Puritan Great Migration Editing Guidance

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Colonial New Englandmap
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The mission of the PGM Project is to improve profiles. Here's what we mean by that.



Those of us working from Anderson's Great Migration series are typically de-duping the immigrating ancestor, his or her spouse, their children (sometimes), and anyone "up the line" (parents, grandparents, etc.). We need help merging duplicate profiles "down the line" (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.). Even just cleaning up your own line of descent from your own ancestor(s) is helpful!


Many profiles still have either no sources or really poor sources. Find and add better ones. Learn how to use the <ref>...</ref>...<references /> tags to insert inline footnotes/citations 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.

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.

Last Name at Birth (LNAB)

Especially on 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 are:

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:

  1. 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."
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Narrative clean-up

Recognizing that not all members of this project have the same level of interest or availability, the following are guidelines, not requirements. The ultimate goal is to have 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. Suggested subheaders include:


Typically organized in a chronological manner, this section describes the life of the person.

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 a footnote citation, referencing the original. Read more about Wikitree's policy on Copying Text.

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

For data and conclusions not supported by Anderson's Great Migration series (or a later approved source), 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)
    • Wikilink to the disputed relatives' profiles within the text.
    • Provide footnotes and 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.

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.

List of Children

For those PGM profiles where the individual had children, 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.


Format like this:

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


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.

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On 16 Nov 2019 at 01:53 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Dawn, "Contents" are automatically generated by adding more than two headers in the narrative. Here, the headers are "Merging," "Sources," "Last Name at Birth..."

On 16 Nov 2019 at 01:04 GMT Dawn Hartzell wrote:

How do you create the Contents section? Thanks