience. Heather