Terry Mason's quotation

Click on any of the following:
Principles of Documenting | Principles of Family History Research
        Documenting Styles | How to Do Family History Research
Return to Terry's Family History main page

Documenting Source Citations & and Notes:

A Research Paper "bibliography" contains references to the sources that were used to prove the claims made within the body of the paper. Good family history software should provide an easy method for documenting the events in a person's life, that is, it creates the "bibliography" documenting your research efforts. Sources can be used an unlimited number of times within a database. Therefore, when you find a book containing hundreds of names of family members, rather than recording the source citation repeatedly with each person, it is much more efficient to enter the description once. Then, point to the source in a master list and record only the unique information for each person in the citation detail of the source.

Notes can be used to record biographical information, such as where a person lived during their lifetime, and can include interesting or special circumstances of an individual's life, stories, journal entries, research notes and "to do" lists.

In printouts from computer software programs, notes are usually printed right after the individual's data while the source information usually is printed at the end of a chapter, or for example when creating a family registry report the sources would print at the end of the document.
The Source Screen:
A Source Citation should be recorded in detail sufficient enough that another person can locate the same record containing that information.
Great care should be used in designing the source title. The source title is a key field which will determine how the source is listed in the alphabetized source list and how the sources are grouped together. If it is well designed, it will allow for repeated use.

Source Title (required field).

Published Book examples:
    Massachusetts, Freetown Vital Records of
    Massengill, Henry - History of
    Mexican War Soldiers
    Nall Families of America (1978)
Unpublished record examples:
    Michigan Certificate
    Nevada Certificate
    Utah Certificate
Name of Periodical or Newspaper examples (with Publication Information):
    California, Pasadena "Henry Jones, Settler" (Pasadena Star News)
    California, Upland County "History of Upland County" (The Daily Report)
    California, Santa Rosa "Early Immigrants to the Community" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat Newspaper)
    Utah, Salt Lake City Obituaries "John Doe" (Salt Lake Tribune)
Rule 1: Source titles of a geographic area such as the name of a county or state should be written so that the source can be used for every person in your databank to whom it applies.
Examples:
Kentucky Certificates
Kentucky Death Index (1911-1996)
Kentucky, Hardin County 1850 U.S. Census
Kentucky, Hardin County 1900 U.S. Census
Kentucky, Daviess County 1900 U.S. Census
Rule 2: Start source titles with the surname to which it applies to allow grouping all sources with that surname.
Examples:
Holland Family Record compiled by James Holland (1997)
Holland Family Records compiled by Shirley Dodson (1999)
Jones, Mary (1920) Interview
Jones, Dianne Holland (1999) e-mail correspondence
Black, Samuel Edward - Journal
Author.
Type the name of the author, editor, compiler or institution that created the source. Publication Information. Source/Call Number. Source/Actual Text. Source/Comments. Repository. Hint: You can have repeated use of the Repository Information.
Citation Detail (separate detail for this one individual only):

Film/Volume/Page Number.

Date of Entry. Actual Text. Comments. Go to Top of Page

Entering Notes:

Personal Ancestral File has a separate place to store source information. However, when creating web pages with PAF, information placed in the Source Citation Detail "Actual Text" field is run together. Therefore, I tend to use the "Notes" field that allows me to have more control over the output and printouts. If you want to use the notes method to enter data for an individual, consider the following format suggested by the Silicon Valley Computer Genealogy Group:
!TAG: Author,TITLE; Year; Source origin; References in source; Location of source; NOTES:
A. !
It is possible to separate the notes you want to share with others from those notes you want to keep private. The method for doing this is to place an exclamation mark (!) as the first character of a paragraph. This method of marking a note makes it appear on printed reports, in GEDCOM files (files you create and use to share genealogy information with others), TempleReady submissions and Ancestral File contributions. You may also use a tilde "~" preceding a sentence or paragraph mark that information as confidential.

B. TAG:
TAGS are key words that identify the type of information contained in a note. To make tags easy to identify, type them in uppercase letters at the beginning of the paragraph followed by a colon(:). Use the Event, Linkage, Subject or Research tags to label an entry for future computer searches. Place a tag at the beginning of a line and use all capital letters followed by a colon. When using more than one tag, separate each with a hyphen. Leave a blank line between each source entry. Following are the most often used TAGS:

Event Linkage Subject Research Optional LDS Events
ADOPTION CHILD BIOGRAPHY ACTION BAPTISM
CREMATION CHILDREN CEMETERY AKA BLESSING
EMIGRATION FATHER CENSUS COMMENT CONFIRMATION
IMMIGRATION HALF- CITIZENSHIP CONFLICT DEACON
NATURALIZATION MOTHER COURT DEAD_END ELDER
PROBATE PARENTS EDUCATION ERROR ENDOWMENT
SIBLINGS HONORS FILE HIGH_PRIEST
BIRTH SPOUSE HOSPITAL NAME MISSION
BURIAL STEP- LAND NOTE PATRIARCHAL_BLESSING
CHRISTENING   MILITARY NIL PRIEST
DEATH   OBITUARY PLACE SEALING_PARENTS
DIVORCE   OCCUPATION QUESTION SEALING_SPOUSE
MARRIAGE   ORGANIZATIONS RESEARCHER SEVENTY
    RELATIONSHIP UPDATE TEACHER
    RESIDENCES    

C. Author, TITLE;
Name or description of source. For a book, state author's full name followed by a comma, then the title IN CAPITAL LETTERS. For a periodical place "quotes around title" of an article.

D. Years;
Show entire span of years covered by source. If only one event occurs, use only specific year. Allows others to see what time period this source covers.

E. Source origin;
Include Series, Volume, Part, Publisher info (Publication Date & City), Item number (if microfilm or microfiche).

F. References within source;
Page or line number within source. Unique to each field of information.

G. Location of source;
Actual physical location or repository of source. If in a library, enter call number (book, fiche, or film). Describe where a researcher could see the source or obtain a copy of it. (Do not list specific addresses unless granted permission.)

H. Notes.
Extraction of essential details. You may use TAGS such as COMMENT, QUESTION, ACTION, CONFLICT with explanation.

Examples:

A   B                          C                                    D
!BIOGRAPHY: Mary Coffin Johnson, THE HIGLEYS AND THEIR ANCESTRY; 1630-1892;
    E                                F        G
New York, The Grafton Pres, 1892; pp 9-15; Sutro Library, San Francisco, CA.

A      B                                             C
!DEATH-PARENTS-SPOUSE-CHILDREN: Obituary of Hans Bosen, OGDEN STANDARD EXAMINER;
  D            E                             F               G
1948; microfilm dtd Sep-Nov, 1943; October, p 108, Col 1; City Library, Ogden, UT;
        H
ACTION: Get a photocopy of this document.

A     B                       C                          D
!MILITARY-SPOUSE: Pension application of Glen Jones; 1863-1901; Civil War,
            E                                                     F
IL 5th Regiment, filed by widow, Amanda Jones, 10 Sep 1901, Doc #1198762-2A; ;
   G
Original in poss of Aaron Jones, Santa Clara, CA.

Go to Top of Page

Valid HTML 4.0!