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US Southern Colonies Project Editing Guidance

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US Southern Colonies Project | US Southern Colonies Teams | Profile Example

The goal for US Southern Colonies profiles is to present sourced facts about the person's genealogy and life in a well-written Biography, with research about those facts and discussions of disputed or conflicting information, if needed, included as footnotes and/or Research Notes.[1]

See also the project's Profile Example, which shows the basics.

This page covers style and editing guidance that clarifies aspects of WikiTree's Styles and Standards as they apply to US Southern Colonies Project profiles. If you have a question about something that is not covered here or by the Profile Example, please post a comment to this page.


Notes for Data Doctors

Project Box/Project Account/Project-Protected Profile (PPP): To resolve suggestions concerning a profile that has the project box for the US Southern Colonies Project but does not also have the project account as a manager, the opposite (project account but no project box), or is PPP and doesn't have either or both, you may need to coordinate with the project's Managed Profiles Teams (see this page). You could also refer the profile to the attention of the project. See details for possible solutions below.

Name Fields:

In general, colonial English women in the Southern colonies took their husband's name when they married. The last husband's surname would be in the "Current Last Name" field; previous married name(s) should be in the "Other Last Name(s)" field.
Do not use "of [location]" in a name field, unless the profile is co-managed by a project that specifically allows it. It is not allowed for profiles managed by the Magna Carta Project, which includes the following in its Datafield Guide:
  • Lands held: These should be in the biography. They do not belong in the Other Nicknames field. If someone is described as being "of such-and-such a place" in the Other Nicknames field, this should be transferred to the biography.
  • Frequently seen prefixes include Capt, Col, Rev, Dr (no punctuation)
    • Spell out "Governor", but abbreviate "Lt Gov" or "Dep Gov" (with a space, but no punctuation)[2]
    • Do not use "Mr", "Mrs", "Miss" as a prefix. If found in contemporary sources, include (with source) in the biography instead.
  • Frequently seen suffixes include Esq., Gent. (with punctuation)
  • Probably Jr./Sr./III, etc. should be deleted (see more information below).
Middle Names: Although middle names began to be used in the Americas, they were generally still rare before the Revolution. See "The Use of Middle Names", by Robert W. Baird, posted to Bob's Genealogy Filing Cabinet (accessed 11 May 2022). See too his article "Senior, Junior & Name Suffixes in General, which also addresses "Suffixes of Social Status", such as Esq. & Gent..

Pre-USA: In WikiTree, 4 July 1776 marks the birth of USA and is the date used to identify "USA too early" suggestions. To correct these for colonies within the scope of the US Southern Colonies Project, the preference is

  • Maryland, USA -> Province of Maryland
  • Virginia, USA -> Colony of Virginia
  • North Carolina, USA -> Province of North Carolina[3]
  • South Carolina, USA -> Province of South Carolina[3]
  • Georgia, USA -> Province of Georgia
For all 13 colonies, see this spreadsheet. For more information about colonies within the scope of the US Southern Colonies Project, see their respective Team pages (listed here).

Project Preferences: Several DBE suggestions are related to locations "preferred by project". The help pages for those DBEs - such as Space:DBE_618 - include links to project pages specifying preferences. The page for US Southern Colonies Project is Space: US Southern Colonies Project Location Preferences.

Place Names: Do not use the name suggested in the dropdown list.

Do not remove "Parish", "County", or "District". See below and this article for additional information.
"(now xx)" triggers a database suggestion. The place datafields should "use their convention, not ours" - in other words, what was, not annotated with what is. For example, Berkeley County was created prior to 1776 and became a county in West Virginia in 1863. The following locations are correct, in their proper time:
  1. Berkeley County, Colony of Virginia
  2. Berkeley County, Virginia, USA
  3. Berkeley County, West Virginia, USA
Both "Berkeley, Virginia" and "Berkeley, Virginia (now WVa)" are incorrect for Virginia or Virginia Colony locations (also, both US Southern Colonies Project and Virginia Project call for using "County" when known). So in the examples above, use #1 if the date is before 4 July 1776 (pre-USA for WikiTree purposes) and #2 if 4 July 1776 (until 1863, when #3 would be correct).[4]
The project has a "Needs Location Research" maintenance category and an associated space page with additional information. See Category: US Southern Colonies Project Needs Location Research and Space: Needs Location Research.

Style Guide

See also US Southern Colonies Project Profile Example.

Some basics:
  • Horizontal line (----): Do not use a horizontal line in "people profiles". Although Help: Editing Tips recommends using a horizontal line to break up text, the US Southern Colonies Project does not - use subheadings instead. WikiTree guidelines do not allow a horizontal line above the =Biography= heading (see Help: Project Boxes) or with Stickers (Help:Stickers: "There should be no extra hard returns above or below it, and no horizontal rules"). Horizontal lines at the top or bottom of a Category page result in "8072: Separator lines in Category" suggestions. They can be useful on Space pages (such as this one). An exception for the use of a horizontal line on a people profile might be in order to get an image presented within the text to display as desired.
  • Colored text: Do not use colored text (an exception: a bold/red Warning or Caution in a top-of-profile text note - not the whole note, just the one word).
  • Background images: Do not use "busy" background images. In general, a flag or map is too busy to be used as a background image. If anyone asks for a background image to be removed, please do remove it.
  • Capitalization of headings: WikiTree dictates styling for 2nd-level headings (initial caps). For other headings, capitalize the first word, but you can continue with initial cap (using headline style) or not (rest of headline is lower case except for proper nouns), provided the use is consistent within the profile. For example, "Disputed Origins" and "DNA Information", as well as "The Battle of Almanance" are headline style; if you were using lowercase style, they would be "Disputed origins", "DNA information", and "The Battle of Almanance" (no change for the last one, since "The" is the first word and "Almanance" is a proper noun).[5]
Considering that the majority of our colonists were from England, the US Southern Colonies Project tends to follow the existing guidance published by the England Project (Profile Standards). But America has been a melting pot since the beginning, with colonists from other countries, including France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, so look to guidance from those projects as well as England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, as you work on profiles for colonists in Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia.

Datafield Guide

See also #Notes for Data Doctors, above, which covers some points that come up during Clean-a-Thons that should be helpful for resolving suggestions throughout the year. This section includes details that will be of more interest to project members. For more about working on Suggestions, see below.

Many projects offer additional guidance on appropriately filling out the datafields of a profile. If a US Southern Colonies Project profile is co-managed with another project - or the person was not born in the colonies - you should consult the appropriate project's guidelines. The following table was adapted from one offered by the Magna Carta Project's Datafield Guide.

Name Field Guidelines
WikiTree England Scotland Wales[6] Ireland France[7] Other EuroAristo[8]


A significant specification for colonial locations is to include "Parish", "County", and "District" if that is known. So, instead of the common genealogical practice of, for example, "Richmond, Richmond", you would say "Richmond Parish, Richmond County, Colony of Virginia" - which, in this case, is the only alternative. Richmond Parish was created in 1692, when Richmond County was created.[9] The city of Richmond, founded in 1737, is nowhere near Richmond County, both of which exist today. (Richmond straddles the James River. Richmond County lies on the north side of the Rappahannock River, significantly northeast of Richmond.)
This topic is covered in more detail in the Locations in "Place" Datafields article posted here ("March News", on the 2021 Archive page for the Project's News Page).

Relationship Status

WikiTree's options for relationship status are Non-Biological, Uncertain, Unknown, Confident, and Confirmed with DNA.[10] "Unknown" status is only an option when no status has yet been selected. There is no "in between" Confident and Uncertain once a relationship status is selected.
Uncertain should be used when the relationship is disputed or otherwise less than certain (see this section of the Uncertain Help Page for details). The Research Notes section of the profile should discuss why the relationship is Uncertain. Consider detaching profiles that are beyond "less than certain" and are closer to "probably not" (remember to collaborate when taking such actions - post a comment to the profile or start a G2G discussion; usually, the detached profiles are noted in the Research Notes section).
Ideally, a relationship selected as "Confident" will be supported in the text by primary sources that clearly show the relationship (e.g., a baptism record). A problem frequently encountered when working on Southern Colonies profiles is the lack of primary sources - Virginia, for example, has many burned counties, for which pre-1776 records no longer exist or are incomplete.
When collecting circumstantial evidence to support a relationship, it is important to include why a particular fact pertains to the people identified (for example, what identifies the daughter named Ann Jones in James Smith's will as the same Ann Smith who married to John Jones in a different county). Several factors make piecing together adequate circumstantial evidence difficult:
  • The closeness of colonial families. Early colonists tended to came in groups - from the same community or the same family - settled in the same general area and intermarried.
  • The naming practices of colonists. Each generation tended to name their children after their parents and siblings as well as using surnames as given names (and you'll also find that a surname initially used for a son's given name may become a favored name for daughters in later generations). Children were also named after family friends and local heroes (this is more of a problem after the Revolution, when most Virginia families will have a son named George Washington, for example).
  • The recordkeeping practices necessitated by the previous factors. Just as it is a challenge for modern genealogists to keep people straight, it was a challenge for the official records also. One way colonial recordkeepers distinguished two adults with the same name was to call the older of the two Senior and the younger Junior - which would change with time. For example, when the elder one died, the younger no longer needed to be called Junior - until a younger person of the same name came of age, at which time the records would show the older as Senior (who had previously been Junior) and the younger as Junior. The two people identified as Senior and Junior were not necessarily father or son, or even related, and the practice was not restricted to males (or to maiden names, with a niece and aunt-by-marriage sometimes differentiated by Jr/Sr).


See also US Southern Colonies Project Profile Example.

BDM and Genealogically Defined

Check that information in the datafields ("BDM": birth, death, marriage) is either supported or explained in the text.
The WikiTree page "Genealogically Defined" quotes Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, as saying that a person is Genealogically Defined when "we have at least one piece of evidence that will lead to the identification of his or her parents, one piece of evidence for each spouse(s), and one piece of evidence for each child." So check that the profile text has reliable source(s) supporting the parents, each spouse, and any children. The Genealogically Defined page gives some examples of reliable sources. See also the US Southern Colonies Project Reliable Sources page and the project's Sources and Resources Directory.

Order of Elements

See Help: Biographies for WikiTree's basic guidelines, which cover the four allowable 2nd-level headings and their order:
  • == Biography ==
  • == Research Notes == (optional)
  • == Sources ==
  • == Acknowledgements == (optional)
The Biography section should cover genealogical facts and, briefly, information about the person's life and accomplishments (see Help: Bio Ideas). As noted on the Help: Biographies page:
Ideally, you should include a source citation for every fact included in the narrative. Be sure to note when a fact is disputed or when there is contradictory information.
US Southern Colonies Project profiles often need to cover discussions of disputed or contradictory information. This should be under Research Notes. If the information is something that needs to be immediately noted, add "top-of-profile" text to draw attention to it in the Research Notes (see suggested wording on the project's Profile Example). Research Note Boxes can also be used (see Help: Research Notes and Help: Research Notes#Research Note Boxes).
Third-level headings (which use three equal signs to either side of the heading) can be added as needed, such as "Disputed Origins" (under Research Notes).
Categories and Templates: Categories go at the very top of the profile text, but are displayed at the bottom of a profile page. There are several different types of templates. The main ones, and their placement, are
  • Project Boxes, which are required when a profile is managed by a project, go just above the Biography heading. (Note that the requirement is two-way: if you have a Project Box, the profile must be managed by the corresponding project.)
  • Research Note Boxes are usually placed just below categories.
  • Stickers go below the Biography heading.
For more information about the project box and stickers of the US Southern Colonies Project, see the January 2021 News post explaining them (here).


When working on a profile, don't forget to check the profile's Suggestions (in the dropdown menu under the profile's WikiTree ID in the mini-menu at upper right of the profile page). If working on suggestions in general is something you enjoy, you might want to join the project's Data Doctors Team.


As noted above, one option to resolve a suggestion related to a profile that has the project box (PB) for the US Southern Colonies Project but does not also have the project account (PA) as a manager, the opposite (project account but no project box), or is a project-protected profile (PPP) and doesn't have either or both, is to refer the profile to the attention of the project.
Any profile within the scope of the project with a suggestion pertaining to the "if PPP, then PA/PB; if PA, then PB & vice versa" rule can be referred to the project by adding our "Needs Project Attention" maintenance category:
[[Category: US Southern Colonies Project Needs Project Attention]]
If you do, please add a comment to the profile (e.g., Needs Project Attention because it probably should/should not be a project-managed profile).
The US Southern Colonies Project covers colonists in pre-1776 Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia (before 4 July 1776 for WikiTree purposes). Possible solutions for profiles within the project's scope:
  1. If PPP and it clearly should not be, and you can remove PPP (only Project Leaders can), please do. If you cannot, add the Needs Project Attention category & a comment to the profile (e.g., Needs Project Attention because it does not meet current WikiTree guidelines for PPP, which needs to be removed).
  2. If PPP is needed but the Project Account is not a manager, please fill out the Managed Profile Request (see this page).
  3. If the Project Account is a manager but the Project Box is not displayed, and it appears that the profile should be managed by the project, please take the following two steps:
    1. add {{US Southern Colonist|needs=Project Attention}}
    2. add a comment that you added the project box & maintenance category, and why it should be a project-managed profile (if it is already PPP, please also say why it should remain PPP).
  4. If the Project Box is displayed and it is clear the profile does not need to be managed by the project, you can add "Sticker" to the project box: {{US Southern Colonist}} -> {{US Southern Colonist Sticker}} (only for profiles within the scope of the project please). If the profile is not within the project's scope, please remove the Project Box.
  5. If the Project Box is displayed and the profile should be a project-managed profile, please fill out the Managed Profile Request (see this page).
Note that while a project-protected profile (PPP) must be managed by a project, a project-managed profile does not have to be PPP.

  1. Note that while this means the "Biography" section should be biographical and discussions and explanations go under "Research Notes", DNA information can be both. If the person is "Confirmed with DNA", that is biographical information that should be under the Biography section with appropriate source citations; research concerning possible DNA connections should be under Research Notes (see the DNA Information section of the project's Profile Example).
  2. Note that this is in contradiction with England Project guidance, which says to not use temporary positions or posts in the prefix field. Although the US Southern Colonies Project considers the use of Gov, Lt Gov, or Dep Gov in the prefix field appropriate, do not do so if the England Project is a manager of the profile or if the person is better known for other temporary positions or posts.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Prior to 1712 -> Province of Carolina
  4. When a US Southern Colonies Project profile crosses into the USA timeframe (e.g., someone born in 1750 but died in 1810), you can use USA, United States, or United States of America. If the profile is co-managed by a post-1776 project, you can check if that project has a preference.
  5. In the US, "headline style" is basically initial cap for the first word and most major words: e.g., "The little engine that could" would be "The Little Engine that Could" using headline style capitalization.
  6. Wales name field guidelines primarily cover Welsh patronyms, which by law were not used after 1535, but in practice were (and are). If you encounter an "ap" or a "ferch" in a name field, consult these Wales Project guidelines.
  7. Both France Project guidance and Quebecois Project guidance can be helpful for colonists with French heritage.
  8. Several projects, including both the European Aristocrats Project and the Magna Carta Project, offer specific guidance concerning titles and nicknames. If the profile is co-managed by another project, follow its guidance. If not, follow the Magna Carta Project's guidance.
  9. Colony of Virginia is preferred for pre-USA Virginia. The preference for the other Southern Colonies is to use "Province of" (e.g., Province of Carolina, Province of Georgia).
  10. If you select the relationship status of "Confirmed with DNA", you must have appropriate support on the profiles of both parent and child. Help: DNA_Confirmation says a source citation is required and a 3rd-level DNA subsection under the Biography heading is optional. The US Southern Colonies Project asks that you include both, as pre-1776 DNA confirmation takes a bit more explanation than the example for a match between second cousins once removed given here. (See additional details in the "DNA Information" section of the project's Profile Example.)

Comments: 10

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Have the concerns with locations been communicated to the tech team? There are several apps that plot locations, and if this project is specifically entering nonstandard locations, they may not be mappable.
posted by Jonathan Crawford
Thanks for the comment Jonathan. The locations are not nonstandard, just that a lot of people remove "Parish", "County", & "District" from the datafields, which is not necessary & not desirable for project-managed profiles. However, I'll touch base with the Data Doctors Team member who has been coordinating other issues with the tech team.

Cheers, Liz

posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
Jonathan: Ales has added them to the data doctor's location list but I don't think that is shared with all apps that plot locations. They are definitely non-standard as Liz stated. I think Liz meant me, in her contact below. Honestly, I never thought about the tech team. Should the US Southern Colonies project send a note to them?
posted by Kathy (Stuewe) Zipperer
edited by Kathy (Stuewe) Zipperer
yup! And glad I did. I was just thinking of the info Aleš has for his database scrubs. Thanks Kathy!
posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
This is beyond awesome! Thank you so much for going to a great deal of effort to create this page.
posted by Victoria English