PGM Editing Guidance

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PGM Editing Guidance

Release 1.1: This document was last edited 26 Jan 2022

The purpose of this document is to realize the project's mission by providing researchers with the necessary skills to meet the project's goals and objectives.

The mission of the PGM Project is to be a knowledge center of accurate information about the colonists who arrived in New England between 1621 and 1640, sharing that knowledge through the creation and maintenance of profiles for those colonists.

As stated in PGM's Project Goals and Objectives, some of the aims of the project are that:

  1. Every individual profiled in Anderson’s Great Migration series will have a complete and accurate profile on WikiTree with proper source citations to Anderson's work for that individual including the name of the work, volume number, and page/s.
  2. The minimum information each profile should contain to be considered complete is the following: name at birth, immigration date, birth/baptism date and place, parents' names, death/burial date and place, marriage (spouse/s, dates, locations), and children. See PGM Profile Review Check-List for more information.
  3. When research on any of the criteria for minimum completeness (as listed in item 2 above) has been conducted, yet no information is found, it is suggested that the information not found be briefly noted in a Research Notes section. (For example: Based on research conducted on 14-15 Jan 2022, no data can be found concerning her last name at birth, parents, and neither birth nor death dates or places.)
  4. All information about an individual should be supported by evidence from high quality, nonspeculative, reliable sources which are sourced as inline citations, known as inline references or footnotes (using an inline reference in the body of the text creates a footnote at the bottom of the page under the Sources section). See Puritan Great Migration Project Reliable Sources for reliable sources and WT's Help:Sources – embed them as references (footnotes) information.
  5. Ideally, the original sources cited in Anderson's work should be directly consulted, used and cited (e.g. Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, 1628-1686, 1:350...). Where it is impossible for the researcher to consult the original material, information may be extracted directly from Anderson's work and cited as such (e.g. Anderson, citing MBCR 1:350...).
  6. People not profiled in Anderson's work, but who are proven to have immigrated to America from 1621-1640, will be included as they are identified through quality research in high quality, nonspeculative, reliable sources, such as those listed on the Puritan Great Migration Project Reliable Sources page.
  7. Speculation concerning an individual may be provided in a Research Notes section and should be clearly labeled as such, including relevant sources and a logical, well-reasoned explanation for the speculation.
  8. Copying and pasting is prohibited and will be removed.

There are three main areas that collaborators can work in which the remainder of this document covers, to help meet the goals and objectives:

  1. Merge Duplicates.
  2. Add or correct Data fields, making sure that data fields and biographies match each other.
  3. Make sure biographies and data fields match each other and that the data from both are proven through the most accurate, high quality, nonspeculative, reliable sources possible.

Merging Duplicates

Please review WikiTree's Help: Duplicates and Help: Merging pages for more information regarding merging duplicates.

Project members working from Anderson's Great Migration series often find it necessary to merge duplicates of the immigrating ancestor, his or her spouse, their children (sometimes), and anyone "up the line" (parents, grandparents, etc.). Please merge duplicate profiles "down the line" (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.) as well. Even just cleaning up your own line of descent from your own ancestor(s) is helpful!

When proposing a merge, always make sure that it will go in the correct direction and, if two names are involved, or the same name spelled differently, request that PPP be placed on the target profile.

After merging profiles, please clean the profile's biography and sources by retaining the most accurate, reliable sources. Merged profiles often contain GEDCOM 'garbage' and the WikiTree Help: GEDCOM-Created Biographies can provide guidance in that area.

Profile Editing Guidance

Data Fields

The information found in data fields should match the information found in the biography, which should be proven using quality, reliable sources. The following may help answer some questions concerning data fields.

Last Name at Birth (LNAB)

Especially on these older profiles, determining LNAB can be challenging due to spelling variations even during a person's lifetime. Remember that on Wikitree, we use their conventions not ours; in general, we use the spelling as it was at the time of the person's birth. How do we find this?

General WikiTree guidelines for spelling conventions include:

  • If there are any contemporary written documents, the spelling from those documents should be used. In particular, the spelling that appears in a birth record should be used for the Last Name at Birth unless there are other documents from, at, or near the time of birth that inform us about a more common or correct spelling.
  • The spelling used by descendants is not relevant unless there are no contemporary written documents.

PGM adds the following:

  • First look for actual parish baptism/birth records (preferably images, but when lacking images, reliable quality transcriptions of records can be used. Hereafter called “records”.) However, “other documents from, at, or near the time of birth that inform us about a more common or correct spelling” can also be used. Examples: a parents marriage “record,” a more frequent spelling used on baptism/birth “records” for other siblings, or town and colony "records."
  • If neither contemporary images or transcriptions are found, the PGM project follows the last name used by Anderson in the Great Migration Series or a later peer-reviewed source such as NEHGS or TAG.
  • In the absence of both, birth contemporary “records” and an Anderson article, use the spelling on a document from later in the person's life in which the party signed his/her name, such as a deed or will. If the person only signed by mark, use the most commonly documented spelling as found in deeds, wills, town records etc.

Other Last Names (OLN)

PGM does NOT include wrong surnames in the Other Last Names data field. OLN is reserved for legitimate aliases or alternative spellings.

Sometimes WikiTree genealogists want to list wrong surnames in the OLN field so the name will show up in the search engine, hoping to slow down creation of duplicate profiles. PGM has decided not to follow this practice.

The pros and cons of OLN usage has been fully discussed within the project and the conclusion has been drawn that adding inaccurate information to the data field is counterproductive to the project.


See the following WikiTree guidance on Prefixes: Prefix


See the following WikiTree guidance on Prefixes: Suffix


If the exact year of an event is known (but the day or month are not known) the date is still marked as "exact."

The marriage end date field is only used in cases where an end date can be clearly documented, such as by divorce or a known date of death.

Location Names

We use contemporaneous place names for birth, death and marriage date fields. Here is a list of the Colonies/Provinces that were applicable for PGM immigrants:

  • Plymouth Colony: 1620 - 1690; after that, part of Province of Massachusetts Bay
  • Massachusetts Bay Colony: 1628 - 1690; after that, part of Province of Massachusetts Bay
  • Province of Massachusetts Bay: 1691 - 1776
  • Connecticut Colony: 1636 - 1776
  • Saybrook Colony: 1635 - 1644; after that, part of Connecticut Colony
  • New Haven Colony: 1637 - 1662; after that, part of Connecticut Colony
  • Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations: 1636 - 1776
  • Province of New Hampshire: 1629 - 1776
  • Province of Maine: 1622 - 1652
  • Maine is part of Massachusetts Bay Colony: 1652-1690
  • Maine is part of Province of Massachusetts Bay: 1691-1776
  • Maine is District of Maine, Massachusetts: 1776-1820
  • Maine is the state of Maine after 1820
  • Province of New York: 1664 - 1776

Biography Section

Make sure biographies and data fields match each other and that the data from both are proven through the most accurate, high quality, nonspeculative, reliable sources possible. Data fields rely on well researched and properly sourced biographies so they can contain the most accurate information possible.

Narrative Guidance

As per the project's goals and objectives, "The minimum information each profile should contain to be considered complete is the following: name at birth, immigration date, birth/baptism date and place, parents' names, death/burial date and place, marriage (spouse/s, dates, locations), and children."

However, recognizing that not all members of this project have the same level of interest or availability, any work that gets closer to the project's goals and objectives, but doesn't quite meet them, is still helpful and appreciated. To that end, the following are guidelines to help each research get closer.

A profile that is easily readable, devoid of duplicative data and useless information (such as REF ID numbers generated by uploaded GEDCOMs), and conveys a brief chronological history of the individual is desired. Suggested subheadings include:

  • Disputed Origins
  • Biography
  • List of children
  • Last will and testament

Disputed Origins (or Spouse, or Relations, etc.)

For data and conclusions not supported by Anderson's Great Migration series (or a later approved source), it is the policy of the Puritan Great Migration project to:

  • Detach the disputed relatives from the profile.
  • Add a == Disputed (Origins or Spouse) == section at the top of each affected profile.
    • Summarize the issue. If a lengthy, detailed section is needed, place the details under "Research Notes" near the bottom of the profile (above Sources), or alternatively, within the biography itself.
    • Wikilink to the disputed relatives' profiles within the text.
    • Provide inline references (footnotes) and additional sources to relevant research.
    • Link any related G2G question(s) within the text (sometimes the automatic link becomes lost when profiles are merged).

Here's an example.



Stickers belong immediately below the Biography heading. PGM project follows the Sticker Help Guidelines found here.

Any Sticker that is redundant is subject to being removed by the profile managers and/or PGM project members. In particular, Immigration Stickers are considered redundant (a duplication of the Puritan Great Migration project box) and will be deleted.

Biography text

This section describes the life of the person. The biography is typically organized in a narrative style and in a chronological manner. Bullet points included in the narrative are acceptable.

If you find "copy/pastes" of multiple paragraphs of text -- whether it's from copyrighted work (like Anderson's Great Migration series), or even public-domain text (such as late 19th century genealogies freely available via Google docs or some other online archive) -- please replace such text with a summary of key points and link to the source where you can. Short quotes are fine; just be sure to add an inline reference (footnote), referencing the original. Read more about Wikitree's policy on Copying Text.

Old Style/New Style - Double Dating On WikiTree, as well as in the PGM project, we use the practice of double dating where both the old style and the new style year are given in a document. The new style (larger number) date is recorded in the data field of a profile and the double date is provided in the narrative biography.

Here's an example Note the death date.

Broadly speaking, double-dating ceased January 1, 1752; subsequent to that date, January 1 was recognized as the beginning of a new year.

For a full historical discussion on the Julian vs. Gregorian calendars and an explanation of additional rules, see Dates, Calendars and Genealogy.

List of Children

For those PGM profiles where the individual had children, use the heading Children, and then list the children in numbered order (if order of birth known) or non-numbered bullets (if order of birth is not known) in their own subsection, usually at the bottom of the narrative (above Sources, and above Research Notes if present).

Link to children's profiles if they have a profile. Provide basic vitals (b, m, d), but not too much detail (removed to Connecticut in 1665 and had the following children...). Additional detail goes on the child's profile, if they have one. Rationale for including list of children with basic vitals on parent profiles:

  • We typically follow Anderson's practice (and he does this);
  • Ability to visually check list of documented children against attached profiles;
  • Allows placement of citations that support the link between parents and child;
  • Supports ability to print profile page with basic family information.

Last Will & Testament

Because such documents often include very important family-relationship information, these can be extremely valuable. It is not necessary to transcribe the entire text of a will; simply highlight the particulars.

When the estate details are long, consider moving them to a separate free-space page and linking to that page from the biography.

Here's an example.

Research Notes Section

All research notes should be signed and dated by the person entering them. This is done by placing ~~~~ at the end of the research note.

Sources Section

Format like this:

== Sources ==
<references />
See also:
  • [list here any general sources not included in any inline references (footnotes).]

Many profiles still have either no sources or very poor sources. Find and add better ones. Learn how to use the <ref>...</ref>...<references /> tags to insert inline references (footnotes). to a profile: that makes it very clear which information is supported by which sources, especially since the profile may be edited later by others. Learn the WikiTree markup for adding the same source additional times to the same profile (see advanced sourcing toward the bottom of the "Learn how to use" page). The use of Span tags to cite multiple pages from the same source is discouraged on PGM profiles.

Our main source of information for PGM profiles is Robert Charles Anderson's Great Migration series. When there is a conflict about facts on a given profile page, including Last Name at Birth, we follow Anderson's conclusions (and spelling of last name) unless there has been more recently published research or the location of original records from the time period that corrects or adds to Anderson.

Please do NOT transcribe onto profiles the full text of Anderson's work. The GM series is copyrighted; copy/pasting is therefore a copyright violation.

Please read our sources page for a range of sources that the project is using to support our efforts.

Acknowledgements Section

We follow the style guide on Acknowledgements. We do not acknowledge uploaders of profiles. We do not retain a list of GEDCOM uploads. This information is tracked under the Changes tab.

Other Considerations

Scroll Boxes Not Recommended Scroll Boxes on PGM profiles are not recommended and discouraged from use. On occasion, a limited number of PGM profiles may contain scroll boxes, if the material contained in them cannot be consolidated into the biography or if the material is essential but lengthy.

Centering Text on a Page Not Recommended Centering is not recommended for styling purposes, e.g. it shouldn't be used just because you like the look of centered headlines or information. It can be used when you want to properly transcribe the original appearance of something like a headstone.

Background Images / Wall paper Throughout WikiTree, you may see examples of profiles that use an image as background or "wallpaper." Wallpaper is a matter of taste. One profile manager may be for it; another one against it. Background can also be very difficult for members with vision challenges. So please be thoughtful about adding backgrounds, and don't take it personally if someone removes a background image. Please do not use the PGM graphic for background images.

  • Login to request to the join the Trusted List so that you can edit and add images.
  • Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Scott McClain, S Willson, and Jen Hutton. (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.)
Comments: 16

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Should the project box and PGM co-management be added to this wonderful page?
posted by GeneJ X
Should the guidance include additional statements about images of source materials posted to profiles. Ala, something along the lines of "It is preferable to add and cite relevant sources, rather than posting images to the profile pages."
posted by GeneJ X
edited by GeneJ X
Suggestion by M Cole-12288 to add "completing the confidence level for the parents and the data fields. When these are empty they often show up as Suggestions"
posted by S (Hill) Willson