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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
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Surnames/tags: profile improvement unknowns
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Project:Profile Improvement

NOTE: Please do not do any work on any profiles that display the Hold Request Box. It appears something like this (though it may display any Project Name):

Hold Request: Please communicate with the Profile Improvement Project or wait until after 14 Jun 2024 before editing this profile. See the Research Notes for details.
Click to download the WikiTree Day 2022 Slideshow

Welcome to the Unknowns, a team of the Profile Improvement Project focused on finding identities for profiles with any variation of the Unknown surname.



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

How to Join

Contact Pam (Anderson) Smith for guidance on tasks of the Unknowns Team.

Please do the following:

  1. Add profiles and unknowns to your list of followed tags. That way you'll see all of our discussions in your G2G Feed.
  2. Add your name to the "Team Members list below" and update it periodically.
  3. You may also add [[Category:Profile Improvement Project]] to your profile page. That will put you on the list on the Project Category page.
  4. We use WikiTree's Unknowns Team Google Group for communication. Please add a message with your Wiki ID so that we can confirm your access. We also use Help:Discord #unknowns channel for conversation.

If Project Leader support is needed, please contact one of the Profile Improvements Project Leader Debi Hoag, Robin (Dodge) Shaules, or Kay (Sands) Knight.


  1. Identify all profiles without valid names according to the naming standards at Name Fields. Add the appropriate categories to profiles as needed. See Task List for steps to follow in determining the category.
  2. Send profiles to the Review Team by adding a comment to the Possible Profiles for Deletion if
  • corrections could be made but you don't know how or don't have access
  • the profile has never had data and has never been connected in any way
  • the profile has been merged so many times that you can't determine who was originally represented
  • the profile was originally for a non-person (animal, organization, thing)

To Do List

  1. We suggest that volunteers focus on a limited geographical area with which they are familiar for researching and solving Unknown profiles. Focus first on Orphan profiles, and then move on to Unknowns in that same area [state, province, country.] Check with Pam to see what areas are already being researched by team members.
  2. Use Name Fields to determine if alias is being used correctly. See especially the sections: "Use their conventions instead of ours" and "Specific Rules for Individual Name Fields."
  3. Add appropriate categories to profiles as needed. See Task List for steps to follow in determining the category.
  4. Locate profiles using an alias for either Preferred First Name (PFN) or Last Name at Birth (LNAB).

Research Note Boxes

Estimated Date: {{Estimated Date}} is a Research Note Box. For use whenever a rough estimate is used for a birth, death, and/or marriage date. {{Estimated Date}} will add a category for any/all estimated dates and add the profile to one of the Maintenance Categories -- Estimated Date Categories. By adding a variable, the estimated date can be specific to all, birth, death, or a combination of these. For example, {{Estimated Date|Death}} will specify the Death date is estimated.
Unsourced: {{Unsourced}} is a Research Note Box. It should be placed on any profile that has no sources. You can enter {{Unsourced}} without a modifier, but it's best to enter a country, state, province, or other place names. For example, {{Unsourced|France}}, will add the profile to the list of Unsourced profiles in France.


Click on the links to see what the template looks like in use.

Unknowns Template {{Unknowns}}

Citation Needed {{Citation Needed}}

African American or Mulatto (on census documents, etc) in the portion of North America that became the USA - (We want to help to alert the US Black Heritage Exchange Project members. If the person with Unknown as a last name is a slave in the what became the USA (regardless of race), please add {{Slave LNAB}} to alert the US Black Heritage Project. If they are listed as black or mulatto on records, please also add {{African-American Sticker}} which puts them on the project's radar.

For post Civil War (after slavery) unknowns who are black/mulatto, add [[Category: US Black Heritage Project, Needs LNAB]] as well as {{African-American Sticker}}

  • If they are not in the portion of North America that became the United States of America (for example, a Roman slave) - then use Unknowns slave{{Unknowns|slave}}

G2G Tag

The G2G tag for Unknowns Team Q&A is unknowns.

Team Members

Beside your name below, please keep track of what you're currently working on for this team. This is both for your own reference, and to aid collaboration amongst the team participants. If you are going to be temporarily inactive in the team (e.g. on vacation), please note that here. Thanks!

  • Name, report/update/interest
  • Pam (Anderson) Smith - (New) Team leader, currently coordinating team, working on Unknown alias profiles, and Arizona Unknowns

NOTES SEND OUT LATE 2023 - these team members have responded with updates

Chris Sharkey - need to follow up

ENGLAND PROJECT (need to update and follow up)

  • Linda Davison England works on LNAB 1500-1900 (will help with occasional England profile)
  • Amy Utting — England 19 and 20 century, seeking LNAB
  • Sarah Long - working through the Oxfordshire Unknowns.
  • Steve Davies Working on England mainly Gloucestershire and do have 1500 and 1700 access
  • Loralee Hutton Lancashire (Aug-Sep 2022), Yorkshire (Sep-Oct 2022)

CANADA initiated conversation with Dave Rutherford (Canada project leader), working on setting up members in specific provinces

Team members not working on Unknowns at this time

  • Login to edit this profile and add images.
  • Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Debi Hoag, Kay Knight, and Robin Shaules. (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.)

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