Recently, most of us were remembering our war dead, those who fought in various conflicts and notably the Great War, on its ending, centennial anniversary. Some would have taken the opportunity to remember family who died in various conflicts too. But what of their surviving families, their ancestors, their rich histories, and a memorial which goes beyond a mere place in a graveyard.
Recently I stumbled upon a digital platform that shows potential to service a growing interest in remembrance, not just our war dead, but other family members who have passed too. It doubles as an ancestry/family history site, making it perfect to link up living family and their ancestors to those who have died. It is called WikiTree
, and its free.
What makes this site different to your standard internet ancestry site is the ability store antecedents, write biographies of any reasonable length and load photographs of the dearly departed. The site comes in the form of a Wiki, which is a collaborative, semi structured database with linear capacity. It is not a research site, although in time it will develop that capacity. You are all well familiar with Wikipedia. The concept is the same.
Until now, the British South Africa Police Roll of Honour has been a simple listing on a web site. It is a concise listing with no frills. The website also has an in memoriam listing of those who have died in our recent past. For family, this is fine, they all have their personal concepts of remembrance, but for the broader community, and future descendants the memories are susceptible to erasure for good.
In a purely experimental process, the BSA Police Roll of Honour was loaded onto the WikiTree platform and it is presently being categorised and expanded with information. The Rhodesian Light Infantry is in process too, as will other units in due course. To my surprise, family of the dead are beginning to take an interest in the concept. People are making contact and offering information.
Commissioners of Police have been loaded (although some of these profiles are incomplete). You could help expand them. I shall soon be loading all former members of rank Assistant Commissioner and above. One would hope that I am not the sole contributor in this process.
This message is to encourage the process of collaboration. Everybody can contribute to this project, and they should. All it takes is to register your details and maintain your profile, then start working on any of the profiles which interest you, add your recently departed family members (and living ones too, if you want somewhere to build your family history).
Please note, the very strictest privacy regulations apply to the profiles of all living persons, so there is absolute non-disclosure, unless the subject of any profile chooses to open it up. Thus, in reality your profiles on WikiTree are less transparent than the limited data you may supply to a social media account.
Therefore, I appeal to you all to consider joining the WikiTree Project. Everybody who has an interest in their family tree would find this site very useful. For those who have departed members listed on Rolls of Honour or In Memoriam listings, the WikiTree Project provides a wonderful platform to expand upon the information and connect them to the rest of the family.
The scope is endless… medals recipient biographies are another area of interest to many medal collectors. Some of you may well enjoy collecting biographies of former members. Outpost is a brilliant source for this information, being collected in obituaries and retirement notices. The reach of Outpost to researchers, of course, is very limited. WikiTree provides a meaningful place to lodge such information on our notable former members for a global audience.