Family Group Record Format

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Members of the Whitney Research Group are compiling Family Group Record pages for each Whitney head of household who has ever lived. We know that this is an ambitious goal, but we feel that it is important to document each family to better understand all of the families that have existed. For consistency, these pages should follow the format guidelines outlined below.


General Formats

Page Names

  • Pages should typically be named after the Whitney descendant in the relationship, whether husband or wife. If both are Whitney descendants, name it after the husband.
  • Pages should be named in the form "Family:Surname, Given Middle (birth_year-death_year)". If either year is not known exactly, use one of the following:
    • c1701 (circa or about)
    • a1701 (after)
    • b1701 (before)
    • s1701 (say, for educated guesses)
    •  ? (no idea)
    • If the date is a double date, such as 1700/1, use 1701.
    • In the rare case where two individuals share the same name, birth year, and death year, it may be necessary to use the full dates.
  • In general, do not create pages for individuals who did not marry or have children. Instead, include their information with their entry on their parents' page. An exception is when a large amount of information exists for the individual, and including that information on the parents' page would make that page difficult to read.


  • Dates should be in the format 12 Jan 1852.


  • Names should be in the form "Firstname Middlename Lastname" or "Firstname Lastname".
  • Names should not include nicknames unless that is currently the only name known for the individual.
  • Names should have their first letter capitalized, but should not be in all capitals.
  • The first mention of the names of primary individuals (the subject, wives, and children) should be bolded to allow for easy location by readers.
  • If a child's name is unknown, use either "(son) Surname", "(daughter) Surname", or "(child) Surname".


  • Refrain from using "at" or "in" unless absolutely necessary. Say, for example, "died 12 Jan 1892, Johnstown, PA," not "in Johnstown" or "at Johnstown."
  • Locations should generally be listed with "County" abbreviated as "Co." and states listed under their two letter state abbreviation.


  • Links should always be added for every individual listed on a page if they have a page of their own.
  • Links should be made in this format: [[Family:Whitney, John (c1800-1900)|John Whitney]]
  • If the person's name should be bolder, the format should be: [[Family:Whitney, John (c1800-1900)|'''John Whitney''']], not '''[[Family:Whitney, John (c1800-1900)|John Whitney]]'''
  • Links should always be made to source material if it exists on the WRG website.
  • Links to sources on the Internet should take this format: [http://Address_of_source Title]

Specific Parts of the Family Group Record

Subject Name

  • The subject name should follow the standard name format.
  • The subject name should not include nicknames unless that is currently the only name known for the individual.
  • The name should be bolded, by adding three tick marks before and after the name, like this: '''Judah Whitney'''
  • If a connection to an immigrant ancestor is known, the name should be superscripted with the generation number, but only for those of the surname Whitney. For example, children of a woman named Whitney would not be superscripted. Do it like this: James<sup>5</sup> Whitney

Lineage List

  • If the subject's Whitney lineage is known, it should be listed following the subject's name, with each male ancestor's first and middle name, but not surname, listed, but each female ancestor's full name listed.
  • Each person in the lineage list should be linked, if the pages exist.
  • Each person in the lineage list should have a superscript, if appropriate.
  • If a generation is tentative, it should be preceded with "[perhaps]" or "[probably]".
  • The lineage list should be surrounded by parentheses.


  • Use this format: "son/daughter of Father and Mother (Maiden_name) Surname".
  • If the parents are unknown, use "parentage unknown".

Birth info

  • Birth format: "was born Date, Place".
  • Baptism format is similar.
  • If both are known, include the birth first, then the baptism.

Death info

  • Death format: "and died Date, Place, Age_information, of Cause".
  • Burial format: "He/She was buried Date, Place".


  • Marriage format: "He/She married, Date, Place, Name (in bold), Additional_information"

Additional Information

  • Include here any biographical information known, including residences, occupations, military service, land records, probate records, church membership, civil or church offices held, obituary, gravestone inscription, and so on.


  • Start the list with this format: "Children of Husband and Wife (Maiden_name) Surname:"
  • Use the full name of the child, in bold.
  • For children with their own page, link to that page, and give the birth and/or baptism information, and name(s) of spouse(s).
  • For children without their own page, give all known information.
  • Use lower-case roman numerals to indicate the order if known.
  • If order is uncertain or unknown, or if the list is or may be incomplete, say that at the beginning of the list.
  • The labels for vital information for children should be abbreviated, for example, use "b.", "d.", "m.", "aft.", etc.

Census Data

  • For each year the family might appear in the census include a line.
  • Census data format: * Year, Town_name, County_name Co., State_abbreviation: Name, Data.
  • Record the name exactly as it appears in the census record.
  • Data for censuses 1850 and later should be exactly as it appears on the record, surrounded by <p class="Plaintext"></p>
  • Data for censuses before 1850 should indicate the number of males and females in each age range.
  • Link to appropriate census extract on this website.
  • In general, do not link to the census index pages, unless the extracts do not yet exist on this website.


  • Give bibliographic information for the sources used to compile the information on the page.
  • Where possible, link to sources on the WRG website, or to other sources on the Internet.


  • Copyright format: "Copyright © This_year, [[User:Your_username|Your_name]] and the [[Whitney Research Group]]"


  • The category "Parentage Unknown" or "Parentage Conjectured" should be included if appropriate
  • The category "African American" should be included if appropriate.
  • All locations mentioned on the page should be included in the category list.
  • Location categories should be added for the "location, county, state", "county, state" as well as "state".
  • Locations outside of the United States should also include the country level.
  • If names or spelling have changed, the location categories should be for the current location.
  • If county boundaries or state boundaries have changed for a location, the location categories should be for the current location.

Using a Form

There is a form you can fill out, which uses a template to create a new family group record. In the "navigation" box on the upper left of each page, click on "Add a new page". Then click on the link "Create a Family Group Page". Just enter the information into the form which appears for names, dates, places, other information, and references. Carefully review all information you have entered. Then click on the "Save Family" button at the bottom.

Alternative Method Using a Template

There is a Family Group Record template available, which you can use instead of the form above, if you prefer. Again, in the "navigation" box on the upper left of each page, click on "Add a new page". Then use the upper box to give the name of the Family: page you wish to create, and click on the button "Add new Family Group". An edit window will appear with a template for the page already inserted in the edit box. If not modified, the template will create a page which looks like this:

Enter your information by replacing the items given there with your names, dates, places, other informaton, and references. Carefully review all information you have entered. Then click on the "Show preview" button below the window to see the effect of your efforts. If you aren't satisfied, make further changes, and preview the page again. When you are satisfied, click on the "Save page" button below the window.

Alternative Method Using a Simplified Template

If you prefer, you can use a simplified Family Group Record template. This is what it will produce if not modified:

Edit this template here. Copy the contents of the edit window to your clipboard, and close the template page. Then in the "navigation" box on the upper left of each page, click on "Add a new page". In the box under "Add New Information to the Archive", delete what is there and type the name of the Family: page you have chosen. Click on the button "Add new Archive page". Paste the contents of your clipboard into that edit window. Modify as desired, replacing the underscores with your data. Preview the results. Repeat until satisfied, then save the page. Others will convert your data from this format into the preferred format as described above.

Copyright © 2006, 2007 Tim Doyle, Robert L. Ward and the Whitney Research Group