Help talk:Family pages

I wasn't real sure where to discuss this, so move this to a more appropriate area if need be.

I have a question regarding a somewhat hypothetical situation. Let's say that I have merged my tree with another user's tree on a particular branch. Things are good for several generations with each of us agreeing or providing proof and documentation as to the family names, dates, places, etc. Finally we come to a family where we disagree completely on the spouse. I believe the family is John DOE and Mary SMITH while my cousin believes the line should be John DOE and Mary BROWN. I have expanded my line in the SMITH direction while she has gone the BROWN direction. The way the tree stands on WeRelate is John DOE and Mary BROWN as the family. Let's say I disagree with that. How do I expand my line out further in the SMITH direction while my cousin goes the BROWN direction? If I add another family to John DOE's person page, i.e., spouse of John DOE and Mary SMITH, won't it look like he's been married twice? Merging trees is easy. Pulling out and branching off in a different direction once a merge has taken place is a little confusing to me. --Ronni 08:00, 12 June 2007 (MDT)

Don't take this as an authoritative answer, but my first thought was to try to "pipe" the name of the family pages on John Doe's page, so that the edit box would look something like "John Doe and Mary Brown (1) | poss. John Doe and Mary Brown". Then you could link to both families and have it display "possibly" in front of each as a signal. However, this doesn't seem to work (Dallan?), as it causes a crash of some type. So instead of that, I'd probably just link to both families, and make sure that the controversy is documented in big bold print at the top of each page (both individual pages and both family pages). --Joeljkp 11:33, 12 June 2007 (MDT)
I would just create two family pages, one for John Doe and Mary Brown and another for John Doe and Mary Smith. Then put a note on each page citing the references for each theory. There is no problem with making a person the child of two different couples. It would be quite obvious from the children's person pages that there is a difference of opinion as to the mother's name. It seems the easiest solution. --sq 13:21, 12 June 2007 (MDT)
Or you could create one family page, e.g. "John Doe and Mary Brown or Mary Smith", and put in both spouses. If you both agree on the marriage date and the children, it might make sense to create one family page with the two spouses. But if you disagreed on the marriage date or children, then two separate family pages probably makes more sense. I think the main thing is regardless of how you represent it, to leave a textual note on the page(s) involved explaining that there is a difference of opinion, with citations to justify each opinion as others have said. When multiple parent families or spouses are present, I could add the word "Alternate" to the second one when displaying the page if people think that would be useful.
(We use the pipe character internally in various places to separate things, so that's probably why it caused a crash. But in order to get links to two separate family pages you'd need to add each of them as a separate parent family anyway.)--Dallan 16:07, 12 June 2007 (MDT)

Thanks guys! I can see several avenues to go with this now. Personally, I would like to have the "Alternate" choice for the spouse that you mentioned Dallan. I have used the alternate field several times on varying pages more so to open up discussion or to show and document errors. I find it quite handy. :) An "alternate" field for spouse would show that there is a difference of opinion and then one could easily branch off from either family, whereas listing two families on the same page isn't as clear to me. My first impression would be that there were two different marriages, not a disagreement to the one marriage. --Ronni 07:30, 13 June 2007 (MDT)

Ok, I'll put adding "Alternate" to the second spouse in a marriage (as well as the second parent family) on the todo list, probably for tomorrow or early next week.--Dallan 10:11, 14 June 2007 (MDT)
You've got one heck of a to-do list, so I thank you again. :) --Ronni 12:37, 14 June 2007 (MDT)


Multiple marriages - can they be put in order? [7 July 2008]

Can an individual's marriages be listed in order on his/her person page? Gerard Alexander was married three times and each marriage is sourced and dated but on his page the third marriage is listed first, then the first, then the second. I can't find a way to fix this. Mary--Mstewart 10:32, 4 July 2008 (EDT)


   This is a known problem, and it is on Dallan's to-do list. There is no easy way to fix this other than deleting the marriages and putting them back in the right order.

--Taylor 09:43, 7 July 2008 (EDT)

New Template for Family Pages? [8 April 2009]

Is it just me?

I really dislike the current template for family pages. For the most part (point me to some good examples where this is not the case, please), all the data is over in a narrow left-hand column, leaving a huge empty space in the main body of the page.

While I like this format for person pages, which then provides the narrative in the main body, my sense is that most family pages don't have the equivalent narrative-- that the bulk of the information is that which is found in the narrow left-hand column.

It would be much more attractive and readable if it were in the body of the page instead. It would also be great if it were more like a family group sheet or family registry.


Jillaine 14:16, 2 November 2008 (EST)

I think the concept of creating "biographies" or histories for persons also was intended for family units as well. It's not done as much, but there are some good examples:

--Ronni 16:56, 2 November 2008 (EST)

Thanks, Ronni. Those are wonderful examples. Okay, I have several from my tree that I could do something like that with. Cool. Okay, now I'm inspired. Jillaine 17:25, 2 November 2008 (EST)
I've been puzzling over the purpose of the Family Page myself. I guess I don't understand why you wouldn't just link the husband's Person page to the wife's Person page via a marriage "event," and be done with it. The children could be set to appear on both parents' pages, too. (With children from multiple wives, for instance, being assigned to the father and the appropriate mother.) I don't like not seeing the children listed when I'm looking at the Person page of one of the parents. Anyway, we think of lineage in terms of descent from this person and descent from another person -- not as descent from a family. Regarding that big empty space, I frankly can't think what I would put in the text box that I wouldn't already have put in the text box on one or both Person pages for the couple. (Census listings are commonly put with the Head of the Household.) In TMG, you can simply "witness" anyone you like to an event on anyone else's page -- censuses, witnesses to a deed, people mentioned in an obit, whatever. It works really well. --mksmith 17:27, 7 April 2009 (EDT)
Michael, be careful about "we think of lineage in terms of descent from this person and descent from another person -- not as descent from a family." Not everyone here is focused on lineage. Some of us are more focused on family history and therefore DO think of the family as the unit of focus. That said, I would love to see a variation of the family page that displays it more like a traditional family registry. -- jillaine 09:07, 8 April 2009 (EDT)

Other people have said they really like the family pages. Later this Spring I plan to display information for spouses, children, and parents on Person pages. (And the template will get a makeover as well.)--Dallan 09:01, 8 April 2009 (EDT)

Multiple Spouses vs Alternate spouse [23 December 2008]

I'd like to see a way (and maybe there is) of clearly identifying spouse 1 and spouse 2. It seems that right now they are shown as alternate spouse. Alternate spouse to me should be when there are two possible spouses and people are unsure.--Sheri 19:48, 5 December 2008 (EST)

I concur with this. I also see "Alternate" and think that it's an alternative theory, not a subsequent (or earlier) spouse. I'd like to distinguish them. To make the argument stronger, we use "Alternate" for alternative spellings or theories of names. jillaine 20:06, 7 December 2008 (EST)

I also wonder if somehow it should have shown up as two families. That makes sense to me but the gedcom seems to have not up loaded that way and I don't want to recreate second family pages if I should not plus who knows what that would do to the kids. Also at present with alternate spouse I think it is not showing who the real set of parents is.--Sheri 17:12, 8 December 2008 (EST)

Sorry for not responding earlier. It should have shown up as two families. Alternate spouses in the same family should be used when you're not sure which person the spouse is, not when a person remarries. Do you have an example family page that uploaded this way? I'd like to take a look at it.--Dallan 18:23, 19 December 2008 (EST)

ugh. Not paying enough attention; sorry Dallan. It's not that it says "Alternate Spouse" but it just lists multiple Spouse/Families without distinction.
Spouse of Family...
Spouse of Family...
Perhaps if the marriage date were included, it would be clearer. But you probably are hesitant to put more data into that left nav bar.

jillaine 12:12, 21 December 2008 (EST)

The family in question is Family:John Emery and Mary Shatswell (1). From looking at the page history, it looks like the problem happened when Family:John Emery and Alice Grantham (1) was merged into this family by mistake. These are two separate families: the husband is the same person but the wife and children are different. They should not have been merged. You can see the result of the merge here, where a new wife and six children were added to the family.

Jillaine, you did this merge; you might want to make sure that you don't merge families with different spouses - two Family pages where one spouse is the same and the other is different should remain separate pages.

I edited the pages in question, removed the information that was incorrectly added to John and Mary's page during the merge, and edited and saved the pre-merge version of John and Alice's page, so it now looks just like it did before the merge. This unmerges the two families.

I believe part of the confusion stemmed from Person:Jonathan Emery (2) being incorrectly listed as a child of John and Alice. It looks like Jonathan was born in 1652, two years after John and Mary were married. So I put Jonathan as a child of John and Mary, not John and Alice. --Dallan 19:58, 22 December 2008 (EST)

Thanks Dallan, and apologies for mucking up the waters. There's still another child linked to both marriages-- and it's where I messed things up-- or why I did. Eleanor Emery is in my line; she's still connected to both families; I'll remove her from the later one as she was born 25 years before the second marriage occurred! Not sure how that happened. I know that I've had a couple of challenging merges lately. This was probably one of them that I didn't figure out right. Sorry. jillaine 22:53, 22 December 2008 (EST)

It's not a problem. I bet most people have done a 'bad' merge at one point. Any merge can be unmerged (although I need to make unmerging easier).--Dallan 21:23, 23 December 2008 (EST)

Yes, making un-merges easier would help me. I have been unable (unwilling?) to figure out how to "go back" in time/history. jillaine 23:36, 23 December 2008 (EST)

Adoptive parents (a question...) [19 June 2009]

Is there a way to indicate adoptive parents and/or adopted children? I obviously can explain in the text what happened, but in the case I am thinking of, a person was raised by her aunt and uncle. She is noted in my tree as the child of her birth parents, and records indicate she retained a close connection to her birth family. During different census years she is shown with both her birth surname and her adoptive surname. At the time of her marriage she uses the surname of her adoptive family, although the marriage records indicate the names of her birth parents as her parents. I suspect that the adoption was probably not done through the legal system, though I haven't yet verified this.

I know I can add a second set of parents to a person page. Should I just indicate in the text that set number 2 is the adoptive parents?

In another case, a family in one of my trees has two sons, separated by less than 9 months, because one of the two was adopted. This adoption probably was done through the legal system, and I don't know who the natural parents are. Is there some way I should be indicating this?

Thanks, Brenda --Kennebec1 13:21, 19 June 2009 (EDT)

We don't have a special way of handling adoptions. I think you have the best solution. List both sets of parents and explain in the notes.  :) --sq 21:29, 20 June 2009 (EDT)

Parents [1 May 2011]

How do I get the Parents to appear above the individuals name on the Family pages? Sometimes they appear automatically when the parents are linked to the individual in the family and sometimes not.

Specifically "Family:Aaron Holsapple and Ida Nicholas (4)". Aaron has his parents listed but Ida does not. I can't spot the difference between the links their person pages. Both their person pages display their parents.

Rick--Rick 17:07, 1 May 2011 (EDT)

There is a known bug in the system. You will need to remove the parents from Ida's page, save the page, add the parents back to Ida'a page (by clicking on Add Child from her parent's page), and save again. --Jennifer (JBS66) 17:16, 1 May 2011 (EDT)

Stepfamilies [2 June 2017]

Eugene and Lulu have a child, Paul. A few days after giving birth, Lulu dies. Shortly after, Eugene marries Susan. How should Paul's relationship to Susan be recorded?

One option would be to include Paul as part of Eugene and Lulu's family, but not Eugene and Susan's family. But that seems like a major omission. If Paul spends his entire life being raised by Susan, and he thinks of Susan as his mother, then shouldn't this relationship be documented?

The other option would be to include Paul as a member of both families. But I couldn't find any way to indicate that one of the relationships wasn't biological, and the page now has an ugly "Duplicate parents" warning (, which makes me think that this isn't the recommended approach either.--schala 23:01, 2 June 2017 (UTC)

The best approach is to have Paul linked in just his biological family, and indicate on the text of the family page for his step-mother (and likely on his page as well) what the dynamics were and that he was effectively a child of this household.--Amelia 23:35, 2 June 2017 (UTC)