Help:Family Exchange Pages

2017 Maintenance Note: This page belongs to a project from 2008 that is no longer active, therefore it may contain outdated information. Please see Help:Surname pages for the more recent project.


What is a Family Exchange page?

A "Family Exchange" page is designed to support "One Name Studies" for specific surnames. Such pages are intended help people collect information for concerning people sharing that surname. The information is collected on a state and county level. For example, links to pages containing various types of information (such as birth records, census records, marriage records, etc) for people sharing the Coleman surname are displayed on the Coleman Family Exchange.

This article is intended to help people create a Family Exchange for a surname of interest to them. A list of existing Family Exchanges is available at Category:Family Exchange


The prototype example for a Family Exchange Page is found at Coleman Family Exchange.

How To Create

The prototype Family Exchange Page contains three elements.


To create a Family Exchange follow these steps

1. Create the family exchange page

"XXXXX Exchange Page", where "XXXXX" is the surname you are interested in.

2. Add Prototype Content

Add a welcome message and menu to your new page. The initial content can be copied from this page

Prototype Family Exchange Page

Go to the protoytpe Exchange Page, and copy its contents into your "XXXXX Family Exchange" page

3. Make it Surname Specific

You will now have a page with all of the necessary ingredients in place, but you will need to edit your new family exchange page and make a few additional changes to make it look right.

A. Replace the "Insert surname here" text with your surname in the Family Exchange Page Menu and Family Exchange Page Welcome templates.

B. The Banner requires the most work. The current banner is specific to the Coleman Family Exchange. You will undoubtedly prefer something that fits better with the surname you are interested in. At some point in the future it is hoped someone will develop a generic banner that will work with any page, but at the moment you'll have to do some work to make your own surname specific banner. If you don't want a banner, you can delete everything from <p>''Cranberry Harvest on Nantucket Island to the two <br /> tags and skip this step.

There are three main parts to the process

1. Find an adapt a suitable image to use as the main banner.
2. Develop a caption for the banner to fit above the banner in the "flying left" position.
3. Develop a title caption for the banner to fit below it in the "centered below" position.

Of these three steps the last two are relatively trivial. These captions can say what ever you want them to say, or you can get rid of them altogether.

The current "Flying Left" caption says: Cranberry Harvest on Nantucket Island. by Johnathan Eastman Johnson. 1880
The current "Centered Below" captions says: Thomas Coleman, 1602-1682, was one of the early settlers of Nantucket Island, having immigrated in the Great Migration before 1638
Decide what you want them to say, and change them accordingly.

The only hard part of this process is in creating the actual banner. The Prototype banner was developed for the Coleman Exchange page, and shows a painting of Cranberry harvesting on Nantucket Island. That image was from a painting XXXXX. It had nothing to do with the Coleman family other than the fact that a) it was a depiction of something on Nantucket Island, and one of the very early Coleman families happened to settle on Nantucket Island. The point is to pick something interesting that has some connection with the surname you are interested in. The banner will appear on every page that's created as part of the exchange, and will serve to unify all the pages of the exchange, making them instantly recognizable. In otherwords, its a "branding" that will give your exchange a unique and identifiable appearance.


What should you pick as your banner? Just about anything that you think does the job. If the surname involved is Smith, then an image of a blacksmith or blacksmith shop might be in order. If the surname is associated with a particular place (as is the case in the Coleman Exchange) find an image of that place and use it. If the surname is thought to originate in some particular area, say Poland, or Scotland, perhaps images of the country of origin might do it. The choice is yours. If you're really stuck, ask for help on the watercooler. Some kind person will probably be willing to lend a hand. To get some ideas you might want to check Category:Banners.

Does it really have to fit my particular surname? Not particularly. If you want a landscape type image, for example, it would be nice if it had a connection to the surname at least in some manner (as the Cranberry harvesting image ties in with the Coleman surname), but it's not really necessary. The purpose of the banner is to tie your pages together, branding them as a single unit. Anything that does that will work, even if there's no real connection. If the banner is attractive and visually appealing: it will do the job. It would probably be best to avoid images that clearly don't fit with the surname. Images of the Onion Domes of Moscow, for example, probably won't convey the right impression for a surname with an obvious Mediterranean background. But as long as there is no obvious disconnect, most anything that's visually appealing will do.

Where can you find suitable images? A good place is in the image files of wiki's. The Wikipedia has a nice selection of paintings that can often be adapted to this purpose. Also check the Wiki Commons---or even the images of WeRelate.

How about shape and size?. Usually, most web pages have a banner of some description, and usually they are long and narrow, running across the width of the page. There's a reason for that. You don't want the banner to overwhelm the page, and you don't want it to distract from the contents. So something long and narrow works best.