Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Family Association Wikis - Whitney

Readers of Genea-Musings will recall that I made a "Wikis for Genealogy" presentation on 15 May to the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego (CGSSD). Very few of the attendees had ever used a genealogy wiki before.

One of the categories I had in my presentation for genealogy wikis was "Family Associations." This seems like an excellent use for a wiki - if the family association has a dedicated group of family researchers. One of the examples for this type of genealogy wiki was the Whitney Research Group, which focuses on the different Whitney family groups in the USA. Here is the home page for the Whitney Research Group wiki:

My interest in the Whitney surname is the ancestry of Martha Whitney (1764-1832), who married Benjamin Seaver (1757-1816) - they are my 4th great-grandparents. Martha is descended from John-1, John-2, Nathaniel-3, William-4, and Samuel-5.

I clicked on the link for the John Whitney Family of Watertown, Massachusetts in the screen above, and saw:

There are sections for Primary Resources, John and Elinor Whitney Databases (currently not functional) and Miscellaneous databases.

I clicked on the Family Group Record for John and Elinor (-----) Whitney and saw research notes for the family. Here is the top of the page:

Further down the page are notes from one of the major scholarly resources used in constructing the wiki:

And further down the page are the list of children of John and Elinor (-----) Whitney, and the start of the References section:

A user can click on any of the children with an active link and go to the wiki page for that person's family.

The Reference 3 item is for "John Whetny, widower, d. 1 Jun 1673 aged about 84 yeares," according to Watertown Records, Comprising the First and Second Book of Town Proceedings, with the Land Grants and Possessions. Also, the Proprietors' Book, and the First Book of and Supplement of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Watertown, MA: Historical Society, 1894, p. 36.

I clicked on the active link for the reference, and saw:

For this reference, the items that pertain to the Whitney family were transcribed on this reference page.

I compared the information that I have for my own Whitney line against the information on the wiki pages, and found no significant vital records errors on my part, assuming the Whitney Research Group data is error-proof (it's a pretty good assumption, I think). Using the information from the Reference 3 above, I was able to add more source citation data to my database entries.

I do have research note information that will add to the information on some of my families, so I will join the Whitney Research Group and make my contributions to the wiki effort.

I could not see the Comments for the any of the Person Pages because I am not yet a member of the Group. However, I could check out the Source and History pages of the wiki.

I really like how the Whitney Research Group has implemented the wiki concept, and populated the pages, on this website.

My opinion is that Person Pages similar to these Whitney pages are the future of collaborative and scholarly genealogy. It may be that Family Association webpages will proliferate and association members will populate the family surname wiki. Or it may be that an family tree wiki like will proliferate and many researchers will populate the family tree wiki.

Unfortunately, very few people are aware of these online family tree wikis, and even fewer are collaborating with others and contributing to them.

What other family tree or family association wikis are available online? Have you contributed to them? I would be especially interested in information about the collaboration aspect of working with a family wiki.


Ginger Smith said...

Hi Randy,
Thanks for blogging about the Whitney Family Wiki. You are right, it is very nicely done. I see on the lower right hand corner that it is powered by MediaWiki - which is the same group that does the WeRelate wiki. I have tried a couple different wikis - JLog's TiddlyWiki for myself and a PBWiki for documents on North Carolina I've shared with others. However, I've not tried to use the collaborative tools of wikis yet.

Do you have a WeRelate wiki? If so, how do you like it? Have you been able to get family members to use it? I haven't even really had a chance to look at it yet.

On thing I did notice about your Whitney wiki is that under your John Whitney Family Group page, the top header is "Primary Resource." I was wondering why they would have Family group sheets and essays written by descendants or researchers under this header as they are obviously NOT Primary resources, but compiled genealogies. Although these documents do contain some primary sources cited, I think they should be more careful in naming their header...unless of course I am in error and a "primary resource" is different from a "primary source?"
What do you think?

Martin said...

Have you seen this?

Martin said...

Have you seen this:

Steve Hayes said...

I started a family wiki about two years ago now, but though quite a lot of people seem to read it (more than read my blog), very few have actually contributed to it, which is rather disappointing, as I hoped it would be a collaborative effort.

I hoped that others would be moved to start wikis for their families, and that we could then link them up for the common lines, but apart from a few minor edits, no one has contributed very much.

Earline Hines Bradt said...

Hi Randy, I like the idea of online collaboration with a wiki. I do have some additional Whitney family info Mass>NB>Upper Canada but I'm not actively researching the Whitney family. How would I go about adding the information?

Sara Greenleaf said...

Thanks very much for this post. I'm also a descendant of the Whitney family (Mary Parsons Whitney (1810-1889) is my 3rd great-grandmother) and am looking forward to exploring this resource (and wikis in genealogy generally) in more detail.

roger said...

doesn't a tree wiki kind of...conflict with new familysearch tho? (despite probably being much better technology-wise)