Genealogy Brainstorming

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Per the microformats process, towards the development of a genealogy microformat, this page documents brainstorms that should be based on modeling the 80/20 of real world examples of genealogy publishing on the web, preferably re-using terminology from existing genealogy formats.



Building blocks

Since genealogy is about people and their relationships, it is likely that any genealogical microformat will be built from hCard and XFN microformats; with hCalendar used for dates such as marriages and divorces. The proposed citation microformat could be incorporated, as many genealogists cite the records they use.

Document types

Genealogy documents on the web tend to fall into one of several types:

  1. A family tree with many members (e.g. [1]).
  2. A page for an individual, listing their ancestors and descendants for one generation in each direction, plus their spouse(s) and, sometimes, their sibling(s) (e.g. [2], [3]).
  3. As above, but for a couple (e.g. [4])
  4. Prose pages which may discuss the families of one or more, sometimes unrelated, individuals (not necessarily in the context of genealogy) (e.g. [5]).

Only the second of these, and some, but by no means all, of the others, are suited to XFN markup.



Update: note that vCard4 has a "gender" property that is likely to be incorporated into the next version of hCard.

To make life easier for publishers, the following values could all equate, without requiring the use of abbr to:





XFN has some family rel values: "parent", "child", "sibling", "spouse".

Although, from existing publishing practices, it seems that the above ("primary") relationships are more commonly expressed than secondary relationships ("aunt", "grand-father") when linking from one page to another, additional values may be required (see above for further examples). These could, of course, be used outside a genealogy microformat, as with other XFN values.

Non-marriage partnerships

... and short-term liaisons should also be catered for (for the parents of illegitimate children).

In addition to the gender-neutral primary relationships already in XFN, gender-specific terms may be required ("father" and "mother" for "parent", for example).

There might also be a need for "step-sibling",

... "step-mother"

... and "half-sibling", etc.

If XFN is used, then it would be prudent to add a couple of rules or guidelines:

See also: xfn-brainstorming#Extending_family_relationships

Date of death

Inevitably, more of our ancestors are dead than alive.

Since non-genealogical web pages also publish death dates, it is proposed that hCard be extended to incorporate them. See hcard-date-of-death

Date of baptism

Older records, from times when registration of births was not carried out, rely on baptism records, A date-of-baptism property is thus required. This could be added to hCard, or be specific to a genealogy microformat, and should be based on hCards "bday".


As interesting and problematic as death, marriage, and baptism dates are, each event also, for genealogical purposes, contains a location which it is important to capture.

In general it is:

These things are very difficult to encode in an hcard. I did it on my genealogy website by coding x-birth-location, x-marriage-date, x-marriage-location, x-death-date, and x-death-location, but this, i am confident is NOT the correct way to do this.

Rob Salzman 10:10, 7 Apr 2008 (PDT) Unless there is only a single person on an html page, I don't see how you can use an hCalendar event for marriage, or XRel's for relationships either.

My Family Sheets are organized like this:

Husband (name, birth date, birth location, marriage date, marriage location, death date, death location) Wife (same, except, usually no marriage information) Child1 (name, birth date, birth location, spouse info, death date/location) Child2 (name, birth date, birth location, spouse info, death date/location) ...

(Here is an example (my grandfather)

See also

Genealogy Brainstorming was last modified: Wednesday, September 28th, 2011