How to Cite Genealogy Sources

You have been researching your loved ones for some time and also have were able to properly assemble many bits of the puzzle. You’ve joined what they are called and dates present in census records, land records, military records, etc. But do you know me wherever you found great, great-grandma’s date of birth? Could it have been on her behalf tombstone? Inside a book in the library? Within the 1860 census on

When searching for your loved ones it is crucial that you simply keep an eye on each piece of knowledge. This will be significant both as a way of verifying or “showing” your computer data as well as for you or any other researchers to return to that source when future research results in information which conflicts together with your original assumption. In genealogy research, any statement of fact, whether it’s a date of birth or perhaps an ancestor’s surname, must carry its very own individual source.

Source citations in genealogy actually…

record the place of every bit of dataDid the date of birth you’ve for the great-grandmother originate from a printed genealogy, a tombstone or perhaps a birth record? Where was that source found?

provide context that may modify the evaluation and employ of every bit of data

Including evaluating both document itself, and also the information and evidence that you simply tap into it, for quality and potential bias. This is actually the next step from the Family history and genealogical Proof Standard.

permit you to easily revisit old evidence

Many reasons exist you might like to backtrack on your research, such as the discovery of recent information, the conclusion you might have overlooked something, or the necessity to resolve conflicting evidence, the 4th step from the Family history and genealogical Proof Standard.

assist others to understand and evaluating your quest

Should you be fortunate enough to look for a complete family tree for the grandfather on the web, wouldn’t you’d like to learn in which the information originated from?

Along with research logs, proper source documentation also causes it to be much simpler to get in which you ended together with your genealogy research after time spent concentrating on other activities. I understand you have been for the reason that wonderful place before!

Kinds of Genealogy Sources

When looking for and documenting the sources accustomed to establish your loved ones tree connections, you should understand the different sorts of sources.

Original versus. Derivative Sources

Talking about the provenance from the record, original sources are records that lead written, dental, or visual information not derived – copied, abstracted, transcribed, or summarized – from another written or dental record. Derivative sources are, by their definition, records that have been derived – copied, abstracted, transcribed, or summarized – from formerly existing sources. Original sources usually, although not always, carry excess fat than derivative sources.

Within each source, whether original or derivative, there’s also two various kinds of information:

Primary versus. Secondary Information

Talking about the caliber of the data contained inside a particular record, primary information originates from records produced at or close to the duration of a celebration with information contributed by an individual who had reasonably close understanding from the event. Secondary information, by comparison, is information present in records produced a lot of time after a celebration happened or contributed by an individual who wasn’t present in the event. Primary information usually, although not always, carries excess fat than secondary information.

Two Rules for excellent Source Citations

Rule One: Stick to the Formula – While there’s no scientific formula for citing all types of source, a great guideline is for you to use general to a particular:

Author – the one that authored it, provided the job interview, or authored the letter

Title – if it’s articles, then your title of this article, adopted through the title from the periodical

Publication Details

host to publication, name of writer and date of publication, designed in parentheses (Place: Writer, Date)

volume, issue and page figures for periodicals

series and roll or item number for microfilm

In Which You Thought It Was – repository name and placement, Site name and URL, graveyard name and placement, etc.

Specific Details – page number, entry number and date, date you viewed an internet site, etc.

Rule Two: Cite A Specific Item – Whenever inside your family history and genealogical research you utilize an offshoot source rather from the original version, you have to be certain to cite the index, database or book that you simply used, and never the particular source that the derivative source was produced. It is because derivative sources are some steps taken off the initial, opening the doorway for errors, including:

handwriting interpretation errors

microfilm viewing errors (out-of-focus, back side bleeding through, etc.)

transcription errors (skipping lines, transposing figures, etc.)

typing errors, etc.

purposeful changes

Even when another investigator informs you they found such and the like to start dating ? inside a marriage record, you need to cite the investigator because the resource (noting too where they found the data). You are able to only precisely cite the wedding record for those who have viewed it on your own.

Next Page > Source Citation Examples A to Z

<< How to Cite & Types of Sources

Article (Journal or Periodical)
Citations for periodicals should include the month/year or season, rather than issue number where possible.

Willis H. White, “Using Uncommon Sources to Illuminate Family History: a Long Island Tuthill Example.” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 91 (March 2003), 15-18.
Bible Record
Citations for information found in a family bible should always include the information on publication and its provenance (names and dates for people who have owned the bible)

1. Family data, Dempsey Owens Family Bible, The Holy Bible (American Bible Society, New York 1853) original owned in 2001 by William L. Owens (put mailing address here). The Dempsey Owens Family Bible passed from Dempsey to his son James Turner Owens, to his son Dempsey Raymond Owens, to his son William L. Owens.
Birth & Death Certificates
When citing a birth or death record, record 1) type of record and name(s) of the individual(s), 2) the file or certificate number (or book and page) and 3) name and location of the office in which it is filed (or the repository in which the copy was found – e.g. archives).

1. Certified transcription of birth certificate for Ernest Rene Ollivon, Act no. 7145 (1989), Maison Maire, Crespières, Yvelines, France.
2. Henrietta Crisp, birth certificate [long form] no. 124-83-001153 (1983), North Carolina Division of Health Services – Vital Records Branch, Raleigh.
3. Elmer Koth entry, Gladwin County Deaths, Liber 2: 312, no 96 County Clerk’s Office, Gladwin, Michigan.
From an online index:
4. Ohio Death Certificate Index 1913-1937, The Ohio Historical Society, online <>, Dying certificate entry for Eveline Powell downloaded 12 March 2001.

From the FHL microfilm:

5. Yvonne Lemarie entry, Crespières naissances, mariages, déecs 1893-1899, microfilm no. 2067622 Item 6, frame 58, Genealogy Library [FHL], Salt Lake City, Utah.


Printed sources, including books, should list author (or compiler or editor) first, adopted through the title, writer, publication place and date, and page figures. List multiple authors within the same order as proven around the title page unless of course there are other than three authors, by which situation, include just the first author adopted by et al. Citations for just one amount of a multivolume work will include the amount of the amount used.

Margaret M. Hoffman, compiler, The Granville District of New York, 1748-1763, 5 volumes (Weldon, New York: Roanoke News Company, 1986), 1:25, no.238.*The amount within this example, signifies a particular numbered entry around the page.

Census Record

Even though it is tempting to abbreviate many products inside a census citation, especially condition name and county designations, it is advisable to show all words within the first citation to particular census. Abbreviations which appear standard for you (e.g. Co. for county), might not be identified by all researchers.

1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Brookline, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, Enumeration District [Erectile dysfunction] 174, sheet 8, dwelling 110, family 172, Ernest A. Kerry household National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 721 digital image,, http://world wide (utilized 28 This summer 2004).

Family Group Sheet

If you use data that has been caused by others, it is best to document the information while you receive it and never make use of the original sources reported through the other investigator. You have not personally checked these sources, therefore they aren’t your source.

1. Jane Doe, “William M. Crisp – Lucy Cherry family group sheet,” provided 2 Feb 2001 by Doe (put mailing address here).


Make sure to document whom you interviewed so when, in addition to who’s owning the job interview records (transcripts, tape tracks, etc.)

1. Interview with Charles Bishop Koth (interviewees address here), by Kimberly Thomas Powell, 7 August 1999. Transcript locked in 2001 by Powell (put mailing address here). [You can an annotation or personal comment here.]


It is a lot more accurate to pages and use a specific letter like a source, as opposed to just citing the person who authored the letter as the source.

1. Letter from Patrick Owens (put mailing address here) to Kimberly Thomas Powell, 9 The month of january 1998 locked in 2001 by Powell (put mailing address here). [You can an annotation or personal comment here.]

Marriage License or Certificate

Marriage record information stick to the same general format as birth and dying records.

1. Marriage license and certificate for Dempsey Owens and Lydia Ann Everett, Edgecombe County Marriage Book 2:36, County Clerk’s Office, Tarboro, New York.2. George Ernest Powell and Rosina Jane Powell, Bristol Marriage Register 1:157, Bristol Register Office, Bristol, Glouchestershire, England.

Newspaper Clipping

Make sure to include the specific newspaper, the area and date of publication, the page and column number.

1. Henry Charles Koth – Mary Elizabeth Ihly marriage announcement, Southern Baptist newspaper, Charleston, Sc, 16 June, 1860, page 8, column 1.


This general citation format pertains to information caused by Internet databases in addition to online transcriptions and indexes (i.e. if you discover a graveyard transcription on the web, you’d come in as an internet site source. You wouldn’t range from the graveyard as the source unless of course you’d visited personally).

1. Wuerttemberg Emigration Index,, online <>, Koth data downloaded 12 The month of january 2000.

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