Tag Archives: WeRelate

WeRelate Update

I’m embarrassed to say I’ve paid little more than quick visits to my family pages at WeRelate lately, so once I finally did stop by for a good look around, I was pleasantly surprised.

First off, the current featured page for David Edmiston, and the associated Early Settlers of Augusta County, Virginia page, are quite inspiring. I love the beautifully designed links box on David’s page that directs you to all the research related to him and his family.

WeRelate Tree View

The addition of the new family tree viewer on family and person pages makes it easy to see where an individual fits into the family and to navigate between family/person pages. The dots next to an individual box tells you there’s a family page associated with that person (Marjorie has two) and the plus signs next to an individual will expand the tree to show that person’s family.

The family tree isn’t active on the page by default. You must click on the family tree icon just below the initial person/family details box on any page. Click again and the family tree area will disappear. It’s a great addition to the site.

WeRelate continues to amaze. I know where I’ll be spending a good deal of the upcoming holiday weekend. I’ve got a lot of Henry data that needs to be compiled . . .

WeRelate Portals

Some of the most fascinating information at WeRelate can be found in the portals. Portal pages are designed to serve as an overview for a section or topic.

WeRelate Community Portal

Let’s start with the Community Portal. This is probably the closest thing to a table of contents you’ll find on the site. Here you’ll find links to other portals, WeRelate projects and discussions, administrative information and lots of tutorials.

WeRelate Family Portal

Every namespace in WeRelate has its own portal. You’ll find links to them at the top of every portal page. Here is the Family Portal page.

WeRelate Cemetery Portal

The Cemetery Portal discusses how to set up your own cemetery page on WeRelate and link it to the portal. The cemetery portal has a growing number of cemeteries listed with history, photos and contact information. Like much of WeRelate, it is a fabulous source of information for researchers which will only increase in value as more of us add our own information.

Spend an afternoon browsing the portals at WeRelate. You’ll be amazed at the fascinating information you’ll find along with a lot of inspiration you can put to use in your own research. If you have a fact or suggestion to add to a page, please do so. Every little bit helps.

Putting WeRelate to Work

Now that we’ve looked at the major components in WeRelate, it’s time to see how all this can come together for research and collaboration. We each have our own research style, so I’m throwing out a list of ideas that you can choose to incorporate into your style or adjust to fit it.

    • Do you want to get your feet wet, but are afraid of inadvertently deleting something important? No problem, experiment to your heart’s desire in the Sandbox site. This is a duplicate of the main site created just for users who want to practice something before they put it in place on the live site. There’s also a Sandbox page in the Help section used to get you comfortable with the wiki editor.
    • The Surname in Place pages (example: Barker in Chattooga, Georgia, United States) make a great place to not only document useful resources, but also maintain your research log and todo list for the group.
    • Follow the links at the bottom of any page to other pages associated with this one. My Surname in Place page links to the Barker Surname page, the Chattooga County page and the Barker in Georgia page. A little browsing in these related pages might hook you up with others researching your family or places.
    • Your own User page is a great place to bookmark WeRelate pages associated with your research. Not only does it make it easier for you to move within the platform, but it lets other researchers see at a glance which families and places you are researching.

WeRelate Watch

  • Watch pages related to your research. Just click the Watch link in the sidebar (shown as Unwatch here) of any page. In this example, you can see I am watching this page. Click on my username in the sidebar and you will be taken to my User page. This is a great way to find – and be found by – research cousins. Also, when you watch a page, you will be notified when anyone makes a change to that page.
  • Take advantage of the growing number of portals and research guides available within WeRelate. You’ll find research guides covering a broad range of topics – from ethnic groups and historical events to cemeteries and sources. Check both the watchers and contributors (by looking at the page’s History) to find possible collaborators.
  • As you discover research resources online, add them to the appropriate place pages or research guides so others can find them too. Every addition adds value to the entire community.
  • You can use article pages to include additional content related to your people and places. One group has included pages as a notebook for a significant family or to provide analysis of their research.

WeRelate offers a tremendous amount of flexibility, adjusting to your research style rather than forcing you into a style you may find awkward. The toughest adjustment is learning the wiki editor, but even that will quickly become second nature. Few platforms offer the potential to connect and collaborate like those found here. So what’s stopping you?

See you on WeRelate!

WeRelate Naming Conventions

As you wander around in WeRelate, you’ll notice patterns in how things are named. These naming conventions make it easier to design the programming to support the site’s functionality – especially with the all-important search engine. They also let us know at a glance what we are looking at. Here are some page name examples to show you what I mean:

  • Person:John Barker (11)
  • Family:John Barker and Linnie Blake (1)
  • Place:Holland, Chattooga, Georgia, United States
  • Source:Chattooga, Georgia, United States. 1920 Census Population Schedule
  • User:moultriecreek
  • Image:ChattoogaBarkers0001.png
  • Portal:Cemetery
  • Repository:Family History Center

Are you beginning to see the pattern here? Every name begins with a namespace. A namespace is a programming term defining a category of information. By looking at the first example, we know right off that it’s referring to a specific person while the second refers to a family.

What comes after the namespace (besides the colon) depends on the type of namespace. For each person in WeRelate, their page name displays only their first given name and their surname. The number in parentheses in my case shows that my John Barker was the 11th John Barker added to WeRelate. When you visit his page, you will find that his full name is John Thomas Barker. This may take a bit of time and effort for us humans to get used to, but the machines managing all this information understand it just fine.

You usually don’t have to worry about creating a page name. When you create a new person or family page, you enter the given names and surnames into the page’s data entry form and the system will generate the page name for you. Places are quite simple too. Start with the smallest entity and move out from there. In my example above, I’m referring to the community of Holland in Chattooga County, in the state of Georgia which is in the United States. With “Holland” and “Georgia” also being the names of countries, this system helps keep everything in perspective.

Naming conventions are important to limit duplications. Most of the steps to creating a new page in WeRelate involve a search to see if the page already exists. That’s a whole lot easier to do when there is a standard format for naming things.

Which leads me to sources. Yes, we all cringe at that word. Because there are so many variables, sources are the most difficult to name. As a result, there’s an on-going effort at WeRelate to consolidate duplicate source records. There is a section within the WeRelate Help files dedicated to naming source pages. Read it. Bookmark it so you can get to it easily for a quick reference. This is probably one of the most important pages in WeRelate’s help system.

Standardized page titles also make it easy to get to that page within WeRelate. For example, the actual URL to the Help:Source page titles page is http://www.werelate.org/wiki/Help:Source_page_titles. Not bad, huh? It makes it easier to search for things when you know how they are named. And, it helps prevent duplication of people, places and things within the platform. Since there are more than 2 million people pages residing here, all these things are important. Spend some time getting familiar with WeRelate’s naming conventions and you’ll soon discover how useful they are.

What’s up next? Sources! We’ll look at how to craft a source page and why that time and effort is so worthwhile. See you next week!

The Information Desk

The Personal ArchiveAs you build your online personal archive, you’ll have elements located all over the ‘net – documents at Scribd, photos at Flickr, reading list at WorldCat and so on. How do you pull it all together? Why, with your own information desk, of course. Every archive has one and it’s usually where you’ll find the most activity.

But, where are you going to set up an information desk for your personal archive?

Where else but your profile page at WeRelate!

WeRelate Profile

WeRelate profile page showing links to personal archives.

As my profile page continues to develop into the hub for all my research efforts, it only makes sense that it should include my archives too. The WeRelate platform automatically provides links to the family trees, people, family and place pages I’m researching and I have already added links to articles and research guides within WeRelate that support my research so adding my content from other sources only makes sense.

Where is your information desk?


I recently picked up a copy of Judy Jacobson’s History for Genealogists: Using Chronological Time Lines to Find and Understand Your Ancestors. The first chapters discuss the relationship between genealogy and history, then describes how historical knowledge supports genealogical research. She goes on to describe how a timeline of historical events can help in your research effort. Most of the book is a presentation of an amazing number of timelines. She has timelines of military actions, migrations to and across America, disasters and epidemics, and social history topics like the Industrial Revolution. Each state has a timeline as do major regions of the world. The effort put into this book is awe-inspiring.

I am a firm believer that timelines are an important research tool which provide a quick view of history to put your ancestor’s life into perspective. And, while big events – wars, politics, disasters, epidemics and such – did have an impact on their lives, it’s the events closer to home that affected them most.

Where do you find those timelines?

Like most genea-research, the best solutions are collaborative ones. And, what platform provides a better place for collaborators to hang out than WeRelate? You will find that many of the Place pages for states and counties already have basic timelines included. Most are very simple and were generated by pulling Red Book information into a simple table format: date, event and source. It’s easy to add events to these existing timelines and you can use them as templates to create additional timelines on pages where they don’t already exist – like research guides or family pages. One great advantage over a printed timeline is the inclusion of hyperlinks. In this case, because the Red Book was used so frequently as a source, the WeRelate folks created a source page for it and linked to that. You may already have source pages for events related to your research that can be used in your timelines. You can also link to WorldCat pages for a book or other publication, online books in Google Books, Project Gutenberg or other online libraries, original documents, Wikipedia articles and any number of other online sources.

The wiki code used to build tables is much easier to manage than HTML table tags. Here’s an example:

== Timeline ==
{| border="1" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="0"
! Date || Event || Source
| 1824 || County formed || [[Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources]]
| 1826 || Land records recorded || [[Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources]]
| 1830 || First census || [[Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990]]
| 1837 || Marriage records recorded || [[Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources]]
| 1840 || Probate records recorded || [[Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources]]
| 1850 || Court records recorded || [[Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources]]
| 1930 || No significant boundary changes after this year || [[Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990]]

The {| characters identify the beginning of a table and |} ends it. The exclamation mark (!) says this is a row of column headings. Double vertical lines (||) separate columns within a row and a vertical followed by a dash (|-) identifies a new row. Notice the first column of a row only has one vertical (|) to start it. That’s the basics, but of course you can further customize your table in any number of ways. Wikipedia has a complete discussion on all aspects of table formatting on their Help:Table page.

So, using a county place page with its initial Red Book timeline as a starting point, can you add an historical event? If you’re contributing to a research guide, would a timeline add value to your page? Timelines aren’t just for places! They can support research guides for ethnic or religious groups, wars or battles and any number of other topics. Oh, and let’s not forget family pages either.

If you find timelines useful in your research, take a few minutes now and again to add an event or two on a WeRelate timeline. Each item, no matter how small, adds to the knowledge base for all of us.

Research Guides at WeRelate

The research guides section of WeRelate continues to grow. It includes general information like how to get started in genealogy research and useful research sources. There’s a huge selection of location pages and outside sources such as the USGenWeb and the FamilySearch Wiki. And there are a growing list of topical guides ranging from the Cemetery Research Guide (one of my favorites) to DNA Research and Genealogy. Continue reading