upload image

The UNKNOWNS Team Process

Privacy Level: Open (White)

Location: Planet Earthmap
Surnames/tags: unknown anonymous n
Profile manager: Debi Hoag private message [send private message]
This page has been accessed 8,749 times.

Unknowns team



To improve the integrity of WikiTree by identifying and updating profiles without valid names.

Task List

A. Select an alias from the list below to work on. The object is to review and update all profiles not using an alias in a valid manner per Name Fields.

B. Search for possible duplicates which profile can be merged into. Only merge if the two profiles were intended to represent the same person. If the profile is linked to another profile, such as a spouse or child, it can sometimes be helpful to look for duplicates for the other profile in order to identify a duplicate for the Unknown.

C. If an alias, e. g., Unknown/UNKNOWN, is used for the Last Name at Birth (LNAB):

  1. Is the profile from a time, place or culture where surnames are not used?
    1. If Yes, skip the following steps. Unknown as a surname in this case is a valid usage; no further action is required.
    2. If No, go to the next step.
  2. On the surnames list is a profile marked Active?
    1. If Yes, skip the following steps. An alias in this case is being used by an active member of WikiTree and is a valid usage; no further action is required.
    2. If No, go to the next step.
  3. Does the profile have a privacy status other than Open (white), that is, Public (green) or Private (yellow or red)?
    1. If Yes, you may need to contact the Profile Manager. Only Open privacy level profiles can be edited by any WikiTree Genealogist.
    2. If No (profile is Open and can be edited), go to the next step.
  4. Does the profile have a Profile Manager? Or someone on the Trusted List who is not Profile Manager? Always be sure to check the Privacy tab for Trusted List.
    1. If Yes, contact the Profile Manager or Trusted List member to see if a corrected LNAB is known or can be discovered.
    2. If No, go to the next step.
  5. Is the profile a married woman with an alias as her LNAB in a time/culture where a wife normally takes her husband's name at marriage?
    1. If Yes, consider adding the profile to Needs LNAB only if future research is likely to discover her LNAB. If research has been done and it is unlikely that future research will find her LNAB, no further action is required. This is a valid usage. If you have exhausted all possible means of determining her LNAB, consider adding a Research Notes section to the biography outlining your results. This will notify other researchers what work has been done so it will not be duplicated. You might verify that her husband's surname is listed in the Current Last Name field.
    2. If No, go to the next step.
  6. Does the profile have identifiable data? Are there birth/death dates? Is there information in the biography such as a narrative bio, sources, etc.?
    1. If Yes, skip the following steps. No further action is required.
    2. If No, go to the next step.
  7. Is the profile connected to one or more other profiles? For example: spouse, child(ren), parents.
    1. If Yes, no further action is required.
    2. If No, add a comment to Possible Profiles for Deletion with a link to the profile, include an explanation of what you have looked for and/or discovered

Best Practices

No. Profile Type How to Manage
1 Completely blank, orphaned, no information except an alias in both the first and last name fields. Add comment to Possible Profiles for Deletion
2 Completely blank, no information except an alias in both the first and last name, has a profile manager. Add comment to Possible Profiles for Deletion
3 Limited with no connections – Orphaned, not connected to any other profile, has either first or last name with an alias. Has no dates/locations which would enable researcher to identify profile. Add comment to Possible Profiles for Deletion
4 Unknown with connections – a valid use of an alias, example: maiden name unknown, family members connected. Research to find a correct name or find duplicate with the correct name for merging. If nothing found, no further action is required.
5 Unknown that will not be known - example, unknown father of a child born out of wedlock. Be aware that when profiles for siblings are created with no parent added, WikiTree software automatically creates an Unknown father profile. This profile is to be left intact and attached to the siblings in order for them to be linked as a family. Add comment to Possible Profiles for Deletion
6 Unnamed Infant– This is the recommended Proper First Name/Preferred First Name convention in English language profiles for an infant who died before she/he could be named or was stillborn. Other countries/languages may use an appropriate term that expresses the same meaning. No action required.
7 None– This naming practice is being used for individuals born in a time/culture/place where surnames are not used. As of now, it is a valid usage. No action required.
8 Other Ask in Discord or the GoogleGroup on unusual profiles that do not fall into the above profile types


Unknowns team Unknowns team home page.

Name Fields

Guidelines for using name fields.

Unknown Profiles that needs LNAB

Unknown Aliases and Counts

The goal is to have the Unknown alias counts eventually reach zero. Researched profiles where the real surname could not be found should be renamed to Unknown.

Alias 28 Sep 2016 3 Feb 2018 24 Apr 2019 25 Nov 2019 4 May 2020 10 Oct 2020 2 Feb 2021 8 Jun 2021
Uncertain 303 259 305 322 326 338 339 342
Uknown 516 324 325 217 217 228 236 236
Unknow 401 285 298 230 249 249 259 255
Unknowen 98 79 83 83 74 65 61 57
Unkown 1 343
Unknownsurname 71 40 35 35 29 28 24 7
Unnamed 41 29 29 23 20 51 61 19
Unsure 267 194 200 220 221 231 338 210
Ukn 157 128 126 132 121 118 121 100
Unk 3 122 1 968 1 939 2 004 1 956 1 922 1 962 1 775
Unkn 442 189 196 200 201 199 198 189
UNDISCOVERED 17 17 17 17
.... 72 78 92 105
--- 28 28 34 40
-----(x5) 80 79 77 29
------(x6) 16 16 15 14
X 5 818 5 655 5 034 5 019 5 054 5 006 4 995 4 878
XX 131 147 157 155 158 158
XXX 155 157 153 153 154 164
XXXX 75 74 72 73 76 76
XXXXX 29 29 28 29 30 31
XXXXXX (6) 9 9 9 9 9 13
XXXXXXX (7) 2 4 4 5 7 7
DONTKNOW 233 213 224 194
DONOTKNOW 44 47 45 23
LNU (Last Name Unknown) 275 365 364 390 396 411 409 410
MNU (Maiden Name Unknown) 151 155 164 154
NN 1 885 1 378 1 258 1 298 1 342 1338 1 420 1 422
NK 71 67 67 61
Wife 214 112 105 98 95 89 89 84
Not Known 619 458 429 464 478 488 491 486
Not sure 200 86 107 110 113 116 127 134
Someone 10 20 12 12 10 10 11 12
Somebody 8 4 5 4 2 2 3 4
Something 11 5 5 6 6 6 6 7
last name 51 26 22 22 20 20 21 20
Inconnu - French 17 20 21 22 26 28
Unbekannt - German 62 66 81 81 84 116
Okänd - Swedish 17 17 18 17 18 18
Onbekend - Afrikaans 79 76 75 79
Total Count 14 482 11604 11 278 11 309 12 259 12 403 12 442 11 320

The Unknown surname count may never go down but it should contain only profiles which have been researched and proper names could not be found.

Alias 28 Sep 2016 3 Feb 2018 24 Apr 2019 25 Nov 2019 4 May 2020 10 Oct 2020 2 Feb 2021 8 Jun 2021
Unknown 246 758 276 976 298 134 308 578 310 201 315 805 320 036 323 599

  • Login to edit this profile and add images.
  • Private Messages: Send a private message to the Profile Manager. (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.)
Comments: 200

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.
Another code for unknown is FNU - I checked it because UK military use it for unknown in intelligence situations - FNU, forename Not Known, SNU for surname (there is one which might be that) and, not relevant here - ANK - Address Not Known. There are 240 FNUs!

Was not sure who to let know about this, this looked like the place to do it.

I was able to clear up most of the LNAB Unknowns by recycling them into some new profiles. All that's left are a small handful of 6 I can not do anything with as they either still have a profile manager listed (cant adopt them) or are locked for editing due to a 1500 date or both. If someone can free them up I will be happy to recycle them.

Diane (UNKNOWN) Unknown abt 1280 - Locked 1500

Ivanez (UNKNOWN) Unknown abt 1200 - Locked 1500

Unknown (UNKNOWN) Unknown - before 2000 - Still has a profile manager

Unknown Unknown aft 0010 - Locked 1500 and Still has a profile manager

Unknown Unknown 0815 - Locked 1500 and Still has a profile manager

Unknown Unknown 1870 - Still has a profile manager

- Mike G.

posted by Mike Guzzetta
edited by Mike Guzzetta
CAn't you request that the profile be opened using the "Open Profile " request?? not for the very recent one, but certainly for the old ones....
posted by Pam (Anderson) Smith
Hi Team

I added the following links to the page:

A Weekly Report of all Connected Orphaned Profiles with family Links

A Weekly Report of all Unconnected Orphaned Profiles with NO family Links

Hope this will make it easier to find profiles that needs LNAB researched.


Hi all,

Please welcome Debi McGee Hoag and Cindy Lesure, Leaders of the Profile Improvement Project, as new Leaders of the Unknowns Project. Esmé van der Westhuizen has agreed to take on the position of Project Coordinator. Esmé has been an active participant in the goals of the Unknowns Project and will work very hard to continue our efforts.

I know you will all be pleased that the Unknowns Project will be able to continue its work to identify unknown profiles and reduce those pesky Unknowns, Unks, etc.

And thank you all for your work on this project. I have enjoyed being your Leader, but it is time to pass the baton to others.


I'm sorry to have to post this message. I have stepped down from Leader of the Unknowns Project, which leaves it currently with no Leader. I will still be around on WikiTree and working on the Project, just not as Leader.

If anyone is interested in stepping in as either Leader or Project Coordinator, please let me know.


The page was missing some </div> where you had defined a background colour. I added those
posted by Richard Shelley
I have been going through profiles and adding the category: [ [ Category: Needs LNAB ] ] so that there are lots in the same place.
posted by Sherry Wells
There are many, many generations of UNKNOWN UNKNOWN married to UNKNOWN UNKNOWN going back from UNKNOWN-81099. I would attempt to help on this project, but I feel it is way over my level of expertise.
posted by Debra (Downs) Allison

Have spent a couple of days talking with other leaders on the subject. General consensus seems to be that if the individual is from a place and time with a language other than English, then an appropriate name/descriptor can be used in that language.

There appears to be no valid reason for dropping "Infant" from the term used in English. So pending any notification from the Admin Team that this is changed, we will continue to use "Unnamed Infant" for English-language profiles.


Shirley that is a discussion point. My leader at the Dutch Roots told me, although it is still said at WikiTree Help as Unnamed infant it should be now just Unnamed. Hope you can discuss this at leaders and make it clear. Thank you!

Sweet regards, A.

Michelle, would be very happy to have you work on sourcing the many unknown profiles we have on WikiTree. They do need a lot of help.

Denise, if you will take a look at the naming conventions you will see that the preferred name for an infant who was stillborn or died without being named is "Unnamed Infant".


I've been struggling with how to identify infants who have died before being baptized and so had no name and are listed as "Unknown". Do you think it would work to name them "Deceased infant" or something similar?
posted by Denise Chiasson

Categories: Unknowns